On Tuesday, WikiLeaks released thousands of documents it alleged described the software tools used by the CIA to hack into smartphones, smart TVs and computers.
There's a lot that still needs to be sifted through regarding this release, but there are a few basic things many experts seem to agree on, including that this is beneficial to President Donald Trump.
Many believe this helps Trump in a big way.
Before we get into how this relates to Trump, it's necessary to briefly discuss what's in the WikiLeaks documents released and why so many people are talking about this.
First -- given this is what a lot of people seem to be focusing on -- the CIA has been able to hack into phones, smart TVs and computers for quite some time, and this shouldn't come as a surprise.
Second, while some interpret the WikiLeaks documents as claiming high-level encryption used by messaging services, like WhatsApp and Signal, has been compromised, this is not accurate.
Cyber security experts, including Edward Snowden, pointed this out.
In other words, it seems the CIA has targeted the operating systems that apps run on, iOS and Android, and has not broken through the encryption used by WhatsApp and Signal.
Once the CIA has hacked into the operating system of a phone, however, apps on the phone would no longer be secure.
But, there's no need to panic.
Unless you're involved in something extremely shady, it's highly unlikely you've been hacked by the CIA.
Beyond the implications of the claims within the WikiLeaks documents, many experts note the timing of the release is very curious in regards to Trump, his relationship with the intelligence community and Russia.
Trump needs a distraction, and WikiLeaks may have just given him one.
One of the biggest stories surrounding US politics over the past several months has been Russian interference in the US presidential election.
US intelligence agencies believe the Russian government intervened in order to tip the scales in Trump's favor and gave WikiLeaks hacked emails from the DNC and Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta.
While there is still no direct evidence of collusion between the Russian government and Donald Trump, many are suspicious.
This topic has already caused a number of problems for the Trump administration, such as the resignation of one of his top advisers and the more recent scandal involving Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
In the process, Trump has clashed with US intelligence agencies, angered over the leaks revealing information on the interactions between the Russian government and the people linked to his campaign and administration.
"Instead of talking about... Russia... we will focus on the details of the documents."
Dr. Brandon Valeriano, a cyber security expert, spoke with Elite Daily about how these developments surrounding Trump and Russia pertain to the documents released by WikiLeaks.
Valeriano, Donald Bren Chair of the Marine Corps University and Fellow at Niskanen Center, stated,
The primary reason this helps Trump is it changes the narrative from what Russia has done to the United States towards what the US has been doing to others. It reinforces the narrative that the real bad guy in the world is the US and our hands are dirty. Instead of talking about and investigating Russia's intrusion into the US electoral process, we will focus on the details of the documents. In reality, none of these revelations are surprising, the CIA is excellent at cyber espionage but not invulnerable to attacks on their own systems.
Long story short, if people are too busy talking about how awful the CIA is, then attention is drawn away from Trump and concerns over his presidential campaign's relationship with Russia.
This is not to say Trump played a direct role in the release of these documents, as there's no evidence of this, but it certainly doesn't hurt him.
Many seem to believe WikiLeaks is essentially a Russian prop and find the timing of the documents' release very dubious.
For now, based on the evidence we have, it's fair to say experts find the information WikiLeaks released credible, but there are still many questions to be answered about WikiLeak's relationship with Russia and why it chose this week, in particular, for the release.
Regardless, US government surveillance is a topic we should all be concerned about and continue to discuss.