WikiLeaks will work with technology companies to help defend them against the CIA’s hacking tools, founder Julian Assange said Thursday. The move sets up a potential conflict between Silicon Valley firms eager to protect their products and an intelligence agency stung by the radical transparency group’s disclosures.
In an online news conference, Assange acknowledged that some companies had asked for more details about the CIA cyber-espionage toolkit that he purportedly revealed in a massive disclosure earlier this week.
Once tech firms had patched their products, he said, he would release the full data of the hacking tools to the public.
In response to Assange’s news conference, CIA spokeswoman Heather Fritz Horniak said: “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.”
The CIA has so far declined to comment directly on the authenticity of the leak, but in a statement issued Wednesday it said such releases are damaging because they equip adversaries “with tools and information to do us harm.”
Assange began his online press conference with a dig at the agency for losing control of its cyber-espionage arsenal, saying that all the data had been kept in one place. “This is a historic act of devastating incompetence,” he said, adding that, “WikiLeaks discovered the material as a result of it being passed around.”
Assange said the technology was nearly impossible to keep under wraps—or under control.
The CIA wouldn’t confirm Wednesday that the material came from its files, although no one is doubting that it did. The CIA wouldn’t talk about whether there was any investigation underway to figure out how the material ended up on the internet for all to see. And the agency wouldn’t say whether it suspects that a mole lurking inside the CIA secretly spirited the material to WikiLeaks, or whether the CIA could have been the victim of a hack.