Julian Assange, editor in chief of Wikileaks, announced that the organization will work with manufacturers to help them push out fixes following its release of thousands of documents that show how the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) can break into smartphones, computers and other connected devices, dubbed ‘Vault7’.
Speaking in a live, online press conference today, Assange explained that the CIA lost control of its entire cyber-weapons arsenal, which included various viruses, trojans and malware designed to penetrate and control smart devices around the world. He described it as “A historic act of devastating incompetence.”
Further, he claimed that once the CIA had lost control of the trove of cyber-weapons, they attempted to cover it up and failed to notify the public of the incident. He also questioned why the CIA did not act swiftly to come together with companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Google to help them protect their users against it’s own arsenal of weapons.
As reported on Tuesday, the documents show ways that the agency allegedly can hack mobile phones and can bypass the encryption used by messaging services like Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram. After penetrating Android phones, the CIA can collect “audio and message traffic before encryption is applied,” WikiLeaks said.
Assange argued that this incident reflects the nature of cyber-warfare, arguing that “if you build them [cyber-weapons], eventually you will lose them.”
The difficulty with defending against cyber-weapons, he continued, is that it’s very hard to do without detailed information of how they operate. As a result, Wikileaks has taken the decision to share additional details and information it has on the CIA's hacking capabilities with manufacturers to aid them with making fixes to protect their users from interference, details which it will also publicly publish at a later date.
Assange added that Wikileaks is dedicated to fighting for the rights of publication and secure communications, especially relating to investigative journalism, which he claimed will come under threat as a result of the incident.