Assange: WikiLeaks will help tech firms fix security flaws
Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, said Thursday that the anti-secrecy organization would work with Apple, Google and other technology companies to fix flaws that have allowed the CIA to hack into the phones, computers and other devices they produce.
Speaking from London in an online news conference, Assange accused the CIA of withholding information about the vulnerabilities the agency was exploiting in U.S. technology even after it realized documents describing the flaws had been leaked weeks ago.
While some companies have already fixed the weaknesses revealed in a batch of secret CIA documents made public by WikiLeaks on Tuesday, Assange said, others say they need more technical information on the hacking techniques.
“There’s a limited ability to try and produce security fixes for iPhones, for Samsung TVs, for Android phones produced by Google, for Microsoft, for Linux, because the exact technical details are not known,” Assange said. “We have decided to work with them to give them some exclusive access to the additional technical details we have, so that fixes can be developed and pushed out so people can be secured.”
For Assange, it was a remarkable turning of the tables. He has frequently been accused by U.S. officials of being an enemy of the United States and an ally of Russia, especially since WikiLeaks released emails from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign that were believed to have come from Russian government hackers.
But Thursday the Australian-born Assange presented himself as a defender of some of the most prominent U.S. technology companies against their own government’s overreaching and double-dealing.
“Why has the Central Intelligence Agency not acted with speed to come together with Apple, Microsoft and other manufacturers to defend us all from its own weapons systems?” Assange asked.
The CIA made an unusually full response, attacking Assange’s credibility and noting that any spying it does is restricted by law to foreigners and foreign countries, with Americans off limits.
“As we’ve said previously, Julian Assange is not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity,” Heather Fritz Horniak, an agency spokeswoman, said in a statement. “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 statement declined to acknowledge the authenticity of the more than 8,000 documents from the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence that WikiLeaks posted online, although officials have said privately that the leaked material is genuine. But the statement defended the agency’s use of “innovative, cutting-edge” methods to gather intelligence.
Julian Assange accuses CIA of withholding info.