An audit refers to an official financial examination, to which every person, corporation, and government organization in the United States is subject. To be exempt from an audit or to not be audited on an annual basis is practically unheard of, even if a business makes a small amount of money. So, why doesn’t the Pentagon, the headquarters for the United States Department of Defense — which accounts for 54% of the U.S. government discretionary spending — get audited?
To be clear, this is illegal. Legislation that was passed in the early 90s states that all government agencies must be audited on an annual basis. The Pentagon has not been audited for the past 20 years, yet there have been no legal consequences. Instead, the U.S. government awards the Department of Defense with billions of dollars annually. Why does the Pentagon get special treatment from the U.S. government and what exactly is it hiding?
Why the Pentagon Is Long Overdue for an Audit
If you can believe it, the Pentagon has never been audited, despite the fact that it receives the greatest amount of funding from the U.S. government. As a result, an astounding $10 trillion in tax payer money has gone completely unaccounted for since 1996.
“Over the last 20 years, the Pentagon has broken every promise to Congress about when an audit would be completed,” the director of the Audit the Pentagon coalition, Rafael DeGennaro, explained. “Meanwhile, Congress has more than doubled the Pentagon’s budget.”
Not only has the Pentagon’s budget increased year after year, but it will continue to do so without question, despite the fact that tons of this money is wasted or unaccounted for. In fact, just last week President Donald Trump released the preliminary budget proposal, outlining a $52 billion rise in military spending.
This seems strange, especially after the Washington Post exposed just last year that the Pentagon buried a report that proved they wasted $125 billion. The Pentagon tried to hide this internal study out of fear that the U.S. government would decrease its budget, making it more than a little ironic that the Trump administration chose to increase it instead. You can read about this in our CE article here.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office has published ample evidence proving the Pentagon has poorly managed its finances, such as when it lost $500 million in U.S. military aid to Yemen. The public feared that the military equipment would be found and used by terrorist groups, although this wouldn’t be anything new, since the U.S. government already sells arms to terrorist groups overseas. You can read more about that in our CE article here.
This isn’t the only time the Pentagon lost money, either; the army lost $5.8 billion, which it claimed was the result of moving equipment between reserve and regular units. The Pentagon Inspector General explained in a 2012 report that units “may experience equipment shortages that could hinder their ability to train soldiers and respond to emergencies.”
It seems like the Pentagon is the one government organization that desperately needs to be audited, yet it continuously refuses to be, claiming that collecting and organizing the required data for an audit would be too expensive and time-consuming. Given that the budget has continuously increased, how is this a sound argument?
There has been significant push for the Pentagon to be audited from the public and politicians from both sides of the political spectrum, including Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz. You hear about people and businesses getting haggled and pushed around to provide information to auditors, so why hasn’t the Pentagon received that same treatment?
The Pentagon’s Ties to the Private Sector and the Black Budget
Many people argue that the Pentagon’s lack of accountability goes far beyond the control of the government. Despite the shadow government’s efforts to keep transparency at a minimum, it’s very clear that the elite and corporations strongly influence the government, including the military.
According to William Hartung, the Director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, private contractors significantly benefit from the Pentagon’s confusion regarding its funds. Hartung explains that contractors will “periodically intervene to try to stop practices that would make them more accountable.”
One company that hugely benefits from this is Lockheed Martin, as its F-35 fighter-jet program is seriously flawed, yet the government turns a blind eye to this. Hartung explains, “The concept is: benefit from a dysfunctional system because they can charge however much they want and there’s not a lot of quality control.”
Lockheed Martin also holds strong ties to the black budget program, which refers to government programs that are highly classified and operate in secrecy, otherwise known as Special Access Programs (SAPs). Journalist Bill Sweetman determined that approximately 150 SAPs aren’t acknowledged by the government, and most of the government higher ups and high ranking military personnel aren’t even aware of them. That’s because most of these programs are dominated by private contractors like Lockheed Martin. Read more about this in our CE article here.
