Ex-CIA engineer Joshua Schulte convicted over massive ‘Vault 7’ leak in 2017

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Wednesday saw Joshua Schulte, ex-Central Intelligence Agency Engineer, found guilty by a New York jury of all nine charges. @InnerCityPressThe single biggest leakage in agency history resulted in a loss of ). Dubbed Vault 7, the files and information shared by WikiLeaks in 2017 exposed a trove of tactics and exploits the CIA used to hack its targets’ Computers, Android phones and iPhonesAnd even more Samsung smart TVs.

Tammy Thorp, spokesperson for the CIA, stated in a statement to The Verge, “Today’s verdict affirms that maintaining the security of our nation’s cyber capabilities is of the utmost importance. It’s critical to the security of the American people, and it’s critical to our advantage against adversaries abroad. As set forth in the trial, unauthorized disclosures not only jeopardize US personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm.”

Schulte, the subject a long profile in the New Yorker that described him as “abrasive” and then went into far worse details, was arrested in 2018, initially charged with possession of child pornography, and has been in jail ever since.

The article details Operations Support Branch (OSB), where Schulte worked and reportedly built hacking tools by quickly turning prototypes into actual exploits that could monitor or steal information from the targeted person’s devices. According to the article, investigators found evidence against Schulte because of his own security breaches. Schulte stored passwords on his phone which could have been used to access his encrypted storage.

It even goes into the trouble investigators had obtaining the Vault 7 documents — they remained classified despite being leaked and publicly available on the internet, leading FBI officials to download the cache over Wi-Fi at a Starbucks to a freshly purchased laptop that immediately became officially classified, stored in a supervisor’s office, and only accessible with Top Secret clearance.

Further charges against Schulte were later filed, claiming that he had stolen classified national defense information and sent it to WikiLeaks. In 2020, the government’s first attempt at prosecuting Schulte ended in a mistrial as a jury convicted him on contempt of court charges as well as lying to FBI investigators but couldn’t agree on the rest.

Schulte decided to represent himself in the second trial which just ended. He was convicted of stealing, transmitting, and gathering classified information, as well as obstruction of justice for lying about it to investigators. In the meantime, he has not been sentenced for the remaining charges against him regarding possession and transportation of child pornography.

The Associated Press reports prosecutors argued that after feeling ignored and disrespected over his complaints about the work environment, Schulte took revenge on the CIA by stealing and leaking the same exploits he’d been a part of creating. In his defense, Schulte argued unsuccessfully that he was being used as a scapegoat for the government’s failure to protect dangerous hacking tools. As evidenced by the following: The Washington Post reported in 2020 that an internal investigation by the CIA’s WikiLeaks Task Force found security in the unit was “woefully lax,” with users sharing admin-level passwords and a lack of controls over access to historical data or the use of removable USB thumb drives, and this was years after the Snowden leaks. Schulte claimed there was no reasonable motive established and that hundreds of people had access to the information who could’ve been behind the leaks.

In A statement was released following the verdict, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said, “When Schulte began to harbor resentment toward the CIA, he covertly collected those tools and provided them to WikiLeaks, making some of our most critical intelligence tools known to the public – and therefore, our adversaries.” His statement ended by saying, “Schulte has been convicted for one of the most brazen and damaging acts of espionage in American history.”



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