Security Experts:

Ex-CIA Employee Suspected in WikiLeaks 'Vault7' Leak

A former employee of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is believed to have provided WikiLeaks the files made public by the whistleblower organization as part of its ‘Vault 7’ leak, which focuses on hacking tools used by the CIA.

According to The New York Times and The Washington Post, the suspect is 29-year-old software engineer Joshua Adam Schulte. The man’s LinkedIn profile shows that he worked for the NSA for five months in 2010 as a systems engineer, and then joined the CIA as a software engineer. He left the CIA in November 2016, when he moved to New York City and started working as a senior software engineer for Bloomberg.

While authorities reportedly started suspecting Schulte of providing files to WikiLeaks roughly one week after the first round of Vault 7 documents were released in March 2017, he still has not been charged in connection to the leaks. Instead, he has been jailed for possessing child pornography.

Investigators discovered the illegal materials after conducting a search of his apartment and devices based on a warrant that named Schulte a suspect in the distribution of national defense information.

The materials had been hosted on a file sharing server set up by the suspect. However, he has pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming that up to 100 people had access to that server. Prosecutors, on the other hand, cited conversations between Schulte and others allegedly showing that he had been aware of the presence of child pornography on the system.

Schulte was charged on three counts of receipt, possession and transportation of child pornography in August 2017. He was arrested and set free in September, but he was prohibited from leaving New York City and accessing computers. He has been in jail since December, when authorities claimed he had violated these rules.

The investigation continues and prosecutors expect to file a new indictment related to the Vault 7 leaks sometime in the next 45 days.

While at the CIA, Schulte reportedly helped develop the tools used by the agency in its cyber operations. Researchers have linked the Vault 7 tools to a cyber espionage group tracked as Longhorn and The Lamberts.

When it started publishing the Vault 7 files, WikiLeaks said the documents had been circulating among former U.S. government hackers and contractors.

The Washington Post obtained a statement from Schulte in which he claimed that the FBI “made the snap judgement” that he was guilty of the leaks due to the fact that he had left the CIA on poor terms just months before the Vault 7 leak started.

Related: NSA Contractor Charged With Leaking Russia Hacking Report

Related: NSA Contractor Pleads Guilty in Embarrassing Leak Case

view counter
Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.