WikiLeaks to make CIA cyber weapons publicly available online, Julian Assange says

Anti-secrecy organisation will allow companies to see and guard against the weapons before they are made public

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The Independent Tech

WikiLeaks is to publish all of the CIA’s cyber weapons online, Julian Assange has suggested.

The whistleblowing organisation, which previously refrained from publishing details of the US spying agency’s covert hacking programme, began posting what appears to be the biggest ever leak of CIA spying secrets on Tuesday. 

Mr Assange previously argued it would be too dangerous to do so, as the files detail the entire hacking capacity of the CIA for anyone to use. He said he initially refrained from publishing the files online for fear they would find their way into the wrong hands. 

But he has now announced that his organisation plans to post the previously redacted documents online in a series called “Vault 7”.

Mr Assange said he will give technology companies exclusive access to the files before they are published, to allow them adequate time to protect themselves against potential hackers. While companies like Apple and Google claim to have defences already in place, others have said they would not be able to do so fully until the details of the weapons are revealed to them.

Once their defences are in place, the files will be made public, Mr Assange said during a live stream that he appeared to be hosting from his room in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

As soon as the documents are published, the cyber weapons will be rendered useless or – if not properly neutralised by technology companies – will be available for anyone to use. 

When the Vault 7 files were first published online, WikiLeaks said it would wait until people had decided whether those weapons were made available, and has redacted any identifying information until a decision is reached. 

“Wikileaks has carefully reviewed the ‘Year Zero’ disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of ‘armed’ cyber weapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA’s program and how such ‘weapons’ should be analysed, disarmed and published,” WikiLeaks wrote in its original post about the disclosures.

Instead, the Vault 7 files only made reference to the names, purposes and targets of the files. That was enough to make clear that all of the popular manufacturers of phones and computers may be vulnerable to attack, and that those attacks could be used in a wide variety of different ways.

Mr Assange has repeatedly said that more Vault 7 files will be released, and suggested that the initial Year Zero batch was just 1 per cent of all the documents that it has.