Lockheed Martin’s Second Director of Skunk Works, Ben Rich, referred to its involvement in these programs, explaining, “We already have the means to travel among the stars, but these technologies are locked up in black projects. It would take an Act of God to ever get them out to benefit humanity. Anything you can imagine, we already know how to do. We have the technology to take ET home.”
The Washington Post revealed that a staggering $52.6 billion was set aside for black budget operations in fiscal year 2013, all of which are “top secret.” It’s important to note that this is only the known amount of funds allocated to the black budget; many other government officials have suggested that these programs receive a lot more funding.
Paul Hellyer, Canada’s former Minister of National Defence, stated in 2008:
It is ironic that the U.S. would begin a devastating war, allegedly in search of weapons of mass destruction, when the most worrisome developments in this field are occurring in your own backyard. It is ironic that the U.S. should be fighting monstrously expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, allegedly to bring democracy to those countries, when it itself can no longer claim to be called a democracy, when trillions, and I mean thousands of billions of dollars have been spent on projects about which both the Congress and the Commander in Chief have been kept deliberately in the dark. (2)
What he’s referring to are the highly classified SAPs, which tie into the large amount of money that’s unaccounted for at the Pentagon. On July 16, 2001, in front of the house appropriations committee, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated: “The financial systems of the department of defence are so snarled up that we can’t account for some $2.6 trillion in transactions that exist, if that’s believable.”
It’s no wonder that the Pentagon continuously refuses to be audited. Just last year the Pentagon was exposed for paying a PR firm $500 million to create fake terrorist videos to paint Al-Qaeda in a negative light (read more about that here). If the Pentagon is involved with false-flag terrorism and the seriously deep-rooted 9/11 propaganda campaign, what else is it hiding?
The Department of Defense’s involvement in black budget programs and blatant overspending and loss of assets puts its reputation into serious question. Combine this with its close ties to the private sector and false-flag terrorism, and it becomes obvious that it’s time for the Pentagon to be audited so we can finally shed some light on their operations.
Media Misses Key Detail On Recent Trump GMO/Pesticide Ban ‘Lifting’, Here’s Why
- The Facts:
Trump's administration recently released a memo cancelling a 2014 Obama-era memo about GMOs and neonicotinoid pesticide use. The media covered this story as a 'lifting of a ban' on GMOs, yet that's not what either memo says.
- Reflect On:
Why are we still leaving the door open for GMO and pesticide use in both administrations? Why is the media, across the whole board here, using any story possible to put people against the current administration? Has the deep state lost control?
In early August, Trump’s administration released a new memo from the Fish and Wildlife Service stating that the 2014 version of the memo, out of Obama’s administration would be cancelled and the terms of the new memo would now be in place.
The memo was in reference to a GMO and neonicotinoid bans that put in place to help protect the bee population and wildlife refuges. The 2014 memo was a positive step forward as it was publicly stating, even at higher governmental levels, that GMOs were harmful to agriculture and wildlife, as were neonics. This initial memo was coined a GMO and neonics ban, even though the language in the memo doesn’t actually say that.
Before we continue, we recognize and have painstakingly covered, the dangers of neonicotinoid pesticides and GMOs on our environment and wildlife. We have called for an all-out ban, based on our research, numerous times over the last 6 years and still hold completely strong to that truth.
What is discussed in both of these memos in regards to how to go about using pesticides and GMOs are NOT safe for our environment and wildlife. The fact that both administrations are leaving the door open for use is not in humanities best interest.
The 2014 Memo
Specifically, the 2014 Obama-era memo states that when it comes to both GMOs and neonicotinoid pesticides, they can be used on a case by case basis when refuge managers request such and the case is brought through the proper channels of approval.
Below is a piece of that memo, which can also be viewed here, referring to the requested use of neonics.
