The White House says US President Donald Trump believes that the CIA’s systems are outdated, after WikiLeaks released thousands of documents that reveal the agency’s hacking and spying secrets. “He believes that the systems at the CIA are outdated and need to be updated,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange denounced the CIA over its “devastating incompetence” for failing to protect its hacking secrets. “This is a historic act of devastating incompetence, to have created such an arsenal and then stored it all in one place,” Assange said during an online press conference from the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he took refuge in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden. “It is impossible to keep effective control of cyber weapons… If you build them, eventually you will lose them,” he added.
WikiLeaks offers CIA hacking tools to tech companies
Assange also said the whistleblower website will give tech companies details of the CIA hacking tools so that they can patch security holes. “Considering what we think is the best way to proceed and hearing these calls from some of the manufacturers, we have decided to work with them to give them some exclusive access to the additional technical details that we have so that the fixes can be developed and pushed out, so people can be secure,” he stated.
He said that WikiLeaks has a lot more information about the CIA hacking operations, but added that the whistleblower website will hold off on publishing the information until it will discuss ways of fixing the holes with tech manufacturers.
The CIA, meanwhile, issued a statement on Wednesday, publicly accusing WikiLeaks of “jeopardizing” the US national security and helping adversaries inflict harm on the United States over the leaks. “The American public should be deeply troubled by any WikiLeaks disclosure designed to damage the Intelligence Community’s ability to protect America against terrorists and other adversaries,” the statement said.
“Such disclosures not only jeopardize US personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm,” it added.
‘US intelligence can turn a TV into listening device’
On Tuesday, WikiLeaks published nearly 9,000 documents it said were part of a huge trove leaked from the CIA. The explosive documents exposed by WikiLeaks showed that hackers of the US intelligence apparatus can turn a TV into a listening device, bypass popular encryption apps, and possibly control one’s car.
They also revealed that the agency has routinely used techniques that enable its hackers to disguise themselves as hacking groups based in Russia and other countries. However, the CIA rejected the notion that it spies on the American people, and insisted the agency’s mission is to “aggressively collect foreign intelligence overseas to protect America from terrorists, hostile nation states and other adversaries.”
US intelligence agencies have launched a criminal investigation into the publication of the secret files, with intelligence and law enforcement officials already pointing the finger at CIA contractors.