Breach, Threat Management, Data Security

Jury spares accused Vault 7 leaker from espionage conviction

A Manhattan federal jury yesterday failed to reach a verdict on any major charges leveled against Joshua Schulte, a former CIA software engineer from Lubbock, Texas, who was accused of stealing the agency's hacking tools and delivering them to WikiLeaks for publication.

Schulte, 31, was convicted on contempt of court and making false statements, but escaped more serious charges of espionage, resulting in a mistrial on eight counts, according to multiple media reports.

U.S. prosecutors have asserted that Schulte is responsible for exfiltrating the files posted in the 2017 Vault 7 leak -- a series of WikiLeaks posts that revealed a wide range of CIA hacking tools, including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized zero-day exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. These tools were used to compromise popular computer and smartphone operating systems, web browsers, and smart devices.

The first of the damaging sequence of leaks was called Year Zero, which consisted of 8,761 documents and files that allegedly came from from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Va., where Schulte had worked.

Reportedly, prosecutors claimed that Schulte leaked the files as an act of revenge after leaving the CIA on poor terms. It is unknown if the U.S. will retry the case. In June 2019, it was reported that the U.S. would not try WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for his part in the release of the Vault 7 hacking tools.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

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