When it came to the subject of GMOs in the 2014 memo, Obama’s administration made their stance very clear as well:
In both cases, we see that it was never an all-out ban, but simply an open door where neonicotinoid pesticide use and GMO use to be requested and reviewed on a case by case basis.
Now let’s have a look at the 2018 memos that resulted in media coverage alluding to a ‘lifting of the GMO and neonic ban’ put in place by the Obama administration.
“The Trump administration has rescinded an Obama-era ban on the use of pesticides linked to declining bee populations and the cultivation of genetically modified crops in dozens of national wildlife refuges where farming is permitted.” Reuters
The 2018 Memo
When referring to GMOs, the 2018 memo states:
And when speaking about neonicotinoid pesticides the 2018 memo states:
As you can see once again in both cases, the language is the same. There was never an all-out ban in place, and all uses will be based on approval on a case by case basis.
What Media Coverage In This Way?
When we initially printed this story, we only had access to the 2018 memo that was recently released. Based on widespread media coverage and the memo itself, it appeared as though this was, in fact, a lifting of the ban. But once we got our hands on the 2014 memo from the Obama admin, it became clear this was the same language, and that the media was now weaponizing this story against Trump’s administration.
You may follow CE’s work a lot, or you may be new to it, we are politically neutral and do not side with political parties in any way. We report on what ACTUALLY happens, not a slanted angle based on a political agenda. In that perspective, we are not attached to events but can instead see how they play into a big picture.
With that said, why did the media cover this story in a manner that was so damning to the Trump administration?
We have been reporting on the fact that from our observation, experience, and analysis, as well as our conversations with contacts we have connected to the intelligence communities, we feel that Trump has come into this space as an outsider to the specific cabal/deep state group that has been in control for many many decades. This was the cabal group that would have put Hillary in place if there wasn’t a divide taking place in the intelligence community that had the plan flipped. You can learn about that in detail here.
Leading up to the election, and since he has been POTUS, Trump has been all out attacked by every single news station, with the exception of FOX, in a big way – an unprecedented happenstance. Since we know that only 5 corporations own all of the US media, and these 5 corporations are tied to powerful elite within the deep state, it would begin to seem like a war on an outsider more than anything else. Again, a detail we have covered in depth over the last 2 years as many examples of this have surfaced.
Below is a video that dives into this story and the deep state involvement in more detail, but the thing to note here is, we must step beyond identity politics and siding with a political party in general if we want to see the truth of our world and begin to change it. This is the illusion being set forth to divide us and keep us from unifying under a deep understanding. Before we react to and believe much of what is coming out of the mainstream media today, we must recognize this deeper war taking place here and dig deeper to find the truth.
World’s Largest Study On Cell Tower Radiation Confirms Cancer Link
- The Facts:
A groundbreaking study shows the strong connection between Cell Phone towers and cancer. It's one of many showing how electromagnetic radiation is harming human health at an exponential rate, and another example of industry trumps science.
- Reflect On:
There are thousands of scientists creating awareness about this, but the industry has become so powerful that they can do whatever they want. How are they allowed to continue when we have definitive proof of harmful health effects? What's going on?
Scientists call on the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer to re-evaluate the carcinogenicity of cell phone radiation after the Ramazzini Institute and US government studies report finding the same unusual cancers.
I am posting this article with the permission of Environmental Health Trust and can be found online at ehtrust.org.
(Washington, DC) – Researchers with the renowned Ramazzini Institute (RI) in Italy announced that a large-scale lifetime study of lab animals exposed to environmental levels of cell tower radiation developed cancer. A $25 million study of much higher levels of cell phone radiofrequency (RF) radiation, from the US National Toxicology Program (NTP), has also reported finding the same unusual cancer called Schwannoma of the heart in male rats treated at the highest dose. In addition, the RI study of cell tower radiation also found increases in malignant brain (glial) tumors in female rats and precancerous conditions including Schwann cells hyperplasia in both male and female rats.
