Elizabeth Fraser



Hacking, Bizarre Claims and Constitutionality

After watching hours of FBI Director Comey testify before a congressional committee, it was clear that everything after the first ten minutes was bluster or stonewalling. It was a small consolation that the strange events that preceded this hearing were being investigated for appropriate reasons.

When president Trump tweeted out that he had been wiretapped by former President Barak Obama, it was at best, bizarre. A normal reaction from a sitting president who found out he had been spied on would be to accumulate the evidence and then proceed with appropriate legal action.

It’s been pretty well established that his tweets are merely responses to tabloid journalism, and validating his claims any further by saying that the situation is under investigation has no appeal to me. However, FBI director James Comey has been summoned to testify before a joint committee regarding the merits of the investigation.

With regard to the original claim that Obama wiretapped Trump, it becomes more and more obvious every day that the claim was an untethered rant, based on tabloid reports instead of government intelligence. The story continued to have legs even when it became evident that they were baseless. Part of the credibility comes from the fact that we all feel a certain level of cyber-vulnerability.

The ubiquitous cyber-attacks on all of the sectors of our society, including medical (8.5 percent of hacks), business (54.9 percent of hacks) and the government (16.1 percent), have left most people feeling understandably uneasy. The fact that there continue to be procedural steps taken into this vapor should give Americans increased faith in the laws that are ostensibly there to protect citizens, namely, the 4th Amendment.

Americans are protected under the 4th Amendment from unwarranted surveillance by the government. It’s important to distinguish that in order for the government to get a surveillance warrant to wiretap a US citizen, credible evidence must be shown to a federal judge that the target of the surveillance is an acting foreign agent.

These recent events originally made Americans suspicious as to what is required to get a FISA warrant to surveil American citizens. This ongoing saga surrounds our major politicians, and hacking has brought the subject under a very bright light. For many, the idea that our most powerful and high profile leaders are also vulnerable to cyber-insecurity creates concerns. But there is comfort in the knowledge that even at the highest levels of government, in this case the president, an unauthorized and unwarranted wiretap of a US citizens cannot be done legally.

These assurances do little regarding the wave of private hacking and breaches that cost over $400 billion dollars globally each year. Earlier this month, Wikileaks revealed Vault 7, the largest ever cache of confidential documents in US history. This proved that every section of our world is vulnerable, but it had an unintended positive effect. The leak created some confidence that our government isn’t simply a lawless rogue actor, who will violate you and your rights for whatever gain possible. As a result, people are using encryption for their sensitive texts and emails, but many feel violated by the idea that this is even necessary.

In the digital age, secret conversations are no longer written with lemon juice on parchment, which makes them subject to very different vulnerabilities. It has grown to a point where ethical hacking has become a field of study for those who want to become part of the law in the world of cyber engagements. As this story sorts itself out, it is becoming clear that cybersecurity is an increasingly important concern in the sensitive areas of our lives. Regardless of whether or not various claims are true, the fact that sensitive information is vulnerable is of increasing importance.