WikiLeaks will work with technology companies to help defend them against the Central Intelligence Agency’s hacking tools, founder Julian Assange said on Thursday, an approach which sets up a potential conflict between Silicon Valley firms eager to protect their products and an agency stung by the radical transparency group’s disclosures.
In an online press conference, Assange acknowledged that some companies had asked for more details about the CIA cyberespionage toolkit whose existence he purportedly revealed in a massive leak published on Tuesday.
“We have decided to work with them, to give them some exclusive access to some of the technical details we have, so that fixes can be pushed out,” Assange said. Once tech firms had patched their products, he said, he would release the full data of the hacking tools to the public.
The CIA has so far declined to comment directly on the authenticity of the leak, but in a statement issued on Wednesday, it suggested that the release had been damaging by equipping 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 cyberespionage 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.
“There’s absolutely nothing to stop a random CIA officer” or even a contractor from using the technology, Assange said. “The technology is designed to be unaccountable, untraceable; it’s designed to remove traces of its activity.”