WikiLeaks has much more detailed information about CIA hacking techniques and will allow tech companies access so they can "develop fixes" before the information is more widely published, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Thursday.
The news conference took place at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, where he has been holed up since seeking asylum in 2012. Assange spoke two days after WikiLeaks published thousands of documents it said revealed hacking tools the CIA developed to break into servers, smartphones, computers and TVs.
"The Central Intelligence Agency lost control of its entire cyberweapons arsenal," Assange said. "This is an historic act of devastating incompetence to have created such an arsenal and stored it all in one place and not secured it."
Assange said the website hasn't published the weapons themselves because it doesn't want "journalists and people of the world, our sources, being hacked using these weapons."
The website claims the CIA Center for Cyber Intelligence "lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal," more than several hundred million lines of code that provide "the entire hacking capacity of the CIA."
WikiLeaks says the archive appears to have been circulated among former government hackers and contractors, one of whom provided WikiLeaks with portions of it. The website says the CIA hacking division involved "more than 5,000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other 'weaponized' malware."
The FBI has launched a criminal investigation into the public release of a document cache, a U.S. official told USA TODAY this week. The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said the inquiry will seek to determine whether the disclosure represented a breach from the outside or a leak from inside the spy agency. A separate review will attempt to assess the damage caused by such a disclosure, the official said.
CIA spokesman Dean Boyd declined to vouch for the authenticity of the materials, though he defended the agency's mission to "aggressively collect foreign intelligence overseas to protect America from terrorists, hostile nation states and other adversaries.'' Boyd said the CIA is prohibited from conducting electronic surveillance targeting individuals here at home and "does not do so."
Contributing: Kevin Johnson, Doug Stanglin