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 cyberespionage toolkit that he purportedly revealed in a massive disclosure earlier this week.

“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.

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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.”

Julian Assange in Grossbritannien festgenommen
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

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 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.”

The CIA wouldn’t confirm Wednesday that the material came from its files, although no one is doubting that it did.

Source: MPR News

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