While the entire country is consumed by the hysteria about Russian hackers — with the thought that what they did to us is unique and reprehensible and absolutely terrible beyond words — I find it hypocritical that no one is talking about the US government’s own hackers. Hackers that are busy all across the globe doing the bidding of the CIA, NSA and US Cyber Command, et al.
It’s a sure bet that the US government employs way more and better hackers than any other government in the world – including Russia.
For every Russian hack that’s been exposed, my guess is that US government hackers have done the equivalent to them, plus 10 more. Good ol’ American ingenuity at work.
As a nation-state we’ve been lucky, because outside the Stuxnet worm fiasco and Snowden’s leaks, the US hackers have operated mostly under the radar. But it’s a certainty that we’ve been busy. Very busy.
How about the Mossack Fonseca scandal where it was disclosed that Putin and his friends were using the Panamanian law firm to hide and launder their money? Given the fairly intense animosity between Obama and Putin, and the immense and diverse US hacking capabilities, it’s easy to imagine the US being behind the Panama leak – done just as a means to screw Putin.
In that context, Putin’s alleged response hacking the DNC could be viewed as a simple retaliation in kind. Where Putin was trying to even the score with the US by embarrassing the democrats and Hillary, not acting as an aggressor.
Further, looking closely at the various news reports of the DNC hacking, the attribution of these hacks to the Russians are problematic at best. Most of the “proofs” of Russian hacking so far exposed remain quite sketchy.
A good example of this is where in one of the files leaked by Guccifer 2.0, the file metadata showed it had been modified in the Russian language by someone named “Felix Edmundovich,” a reference to Felix Dzerzhinsky, father of the Soviet secret police.
With that in mind, it should be noted that the US government intelligence community sources named in the various and sundry newspaper accounts all vigorously assert the “Russian” hackers are extremely sophisticated, nation-state actors.
But just stop and think for a moment. Would a sophisticated nation-state hacker use a computer that ID’d him as working for the state secret police? Would US hackers use computers that ID’d them as J. Edgar Hoover? Or John O. Brennan? That sort of amateurish, stupid mistake is more likely to be made by a script kiddie.
Or even more likely, it’s a deliberate attempt to obfuscate the real author and implicate the Russians. A “red herring.”
As to the other proofs offered, such as the perpetrators used “known Russian hacking techniques,” well that’s no proof at all. It’d be easy for other actors to emulate known Russian techniques.
There has been no concrete or conclusive evidence offered as yet. Everything disclosed thus far is at best, circumstantial.
Absent iron-clad, conclusive evidence, the calls for US reprisals against Russia are an ill-advised, knee-jerk reaction.
Moreover, nation-state hacking isn’t something to be taken lightly.
The perils of a cyber war with Russia or anyone are potentially almost as disastrous and life-changing as that of nuclear war. Responses could range from something like turning off the country’s internet for a period of time, to hacking the banks and bricking their computer systems, to hacking manufacturing companies and shutting down production, or perhaps shutting down the phone or TV systems.
How about if they hacked the FAA’s air traffic control system and shut it down? Can you imagine the pandemonium if they wiped the account data of all US banks? Or took the US stock market off-line for a few months? Or maybe if Ford, GM and Chrysler were all shut down for months?
How about a worst case scenario: the US has boasted it can shut down the Russian electric power grid at a moment’s notice, and it’s a given they can do the same to us. The undisclosed potentials of the different nations probably go much, much farther than simply shutting down the grid. They likely have the capabilities to do permanent, lasting damage that could take years to repair.
Extrapolating, if this cyber war is left to escalate unchecked, I can see us all waking up one morning finding we’ve returned to an agrarian, pre-industrial society. That is, where we wake up in a world without electricity or computers or most all the modern conveniences we’ve become accustomed to. Welcome to the Steam Age v 2.0. Hope you’ve got a wood stove and a horse and cows and a big truck garden.
I can hear the Luddites cheering as I’m typing this.
Me, I like my computer and having the internet. I like being able to turn the heat on and get warm. I like having a refrigerator and my stove and washer and dryer and having a car to drive. I like having a job.
Every bit of this is at risk. We’re just a few key strokes away from the apocalypse. And with Trump at the helm, the situation’s even more precarious.
In his first national security briefing, it’s reported that Donald Trump asked three times, that, “if we have all these nukes, why is it we can’t use them?” The answer, of course, is obvious. We’d all probably die. The whole world.
It’s true, cyber war is different. Sure, unlike the use of nukes, we’d mostly all still be alive after a cyber attack where the power grid was taken out, at least at the onset.
But if it lasted more than a few weeks, abruptly turning the clock back to the 1800’s would just as surely kill off major parts of our population – by starvation at the very least.
All this talk of reprisals is extremely foolish.
We need to hit pause for a few moments and think seriously about the possible consequences of our actions. We need to ratchet back the rhetoric on Russian hacking.
Advocating the use of cyber warfare is no less irresponsible than advocating the use of nuclear weapons. Escalation is just too easy.
If the Russians or someone did undermine the election to get Trump unfairly elected, what we need to look at instead is invalidating the election and making Clinton President. Or at least holding a new election.
The Russians are an extraneous distraction. The real problem is Trump. That’s the direction we need to go. Forget reprisals against the Russians.
Let’s work to throw Trump out and start over. Now!