The study findings are making headline news. Read the Corriere Di Bologna article “Cellulari, a study by Ramazzini: “They cause very rare tumours.”
“Our findings of cancerous tumours in rats exposed to environmental levels of RF are consistent with and reinforce the results of the US NTP studies on cell phone radiation, as both reported increases in the same types of tumours of the brain and heart in Sprague-Dawley rats. Together, these studies provide sufficient evidence to call for the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to re-evaluate and re-classify their conclusions regarding the carcinogenic potential of RFR in humans,” said Fiorella Belpoggi Ph.D., study author and RI Director of Research.
The Ramazzini study exposed 2448 Sprague-Dawley rats from prenatal life until their natural death to “environmental” cell tower radiation for 19 hours per day (1.8 GHz GSM radiofrequency radiation (RFR) of 5, 25 and 50 V/m). RI exposures mimicked base station emissions like those from cell tower antennas, and exposure levels were far less than those used in the NTP studies of cell phone radiation.
“All of the exposures used in the Ramazzini study were below the US FCC limits. These are permissible exposures according to the FCC. In other words, a person can legally be exposed to this level of radiation. Yet cancers occurred in these animals at these legally permitted levels. The Ramazzini findings are consistent with the NTP study demonstrating these effects are a reproducible finding,” explained Ronald Melnick Ph.D., formerly the Senior NIH toxicologist who led the design of the NTP study on cell phone radiation now a Senior Science Advisor to Environmental Health Trust (EHT). “Governments need to strengthen regulations to protect the public from these harmful non-thermal exposures.”
“This important article from one of the most acclaimed institutions of its kind in the world provides a major new addition to the technical literature indicating strong reasons for concern about electromagnetic radiation from base stations or cell towers,” stated Editor in Chief of Environmental Research Jose Domingo PhD, Professor of Toxicology, School of Medicine at Reus University, Catalonia, Spain.
“The US NTP results combined now with the Ramazzini study, reinforce human studies from our team and others providing clear evidence that RF radiation causes acoustic neuromaa (vestibular schwannoma) and gliomas, and should be classified carcinogenic to humans,” stated Lennart Hardell MD, PhD, physician-epidemiologist with the Department of Oncology, University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden, who has published extensively on environmental causes of cancer including Agent Orange, pesticides and cell phone radiofrequency radiation.
“The evidence indicating wireless is carcinogenic has increased and can no longer be ignored,” stated University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health Professor Emeritus Anthony B. Miller MD, Member of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of Canada and the UK, and Senior Medical Advisor to EHT who is also a long-term advisor to the World Health Organization.
“This study raises concerns that simply living close to a cell tower will pose threats to human health. Governments need to take measures to reduce exposures from cell tower emissions. Cell towers should not be near schools, hospitals or people’s homes. Public health agencies need to educate the public on how to reduce exposure from all sources of wireless radiofrequency radiation—be it from cell towers or cell phones or Wi-Fi in schools,” stated David O. Carpenter MD, former Dean of the School of Public Health at the University at Albany. “This is particularly urgent because of current plans to place small 5G cell towers about every 300 meters in every street across the country. These 5G ‘small cell’ antennas will result in continuous exposure to everyone living nearby and everyone walking down the street. The increased exposures will increase risk of cancer and other diseases such as electro-hypersensitivity.”
You can listen to the full press conference below:
Ramazzini Institute investigators have completed nearly 500 cancer bioassays on more than 200 compounds, and their study design is unique in that animals are allowed to live until their natural deaths in order to allow detection of late-developing tumors. Eighty percent of all human cancers are late-developing, occurring in humans after 60 years of age. This longer observation period has allowed the RI to detect such later-occurring tumors for a number of chemicals, and their published research includes studies of benzene, xylenes, mancozeb, formaldehyde and vinyl chloride.
The Ramazzini research results come in the wake of similar findings from the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) large-scale experimental studies on cell phone radiation. Both studies found statistically significant increases in the development of the same type of very rare and highly malignant tumor in the heart of male rats—schwannomas.
