Life Tech Julian Assange says tech firms ask for Wikileaks help to thwart CIA

Julian Assange says tech firms ask for Wikileaks help to thwart CIA

Julian Assange BBC Comedy
Assange says Wikileaks has high profile allies in the fight against the CIA. Photo: Getty
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WikiLeaks will provide technology companies with exclusive access to CIA hacking tools that it possesses, to allow them to patch software flaws, founder Julian Assange says.

The anti-secrecy group published documents on Tuesday describing secret Central Intelligence Agency hacking tools and snippets of computer code.
It did not publish the full programs needed to conduct cyber exploits against phones, computers and internet-connected televisions.

“Considering what we think is the best way to proceed and hearing these calls from some of the manufacturers, we have decided to work with them to give them some exclusive access to the addition technical details that we have so that the fixes can be developed and pushed out, so people can be secure,” Assange said during an online press conference on Thursday.

Responding to the Australian’s comments, CIA spokesman Jonathan Liu, said in a statement, “As we’ve said previously, Julian Assange is not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity.”

“Despite the efforts of Assange and his ilk, CIA continues to aggressively collect foreign intelligence overseas to protect America from terrorists, hostile nation states and other adversaries.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer says President Donald Trump has “grave concern” about the release of classified material and believes the systems at the CIA are outdated.

Spokespeople for Alphabet Inc’s Google, Apple Inc , Microsoft Corp and Cisco Systems Inc , all of whose wares are subject to attacks described in the documents, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

But several companies have already said they are confident their recent security updates already accounted for the alleged flaws described in the CIA documents.

Apple said in a statement that “many of the issues” leaked had already been patched in the latest version of its operating system.

WikiLeaks’ publication of the documents reignited a debate about whether US intelligence agencies should hoard serious cyber security vulnerabilities rather than share them with the public.

An interagency process created under former President Barack Obama called for erring on the side of disclosure.

Two US intelligence and law enforcement officials told Reuters that intelligence agencies have been aware since the end of last year of a breach at the CIA, which led to WikiLeaks releasing thousands of pages of information on its website.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said contractors likely breached security and handed the documents to WikiLeaks.

The CIA has declined to comment on the authenticity of the leak, but the officials said they believed the documents about hacking techniques used between 2013 and 2016 were authentic.

Assange said he possessed “a lot more information” about the CIA’s cyber arsenal that would be released soon. He criticised the CIA for “devastating incompetence” for not being able to control access to such sensitive material.

Nigel Farage, the former leader of the populist UK Independence Party, visited Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy in London earlier on Thursday. A representative for Farage said he was unaware what was discussed.

Assange has been holed up since 2012 at the embassy, where he fled to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of rape, which he denies.

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