Tag Archives: hacking

Spy Agencies Say: Yeah, Russia Did It

Mother Jones

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The intelligence community released its unclassified assessment of Russian hacking activity today. However, anyone who was hoping to learn more about how they collected their information will be sorely disappointed. There’s none of that at all. It’s just a series of assessments, and you either believe them or you don’t.

If you want to read the whole report, we have it here. Oddly, it includes a lengthy annex about the actions of the RT television network, which is a public organ of Russian influence. But RT probably played virtually no role in the 2016 election. The real damage was done via email hacking, and helped along by anonymous twitter trolls who spread ugly anti-Hillary memes. Placing that much weight on RT really makes no sense, and I don’t know why they did it.

In any case, if you don’t want to read the whole thing, the executive summary is below. The intelligence community seems pretty sure that (a) Putin directed the influence campaign, (b) he did it to discredit Hillary Clinton, (c) Russian military intelligence carried out the hacking and relayed information to WikiLeaks, (d) they also hacked Republican sites but didn’t make any of it public, and (e) this all worked really well, so Russia will probably do it again.

Donald Trump, of course, brushed it all off. Minutes after meeting with the intelligence chiefs and hearing the classified version of all this, he released an obviously prewritten statement saying that lots of countries try to hack us; it had absolutely no effect on the election—zilch, Zero, NADA, NOTHING!; and from now on we shouldn’t talk about any of this publicly because we don’t want to give anything away to our enemies.

Seriously. That’s what he said.

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Spy Agencies Say: Yeah, Russia Did It

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Trump Promises New Episode of The Donald Show on Tuesday (or Maybe Wednesday)

Mother Jones

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Happy New Year!

Here is the president-elect of the United States on the last day of the old year, offering his skepticism that Russia was behind the hacks of the DNC and other political organizations during the election:

“I just want them to be sure because it’s a pretty serious charge,” Mr. Trump said of the intelligence agencies….He added: “And I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.”

When asked what he knew that others did not, Mr. Trump demurred, saying only, “You’ll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.”

Here’s what I think Donald Trump knows about hacking: nothing. In movies, the stereotypical hacking nerd can blow through any cyber defense in about 30 seconds of whirlwind typing. So this is what Trump believes: There are lots of 19-year-old kids who can type furiously for about 30 seconds and break into any computer in the world.

I don’t imagine anyone is going to argue with me about that, so let’s move on to Trump’s statement that he knows things “that other people don’t know.” Intriguing! What could that be?

Well, America’s intelligence agencies think Russia is behind the hacking, so Trump doesn’t have any secret knowledge from them. Where else could he have gotten it? There are two obvious possibilities. The first is that Trump’s team did it, and he’s going to confess on Tuesday (or Wednesday). Wouldn’t that be great? The second possibility is that Putin has provided Trump with some kind of plausible misdirection, which he’s going to parrot on Tuesday (or Wednesday).

Actually, of course, there’s a third possibility, and it’s the most likely of all: Trump is just blathering as usual, and he will provide no new information on either Tuesday or Wednesday. He’s just playing the press the way he always does, and we’ll all turn out for the show, just like we did for the birther show in September.

We’ve got at least four years and 20 days of this stuff still ahead of us, folks. Take a deep breath.

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Trump Promises New Episode of The Donald Show on Tuesday (or Maybe Wednesday)

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The Lesson of 2016: Rabid Congressional Investigations Work

Mother Jones

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So what did we learn this year? That America is more susceptible to authoritarian populism than we thought? Not really. Trump’s victory was a fluke, driven by Russian hacking, James Comey, and some bad polls in a few states.

That racism is on the rise? There’s really no evidence of that.

That Democrats need to pay more attention to the white working class? Maybe, but no matter how many times people say otherwise, that really wasn’t a root cause of Hillary Clinton’s defeat.

I could go on, but instead I want to suggest something the 2016 election does teach us: persistent, obsessive investigations pay off. In the 90s, Republicans started investigating Whitewater. Even Ken Starr knew there was nothing to this after a couple of years, but he was put under pressure to keep at it, and eventually he hit some fluke paydirt: Monica Lewinsky. This had nothing to do with Whitewater, but who cares? Scandal is scandal, and it rubbed off enough on Al Gore that Republicans took back the presidency in 2000.

Fast forward to 2012. Hillary Clinton did nothing wrong related to Benghazi. That was clear pretty quickly, but Republicans kept at it. I laughed at them at the time, but they had the last laugh when they once again hit a fluke bit of paydirt: Clinton’s private email server. Clinton didn’t really do anything seriously wrong here either, but it didn’t matter. Republicans kept at it for the next year and a half, and that was enough to convince a lot of people that Clinton was, somehow, corrupt and untrustworthy. That allowed Republicans to retake the presidency.