“This publication is a serious cause for concern,” stated Annie J. Sasco MD, DrPH, SM, MPH, retired Director of Research at the INSERM (French NIH) and former Unit Chief at the International Agency for Research on Cancer/World Health Organization, France, who commented that, “some of the results are not statistically significant due to the relatively small number of animals involved. Yet, that does not mean they should be ignored. Larger studies could turn out statistically significant results and in any event statistical significance is just one aspect of the evaluation of the relation between exposure and disease. Biological significance and concordance of results between humans and animals clearly reinforces the strength of the evidence of carcinogenicity. The facts that both experimental studies found the same types of rare tumours, which also have pertinence to the human clinical picture, is striking,”
“Such findings of effects at very low levels are not unexpected,” stated Devra Davis Ph.D., MPH, president of EHT, pointing to a Jacobs University replication animal study published in 2015 that also found very low levels of RFR promoted tumour growth. “This study confirms an ever-growing literature and provides a wake-up call to governments to enact protective policy to limit exposures to the public and to the private sector to make safe radiation-free technology available.”
In January 2017 at an international conference co-sponsored by Environmental Health Trust and the Israel Institute for Advanced Study at Hebrew University, Fiorella Belpoggi PhD, Director of Research at the Ramazzini Institute, presented the study design and the findings that RFR-exposed animals had significantly lower litter weights. Belpoggi’s presentation and slides are available online. The Ramazzini findings of lower litter weights are consistent with the NTP study, which also found lower litter weights in prenatally exposed animals. At that time, the Italian journal Corriere published an article about the presentation of the Ramazzini study and quoted Belpoggi’s recommendation of “maximum precaution for children and pregnant women.”
Noting that “current standards were not set to protect children, pregnant women, and the growing numbers of infants and toddlers for whom devices have become playthings,” Davis, who is also Visiting Professor of Medicine of Hebrew University Medical Center and Guest Editor in Chief of the journal Environmental Research, added, “Current two-decade-old FCC limits were set when the average call was six minutes and costly cell phones were used by very few. These important, new, game-changing studies show that animals develop the same types of unusual cancers that are being seen in those few human epidemiological studies that have been done. In light of these results, Environmental Health Trust joins with public health experts from the states of California, Connecticut and Maryland, as well as those in France, Israel and Belgium to call on government and the private sector to carry out major ongoing public health educational campaigns to promote safer phone and personal device technology, to require and expedite fundamental changes in hardware and software to reduce exposures to RFR/microwave radiation throughout indoor and outdoor environments, and to institute major monitoring, training and research programs to identify solutions, future problems and prevention of related hazards and risks.”
“More than a dozen countries recommend reducing radiofrequency radiation exposure to children, and countries such as China, Italy, India and Russia have far more stringent cell tower radiation regulations in place when compared to the United States FCC. However, this study provides scientific evidence that governments can use to take even further action,” stated Theodora Scarato, Executive Director of EHT.
The article is “Report of final results regarding brain and heart tumors in Sprague-Dawley rats exposed from prenatal life until natural death to mobile phone radiofrequency field representative of a 1.8 GHz base station environmental emission” by L. Falcioni, L. Bua, E.Tibaldi, M. Lauriola, L. De Angelis, F. Gnudi, D. Mandrioli, M. Manservigi, F. Manservisi, I. Manzoli, I. Menghetti, R. Montella, S. Panzacchi, D. Sgargi, V. Strollo, A.Vornoli, F. Belpoggi . It appears in Environmental Research published by Elsevier.
This study is making headline news. See examples here:
About Environmental Research
Environmental Research publishes original reports describing studies of the adverse effects of environmental agents on humans and animals. The principal aim of the journal is to assess the impact of chemicals and microbiological pollutants on human health. Both in vivo and in vitro studies, focused on defining the etiology of environmentally induced illness and to increase understanding of the mechanisms by which environmental agents cause disease, are especially welcome. Investigations on the effects of global warming/climate change on the environment and public health, as well as those focused on the effects of anthropogenic activities on climate change are also of particular interest.
