Content, Breach

Former CIA Programmer Convicted for Vault 7 Leak

skull of death on smartphone screen. Hacked mobile phone on laptop computer

Former CIA programmer Joshua Adam Schulte has been found guilty on nine federal charges relating to the agency's Vault 7 leak. He has been convicted for "one of the most brazen and damaging acts of espionage in American history," the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a prepared statement.

U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman announced the verdict on July 13, 2022. Schulte has not yet been sentenced for the charges.

A Closer Look at Schulte's Trial

Prosecutors alleged Schulte orchestrated the Vault 7 leak because he believed the CIA ignored his complaints about the work environment, The Associated Press reported. At this point, Schulte allegedly wanted "to burn" the agency to the ground.

As a CIA programmer, Schulte had access to some of the most valuable intelligence-gathering cyber tools used to combat terrorist organizations around the globe, the DOJ said. When Schulte began to resent the CIA, he collected those tools, provided them to Wikileaks and made them public.

In addition, Schulte was aware that his actions could threaten the United States if the CIA's intelligence-gathering cyber tools were made public, the DOJ noted. Once Schulte released the tools, he rendered them "essentially useless."

Schulte originally was put on trial in 2020, but a mistrial was declared after jurors were deadlocked on various counts, the AP stated. He has been held in jail since 2018.

What Is the Vault 7 Leak?

WikiLeaks began a series of leaks on the CIA, dubbed "Vault 7," on March 7, 2017. The initial release, titled "Year Zero," contained 8,761 documents and files from a network inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia.

The Vault 7 leak revealed that the CIA has created malware that targets iPhones, Android devices and smart TVs and other consumer devices, according to WikiLeaks. It also showed that the CIA "hoarded" zero-day vulnerabilities.

To date, WikiLeaks has not named the sources of the Vault 7 leak. However, it has made 70,875 redactions.

Dan Kobialka

Dan Kobialka is senior contributing editor, MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E. He covers IT security, IT service provider business strategies and partner programs. Dan holds a M.A. in Print and Multimedia Journalism from Emerson College and a B.A. in English from Bridgewater State University. In his free time, Dan enjoys jogging, traveling, playing sports, touring breweries and watching football.