Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, in the Ecuadorian Embassy
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, in the Ecuadorian Embassy

Julian Assange today said that the next round of “Vault 7” leaks would be given to technology firms first.

In a press conference from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has sought asylum for the past four years, he said tech firms had suffered billions of dollars worth of damage from the exploits.

Vault 7 is the name WikiLeaks has given to a collection of documents, purportedly from the CIA, detailing a range of malware and hacking tools that can be used to turn phones and TVs into spying devices. The first tranche of files, called “year zero”, contained 8761 documents describing exploits the agency had developed against many popular consumer electronic devices.

However, WikiLeaks withheld the code for the exploits from the first round of releases to prevent it being misused. By releasing the code to tech firms first, the organisation said it allowing them time to patch the vulnerabilities before they are made public.

"Once the material is effectively disarmed, we will publish additional details," Assange said.

Many technology firms have said they are developing countermeasures for the vulnerabilities as quickly as possible, but many people in the cyber-security community expressed scepticism yesterday that the vulnerabilities were really as sophisticated as they were billed.

Ilia Kolochenko, CEO at High-Tech Bridge, told SC Media UK that many of the CIA vulnerabilities appeared to have been developed off the back of well-known exploits.

“People are talking about the [Weeping Angel] Samsung TV  hacking tool, and that was something that was public several years ago,” Kolochenko said. “That's not something that's going to make you say ‘wow'. It looks like a honeypot strategy – it's deflecting attention from other things.”

Assange also described in more detail the CIA programme called Umbrage. He said it is designed to convince people they had been hacked by the Russians and he claims that an antivirus expert had already recanted a former assertion that an attack had been the work of the Russians, Iranians and Chinese, saying it now appeared to be a CIA job.