About Environmental Health Trust
EHT is a scientific virtual think tank conducting cutting-edge research on environmental health risks with some of the world’s top researchers. EHT educates individuals, health professionals and communities about policy changes needed to reduce those risks. EHT maintains a regularly updated database of worldwide precautionary policies: more than a dozen countries recommend reducing wireless exposure to children.
Ramazzini Institute Resources
National Toxicology Program (NTP) Cell Phone Radiation
National Toxicology Program (NTP) Cell Phone Radiation
Conference Call Bios
Fiorella Belpoggi, PhD
Lead author of the new study will discuss how the research was designed to test cell tower base station radiation association with cancer. Dr. Belpoggi is the Director of the Ramazzini Institute Research Department and Director of the Cesare Maltoni Research Center, Bologna, Italy. Dr. Belpoggi has been invited as an expert participant to meetings on the evaluation and safety of chemicals at the European Parliament, at the Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs and at the European Food Safety Agency and as a temporary advisor to the World Health Organization/European Centre for Environment and Health .Ramazzini Institute investigators have completed nearly 500 cancer bioassays on more than 200 compounds. Full Bio
Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD
Dr. Hardell is a clinical and medical research doctor at the Department of Oncology, University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden. He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific articles specializing in epidemiological research studying cancer risks related to exposure to environmental toxins such as Agent Orange, the herbicide glyphosate, and cell phone radiofrequency radiation. As one of the world’s leading experts on this topic, he served as an expert on the World Health Organization International Agency for the Research on Cancer EMF (Electromagnetic Fields) Working Group for the classification of radiofrequency fields in 2011. Bio here.
Ron Melnick, PhD
Dr. Melnick is a toxicologist, served 28 years a a scientist with the National Institutes of Health focused on assessing human health risks of environmental chemicals. He lead the design of the $28 Million National Toxicology Program(NTP) Studies on Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation. Dr. Melnick can discuss comparisons between the Ramazzini Institute research and the recently released NTP data on cell phone exposure on rats and mice.
David O. Carpenter, MD
Dr. Carpenter is a public health physician and graduate of Harvard Medical School. He is the Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment, a Collaborating Centre of the World Health Organization, and former Dean of the School of Public Health at the University at Albany. He has been involved in this topic since the 1980s when he served as the Executive Secretary of the New York State Powerlines Project. He is Co-editor of the Bioinitiative Report and has testified on EMF issues to both houses of Congress and also to the President’s Cancer Panel. He has two books and numerous publications on EMF, and over 400 peer-reviewed publications on various aspects of human health and environmental exposures. Bio here
Devra Davis, MPH, PhD
Dr. Davis is an epidemiologist, former member of the National Toxicology Program Scientific Review Board is currently Visiting Professor of Medicine at The Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel, and Ondokuz Mayis University Medical School, Turkey. She was Founding Director, Center for Environmental Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. President of Environmental Health Trust, she is also an award-winning scientist and author on environmental health issues. She can address the emerging studies on cell phone radiation worldwide. Full Bio
Watch Dr. Melnick present on the NTP study last year in this video.
© 2018 Environmental Health Trust. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Environmental Health Trust ehtrust.org. Want to learn more? Sign up for the newsletter here. Link is here https://ehtrust.org/
Don’t Buy Anyone An Amazon Echo – Not Even Yourself
- The Facts:
A group of hackers have successfully turned the Amazon Echo into a surveillance tool to listen in on the conversations of unknowing targets.
- Reflect On:
Even if hacking these devices is difficult to do, does the fact that it is possible to make you reconsider using "smart speakers" such as these? What is your privacy worth to you?
