Julian Assange: 'WikiLeaks will give tech firms exclusive access to CIA cyberweapons'

Jason Murdock
Julian Assange

Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, said he plans to share unprecedented technical details about a slew of alleged Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) hacking tools with major technology firms before releasing them into the public domain.

"We want to secure communications technology," he claimed during a live-stream on 9 March. Assange was speaking two days after his anti-secrecy organisation leaked a trove of data from the CIA – including malware used to attack iOS and Android smartphones.

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"After considering what we think is the best way to proceed we have decided to work with them [technology firms] and give them exclusive access to technical details," he said, adding this will let the companies develop security patches to secure customers.

"After we will publish additional details about what has been occurring," Assange said.

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The source of the leak remains unknown, WikiLeaks indicated the individual was most likely a US government-linked hacker or contractor.

It said the motivation of the culprit was to ensure the CIA's hacking abilities and oversight regime received proper debate in a public forum.

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The FBI is currently probing the leak. WikiLeaks' official Twitter account asserted the first batch – dubbed Vault 7 – was "less than 1%" of its overall collection of documents pilfered from inside the secretive spy agency's cyber unit based in Langley, Virginia.

Assange, talking from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he lives under political asylum, said the CIA should be questioned about when it first became aware the data had been stolen – which he claimed was one of the largest arsenals of Trojans in the world.

He said if the agency was aware that hacking tools were in the wild it should have warned the government and major technology firms, such as Apple and Google.

WikiLeaks did not publish the full list of cyberweapons.

"We have published documents describing them. We don't want our sources being hacked using these weapons," he said, before reasserting the promise that more material will be released in the future. "WikiLeaks has a lot more information," he added.

The CIA has not yet confirmed the authenticity of the leak however in a statement on its website, the agency addresses some key points. It said: "It is CIA's job to be innovative, cutting-edge, and the first line of defence in protecting this country from enemies abroad. America deserves nothing less.

"The American public should be deeply troubled by any Wikileaks disclosure designed to damage the Intelligence Community's ability to protect America against terrorists and other adversaries.

"Such disclosures not only jeopardise US personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm."

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