Intel Official Convicted Of ‘Digital Pearl Harbor’

The exposure of sensitive material in the cyberintelligence domain was one of several offenses for which Joshua Schulte, a former CIA employee, was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Prosecutors called it a “digital Pearl Harbor.”

The amount of the harm may never be fully revealed, but in 2017, WikiLeaks started publishing stolen CIA documents. For eight months, the website made twenty sets of classified papers public, called Vault 7. These records exposed the clandestine methods the US utilized to breach computer networks occupied by other countries’ governments and terrorist groups. The leaks caused severe damage to national security and led to a thorough investigation to find the culprit.

For six years, Schulte worked as a computer engineer for the intelligence agency, where he created hacking tools and had the highest level of security clearances. He faced multiple counts and was found guilty in 2022, including the unlawful acquisition and dissemination of sensitive national defense secrets.

In addition, a jury convicted him of having and transferring pornographic material concerning children. The judge, Jesse M. Furman, said that Schulte’s behavior was highly damaging and seriously endangered the nation’s security.

Schulte and other expert programmers worked in a covert location secured by armed guards, creating malware that would infect computers belonging to people suspected of being implicated in terrorist acts. An unusual window into the inner workings of a formidable spy agency was revealed by the Vault 7 scandal and the inquiry that followed. It revealed a hostile work atmosphere, animosity between programmers on a personal level, and security holes that an unfaithful employee had taken advantage of.

In 2020, the CIA published an internal assessment that admitted the agency was at fault for Schulte’s activities; the report emphasized the absence of protections and the fact that authorities had not learned from other instances where staff had stolen secrets from different agencies.

The United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, stressed that Schulte would be imprisoned for four decades.

Schulte has continuously maintained his innocence.