In recent years “smart speakers” are becoming popular as home tools to assist with day-to-day tasks; making phone calls, searching google and basically anything else you might use your phone for. Upon command, they wake up and complete the task given and offer a hands-free, voice-activated method to make our lives easier, so what could possibly go wrong? Well, recently a group of Chinese hackers have figured out a way to use the popular Amazon Echo as a spy device and listen in on the day-to-day conversations of targeted individuals.
This group of hackers has spent months developing a new method for essentially hijacking the Echo. While it is far from a total takeover of the smart speakers, it is, from what we know, the closest thing to a practical demonstration of how these devices can absolutely be utilized as a method of secret surveillance.
During the recent DefCon security conference, researchers Wu HuiYu and Qian Wenxiang shared their presentation called, Breaking Smart Speakers: We Are Listening To You, explaining how they hacked into an Amazon Echo and turned it into a spy bug.
Now, before we start thinking Big Brother is listening, it is important to know that this hack involved a modified version of the echo, which did have some parts swapped out. However, this doctored device was still able to hack into other, non-modified devices and it does so by connecting both the hackers Echo and a regular Echo to the same local area network, or LAN. This process allowed the hackers to turn their own modified Echo into a listening bug by relaying audio from the other Echo’s speakers without any indication that they were transmitting anything.
Although this was a difficult process, the Chinese hackers proved that it was, in fact, possible and could represent a first step towards exploiting this increasingly popular device.
So, What Does Amazon Have To Say?
Before the presentation, the researchers notified Amazon of the upcoming exploit and they pushed out some security fixes back in July when asked about the attack from Wired, the company responded by stating that, “customers do not need to take any action as their devices have been automatically updated with security fixes.” The spokesperson added that “this issue would have required a malicious actor to have physical access to a device and the ability to modify the device hardware.”
Unfortunately, that last statement overlooks the fact that the hackers did not have access to the physical device that they were intercepting — only the LAN and anyone can get their own Echo quite easily online and in stores. So, although Amazon updated the security of these devices, it is still possible that hackers could once again, figure out a way to gain access to the device.
According to the hackers,
“After a period of practice, we can now use the manual soldering method to remove the firmware chip…from the motherboard and extract the firmware within 10 minutes, then modify the firmware within 5 minutes and [attach it] back to the device board,” they write. “The success rate is nearly 100 percent. We have used this method to create a lot of rooted Amazon Echo devices.”
Do We Need To Be Concerned?
To be able to effectively and easily hack an Echo remotely wouldn’t be easy, says Jake Williams, a former member of the NSA’s elite hacking team Tailored Access Operations. However, if spies were able to take over a device like the Echo it would make a powerful tool for surveillance because unlike a phone, it picks up sound from a room, not only right next to the device, but anywhere in earshot.
“These smart speakers are designed to pick up all the noises in the room, listen and transcribe them,” says Williams. “As a result, they’d make phenomenal listening devices if you can exploit them.”
Let’s not forget about what happened earlier this year where a couple from Portland, Oregon received a phone call from a person they knew warning them to unplug your Alexa device right now, you’re being hacked. This person had received a voice mail which contained a private message between the couple talking about hardwood floors. You can read more about that here.
I Have Nothing To Hide, Why Should I Care?
This is a common response from many people in regards to privacy issues. But this issue goes so much deeper than that. As Edward Snowden says,
“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”
We have a right to our privacy. If these devices can, in fact, be used as surveillance tool’s then there is a very good chance that they are being used. We have already seen a tremendous level of corruption from the NSA spying on Americans’ and even Facebook violating our rights and using messenger to listen in on our conversations. Why would we feel that these devices that are literally plugged into our homes and flat out listening to us and our “commands” couldn’t be used as a method of surveillance?
Cell phone’s alone have been proven to be able to listen in even when the phone is turned off. These smart speakers have even more capacity as they pick up sound all over the place and have a much broader range.
Should you let this stop you from getting your own Echo or similar device? Well, that’s up for you to decide, for me it’s not worth it.
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