Vault 7, the latest document dump courtesy of WikiLeaks, has been the center of attention for much of the Internet’s exclusive media outlets. However, among the many reports that tell readers how insecure our digital devices are and how privacy is nonexistent in America, very few take the time to detail the humor in the C.I.A.’s quirky methodology and surprising priorities. Here we will be bringing attention to some of the more light-hearted reveals in Vault 7 that have largely been overlooked by media outlets.
1. Cultural References and Memes
Anyone who has gone through their life believing the C.I.A. to be a stuffy bureau with no appreciation for pop culture and cheesy jokes will find their world turned upside down after this leak. As it turns out, this division of the government has a top secret stash of dank memes. They aren’t quick to shy away from various media references either, such as naming some of their projects after films including “Fight Club” and “Gremlins,” planning to name tools after various TVTropes, and even using cherished (if awful) memes as the code for some framework.
2. Stealing a Hacking Tutorial from Reddit
The Internet has had an unfair reputation of being an unreliable source of information, but it seems that the Central Intelligence Agency considers our darling world wide web among the most trustworthy places to gather data. Specifically, the Agency crawled around certain pockets of Reddit to discover how to hack into accounts on Windows 8, as well as how to bypass the activation of that very same operating system.
Still, it seems that the C.I.A. didn’t have the courtesy to offer these Redditors a position with their agency despite their findings and startling contributions to the U.S. Government’s memorandums.
3. Capture the Flag for Interns
As part of the C.I.A.’s initial training for their interns, they incorporate a classic outdoor activity (and common mode in modern video games) in a setting of digital infiltration. Capture the Flag is a game of stealing an opponent’s property or intelligence and claiming it for your own personal gain.
The C.I.A. remain true to the core concept of the game as they train their newest members on how to retrieve intelligence from individuals’ computers, going as far as giving detailed instructions on how to disguise their programs, bypass antivirus and custom firewall protection, and override administrative settings to forcibly gain what should be private information of the American populace.
4. Pizza … with Extra Cheese
Along with the thousands of emails that were leaked, some other files found their way into the hands of the folks at WikiLeaks. Among these, are a 255-page guide on how to incorporate the C++ messaging framework, ZeroMQ (ØMQ). Despite the subject matter of the guide (or, perhaps, due to its length), there are a multitude of puns, silly anecdotes, and outright peculiar sentiments scattered throughout.
It is difficult to interpret the intention behind these choices in the document, but with the mention of pizza cravings and how code is edible, the article gives off the impression that it was written in one long sitting, without even a single lunch break for its deteriorating author.
5. High-Priority Emojis
While the C.I.A.’s unexpected adoration of memes and dad jokes certainly bring some levity to an otherwise daunting revelation of news, the most amusing discovery Vault 7 has brought to the public eye may very well be the C.I.A.’s record of emojis. Not only do they keep track of an extensive amount of the most commonly used emojis (including the table-flip emoji, Le Lenny face, and the Y U NO Guy), they seem to be quite comfortable with using these very same emojis themselves.
The intended endgame with a list of silly text faces is, once again, difficult to decipher, but it showcases the eccentric priorities of one of the government’s most revered, yet worrisome departments.
We’ve always believed the C.I.A. to be a stuffy and lifeless bureau. This may still hold true in terms of policy and purpose, but it’s become clear that the individuals working at that agency are just as normal as everyone else using the Internet, even if they’re using its resources for questionable reasons. They are Redditors, they are 9gaggers, they are nerds.
So, at this point in time, only one question may remain about Vault 7. Which is worse – the C.I.A.’s disregard for the sacredness of privacy in America … or their taste in memes?