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Attacks/Breaches

6/19/2018
12:15 PM
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Former CIA Engineer Charged with Theft and Transmission of Classified Info

Suspect had reportedly been named in Vault 7 leak to WikiLeaks.

Ex-CIA software engineer Joshua Adam Schulte has been charged with stealing and disclosing classified information from the agency. The charges came in a 13-count federal indictment released today.

Schulte reportedly had been named as a suspect who had allegedly handed over to WikiLeaks a massive trove of the CIA's cyber espionage tools that the activist group then published online. He has been imprisoned in Manhattan since Aug. 27, 2017, on unrelated child pornography charges.

The epic breach came to light in March 2017, when WikiLeaks began publishing more than 8,700 confidential CIA documents under the title "Vault 7." Among the leaked documents were various zero-day vulnerabilities, as well as exploits against network routers, smart TVs, and connected vehicles.

While the US Department of Justice indictment doesn't name WikiLeaks or the so-called Vault 7 tools, it appears to be referring to them: "On March 7, 2017, Organization-1 released on the Internet classified national defense material belonging to the CIA (the "Classified Information"). In 2016, Schulte, who was then employed by the CIA, stole the Classified Information from a computer network at the CIA and later transmitted it to Organization-1."  

Schulte, 29, also tampered with user privileges and access to a CIA computer, according to the indictment, acquiring unauthorized access for himself, locking out other users, and deleting any evidence of his activity in the system.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Schulte worked in the CIA's National Clandestine Service (NCS) undercover arm as a directorate of science and technology intelligence officer and created software to "support clandestine operations." He also served as a systems engineer with the NSA prior to his stint at the CIA.

The 13 charges against Schulte include illegal gathering of national defense information, illegal transmission of lawfully possessed national defense information, illegal transmission of unlawfully possessed national defense information, unauthorized access to a computer to obtain classified information, theft of government property, unauthorized access of a computer, and obstruction of justice.

"Leaks of classified information pose a danger to the security of all Americans," Assistant Attorney General John Demers said in a statement. "It adds insult to injury when, as alleged here, the leaks come from former government officials in whom Americans placed their sacred trust."

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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