WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange accused the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency of “devastating incompetence” Thursday after his organization was able to obtain and publish documents related to CIA hacking programs.
“This is a historic act of devastating incompetence, to have created such an arsenal and then stored it all in one place and not secured it,” Assange said during a live-streamed press conference.
Earlier this week, WikiLeaks published thousands of pages of what it says are classified CIA documents that expose “the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.”
The documents allege that the CIA has the tools to hack into smart phones and some televisions, allowing the agency to remotely spy on people through microphones on the devices.
Assange said during the news conference that several technology companies contacted WikiLeaks and asked for more information about the CIA operation. Assange said he would work with technology companies to help them protect against the hacking tools.
“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,” he said.
Tech giants assessing impact
Both Apple and Samsung issued statements Wednesday saying the companies are looking into the allegations made by WikiLeaks. Apple said it already had addressed many of the issues identified in the WikiLeaks documents.
According to the WikiLeaks documents, the CIA identified weaknesses within the software used by Apple, Google, Microsoft and other U.S.-based manufacturers; but, instead of informing the companies of the vulnerabilities, the CIA “hoarded” the exploits, leaving people open to potential hacking.
Concern about the CIA’s alleged hacking tools is starting to grow among foreign diplomats, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said Thursday he always tries to avoid bringing his cell phone into sensitive meetings to avoid being spied on.
“At least, I succeed not to get into a bad situation,” Lavrov said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China “opposes all forms of hacking.”
“We urge the U.S. side to stop listening in, monitoring, stealing secrets and internet hacking against China and other countries. China will resolutely safeguard its own internet security,” he said.
The CIA said Wednesday that WikiLeaks is hurting American security interests and helping the country’s enemies.