WikiLeaks wants to give Apple, Google and Samsung ‘exclusive access' to details of the CIA's hacking tools.
It comes after the organisation published 8,761 documents dubbed ‘Year Zero', what it said was the first in a part of leaks on the agency that Wikileaks has dubbed ‘Vault 7'. The organisation claims to have more than 700,000 secret CIA documents that it is sifting through.
The bold claims suggest that the CIA used ‘weaponised exploits' against every major operating system - Android, Apple's iOS and MacOs operating systems, Linux, Windows and "even Samsung TVs, which are turned into cover microphones".
It suggested that the CIA knew of vulnerabilities in operating systems but did not alert tech manufacturers, so that it could continue to exploit them to gain access to devices. Equally, though, Wikileaks has been accused of over-playing the potency of the exploits described by the documents.
Now, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has said that the whistleblowing organisation wants to work with these companies before revealing further details from the trove of documents to the general public. This, he claims, should help ensure that the vulnerabilities have been looked at and fixed by the companies in question.
"We have quite a lot of exploits…. That we want to disarm before we think about publishing it," he said in a press conference streamed on Periscope.
"We're going to work with some of these manufacturers to try and get these antidotes out there," he added.
On Wednesday, Apple said it had already fixed many of the vulnerabilities exploited by the CIA.
"While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS, we will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities," an Apple spokesperson told the BBC, before urging customers to download the latest iOS to ensure they have the most recent security update.
Microsoft, meanwhile, said that it was urgently looking into the matter on Wednesday, but told the BBC today that it had not yet been contacted by Assange.
"Our preferred method for anyone with knowledge of security issues, including the CIA or Wikileaks, is to submit details to us at [email protected] so we can review information and take any necessary steps to protect customers," a spokesperson said.
Of the leaks, perhaps the most shocking was that the CIA was working with the UK's MI5 to target Samsung smart TVs using a surveillance technique dubbed ‘Weeping Angel'. The tool purportedly enables government agencies to place Samsung TVs into 'fake-off mode', which allows conversations to be recorded, even when the television appears to be switched off.
The tool, though, requires physical access to the television to set it up. Samsung said it was looking into the matter.
In response to the revelations, CIA spokeswoman, Heather Fritz Horniak told the BBC: "As we've said previously, Julian Assange is not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity.
"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," she said.
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