Wikileaks, the CIA, and a secret

The news has been buzzing with news that Wikileaks has released a dump of confidential information on the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence.  The dump looks to provide more raw information than the Snowden disclosure of 2013.

The hysteria seems to be fueled by the wikileaks’ press release.  Liberally sprinkled with zero day, weaponized, arsenal, cyberwar, and the like, they check all the incendiary terms that news outlets will react to.  The extent of the dump and any damage caused by the exposure will likely not be known for some time.

What strikes me more is the cultural implications.  It is hard to tell whether these folks are self-obsessed, selfie-taking, fame seeking millennials or die hard patriots.    Whether geeky Kardashians or digital Thomas Paine, it is clear that “secrets” don’t stay secrets for long.  Snowden at the NSA and this individual at the CIA (either a current or former employee) exemplify that “security by obscurity” (or securing something by hiding it) is no security at all.

A year ago when the Department of Justice attempted to compel Apple to build a backdoor into its iPhone products, the DoJ claimed it would protect the information.  Many in the security community argued, provided amicus briefs, and supported Apple not because the like terrorists, but because it really is impossible to keep secrets hidden for long.

As Benjamin Franklin is quoted: “Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.”  He was correct in the 1700s.  In the digital age, when anyone can circulate information anonymously in a matter of seconds, maybe we should paraphrase “Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead and the Internet is down.”