Home Security Vault 7: WikiLeaks to help firms patch CIA exploits

Vault 7: WikiLeaks to help firms patch CIA exploits

WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange says the organisation will share unpublished data from its CIA document dump with technology companies to enable them to fix vulnerabilities that are detailed in the documents released.

He said WikiLeaks had come to the conclusion that it should share details which had not been made public in order to help companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google and others to fix the vulnerabilities that had been detailed in the Vault 7 material in order to protect ordinary users.

The initial dump, released overnight on Tuesday US time, was named Vault 7.

During an online press conference held overnight, Assange said once the remaining material — which he said was a very large amount — had been vetted and critical details redacted, it would be released to the public.

He claimed the CIA had lost control of its entire cyber weapon collection.

It smacked of incompetence that the CIA had created such a huge arsenal of exploits and stored it in one place. "WikiLeaks discovered the material as a result of it being passed around," he said.

Assange said one virus researcher had informed WikiLeaks a day or two ago that his machines had been attacked by an exploit for the Apple Mac that was mentioned in the Vault 7 dump.

"So it looks like the exploits are not only being passed around by government contractors or American hackers, but also in the black market," he claimed.

"The CIA developed a giant arsenal, what appears to be the largest arsenal of trojans and viruses in the world that attacks most of the systems that journalists, people in government, politicians, chief executives and average people use. (They) didn't secure it, (they) lost control of it, and then appear to have covered up that fact."

Assange said some reports, plus messages received by WikiLeaks, indicated that in the last few months the CIA had become aware that it had lost this material and had not disclosed this fact, "not to the public, at least".

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Julian Assange says it smacked of incompetence that the CIA had created such a huge arsenal of exploits and stored it in one place.

"They have not warned the public that there was a loose cyber weapons arsenal out there," Assange said, adding that it would be an interesting question as to who in government circles had been told about the data loss.

"Did it (the CIA) tell (former US President) Barack Obama? Did Obama conceal that during the election? After the election? Was President Donald Trump informed? And, if so, why has the CIA not acted with speed to come together with Apple, Microsoft and other manufacturers to defend us all from its own weapon systems?"

Assange said this brought into question the entire concept of cyber warfare, because it was WikiLeaks' analysis — one he claimed was also shared by many experts — that it was impossible to retain effective control of cyber weapons.

"What does that mean? It means that if you build them, eventually you will lose them. They are just information and there is no barrier to them spreading across the world. They must be used on the Internet, so they must be placed on the Internet to be used.

"They must go to computers to infect them. Therefore, when that occurs, they can get out of control and there's a very easy cover for any grey market operator or contractor or rogue intelligence agent to take that material and start a company with it."

He said it was fortunate that WikiLeaks had gained possession of the Vault 7 material because manufacturers would now have access to it in order to put counter-measures in place to protect users.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.