There was lots of other stuff going on too, but this is now twice that maniacal dedication to an investigation has paid off for Republicans. It’s basically a way of hacking the media, which feels like it has no choice but to cover congressional investigations on a daily basis. It’s news, after all, no matter how you define news.

So that’s a lesson for sure. I’m just not sure what the solution is.

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The Lesson of 2016: Rabid Congressional Investigations Work

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Friday Cat Blogging – 16 December 2016

Mother Jones

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It’s that time of year again—when we beg our readers for tax-deductible donations to support our work.

But we’ve never been too much into doing things the way they’ve always been done. Case in point: Clara and Monika’s new piece that argues for investigating Donald Trump—and supporting MoJo—includes this appraisal of the media:

“Why was it only now, well past the election, that Trump is being pushed to address how we would deal with banks to which he is in debt, or foreign leaders who have a say over his company’s projects? Simply put: Math. Advertising pays fractions of a penny per click, which means that publishers have to pump out buckets of fast, cheap content to make ends meet, and that leaves little opportunity for serious investigation.

….In normal times, right now we’d be in the middle of the kind of routine end-of-year fundraising drive many nonprofits do in December (“We need to raise $250,000 by December 31!”). But these aren’t normal times. So enough with the marketing pitches. None of us needs to be motivated by some arbitrary fundraising goal. Covering Trump, and what he represents, will take everything we’ve got.”

Yep. Here’s a small sample of my headlines (from this week alone!). If you think pieces like this matter, I hope you’ll pitch in a few bucks to help us do it.

NBC NEWS: Putin Personally Directed Anti-Clicking Hacking
No, the Senate Will Not “Heavily Vet” Trump’s Cabinet Nominees
Chart of the Day: Republicans Sure Are Warming Up to Vladimir Putin
Working Class Hero Donald Trump Sure Has Been Good For Wall Street
Russia Ran the Most Epic Ratfucking Operation in History This Year
How Putin Got His Pet Game Show Host Elected President
Here is Rex Tillerson’s Awesome Record at ExxonMobil

And now, as your reward for reading this far (and donating to MoJo), here is Hopper enjoying herself in the garden earlier this week. And don’t forget: today is also Beethoven’s birthday. Let’s all listen to the 7th Symphony.

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Friday Cat Blogging – 16 December 2016

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FBI Now Pretty Sure Russia Is Behind Anti-Clinton Hacking

Mother Jones

The Wall Street Journal reports that the FBI is increasingly convinced that the recent hacks of the DNC and other organizations are being led by Russia:

A fuller picture of the operation has come into focus in the past several weeks. U.S. officials believe that at least two hacking groups with ties to the Russian government, known as Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear, are involved in the escalating data-theft efforts, according to people briefed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe of the cyberattacks.

Following successful breaches, the stolen data are apparently transferred to three different websites for publication, these people say. The websites—WikiLeaks, DCLeaks.com and a blog run by Guccifer 2.0—have posted batches of stolen data at least 42 times from April to last week.

WikiLeaks has published U.S. secrets for years but has recently taken an overtly adversarial tone toward Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Cybersecurity experts believe that DCLeaks.com and Guccifer 2.0 often work together and have direct ties to Russian hackers.

Most of these leaks have been designed to hurt Hillary Clinton, who Vladimir Putin apparently hates. Meanwhile, Trump advisor Carter Page has left the Trump campaign over accusations that he’s a little too chummy with the folks in Russia responsible for all this hacking. Page says the whole thing is ridiculous, but apparently his erstwhile friends in Trumpland are throwing him under the bus anyway:

The Trump campaign has been distancing itself from Page. Although Page was one of Trump’s originally announced foreign policy advisers, campaign manager KellyAnne Conway told CNN on Sunday that Page is not really involved at with the campaign at this point.

I have not spoken with him at all, in fact, meaning he’s not part of our national security or foreign policy briefings that we do now at all, certainly not since I have become campaign manager,” she said….Other Trump campaign sources told me that Page was never really part of Trump’s inner circle….Page has never met with Trump one on one and hasn’t been deeply involved in Trump foreign policy speeches or events, they said.

So…he was just some guy whose name they used so they’d look like they had some advisors. Apparently they’d rather publicly fess up to lying about their campaign announcements than take a chance that Page might become a liability. What nice folks.

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FBI Now Pretty Sure Russia Is Behind Anti-Clinton Hacking

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