Friday, January 6, 2017

The Russians Did It ? (part 2)

Russians and many other nations are always trying to hack computers in our nation. 

That was just as true eight years ago, or sixteen years ago.

WikiLeaks has been publishing "secret" documents for a decade.

So why, suddenly, did Russian hacking become so important, and WikiLeaks not to be believed when it said DNC emails they published were not from Russia?

Is it not possible that quite a few hackers, including Russians, were able to get DNC emails?

And we knowHillary Clinton's server certainly had little protection.

If the Soviet Union had "dirt" that would make Hillary look bad, they would have kept it secret until after she won the election, when it would be valuable for blackmail.

Remember that until about 9pm election night, virtually everyone thought Clinton would win by quite a few percentage points ... helped by the fact that Democrats had already spent two months claiming Trump was cozy with the Russians, and too friendly with Putin.

The reason is the Dumbocrats want to blame Russia for Trump barely winning an election against their failed, corrupt politician, with no charisma ... and so crazy that she had a mental breakdown election night, and couldn't be seen in public, or  speak to loyal supporters after she lost. 

I don't believe Dumbocrats. 
I believe WikiLeaks' Julian Assange.

Sorry for a long delay between posts here due to a break for the holidays, a death in the family, time needed to write my January February 2017 economic newsletter, where I suddenly decided to change the subject of the feature article on December 20, and my cat ate my papers too.

Democrats remain in mourning -- some are downright hostile (more so than usual, anyway) -- and Republicans are grossly over-optimistic that US manufacturing industry will return to the 1965 era with an orgy of infrastructure-building.

Most of the old factories are standing in ruins or have been scraped off the landscape.

New factories would require a mountain of private capital investment that won't happen with corporations already leveraged up to their eyeballs after years of stock buybacks.

Even if new industrial capacity is built, more work will be performed by robots than by union members like the the United Auto Workers with their $35-an-hour assembly line wage.

The future of manufacturing OUTPUT in America is modest,  unless Trump can halt the phony war on fossil fuels and CO2.

And the future of manufacturing EMPLOYMENT is a continuation of the multi-decade downtrend.

That's enough about economics.

I want to get back to the election circus, that looks like it is going to continue for the next four years.

Does Russia try to hack US computers?
Yes, of course, and vice versa.

Did WikiLeaks get hacked DNC info from Russians?
No, WikiLeaks says no, and there is no evidence they are lying.

Do I trust WikiLeaks more than the Obama Administration?
Yes, of course I do. WikiLeaks has no history of lying, or tampering with documents they publish.  

President-elect Donald Trump is right to question President Obama's finger pointing at the Russians, and claim they targeted Secretary Hillary Clinton to assure a Trump presidency.

There are only two official US statements addressing the facts.

(1) The October 7, 2016 Joint Statement from the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security 

( "Joint Statement" ).

(2) The December 29, 2016 Joint Analysis Report of the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, entitled, "GRIZZLY STEPPE – Russian Malicious Cyber Activity" ( the "JAR" ).

Both statements are vague -- they lead to more questions than answers.

The Joint Statement states that the hacks  

“. . . are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. ...  We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

The Joint Statement does not support the conclusion that the Russians were trying to help Trump and hurt Hillary — as opposed to just randomly rummaging through whatever data they can access.

Half of the JAR is just a list of suggested cyber security measures.

The JAR is the first official government statement attributing cyber activity "to Russian government and civilian intelligent agencies."

The JAR said the summer of 2015 had what looks like a Russian spear-phishing campaign targeting over 1,000 recipients, including U.S. government employees.

The JAR does not identify the "Political Party" hit to be the DNC.

The JAR says:  "Actors likely associated with [Russia] are continuing to engage in spear-phishing campaigns, including one launched as recently as November 2016, just days after the U.S. election."

The JAR acknowledges the lengthy history of state-sponsored  attacks against government organizations, critical infrastructure entities, think tanks, universities, political organizations, and corporations.

The JAR does not state who leaked the information; how the information was leaked; or any other details.

The JAR does not address if the attacks upon the "U.S. Political Party" were perpetrated by the same attackers who somehow obtained the emails of Clinton campaign head John Podesta.

The JAR makes no specific mention of the Podesta hacks.

The JAR provides no evidence of any plot, effort or other scheme to steal the election from Hillary Clinton and favor Donald Trump.

Cybersecurity experts are notorious for disagreeing about attribution conclusions gleaned from digital forensic remnants, residue, fragments and artifacts.

The only logical conclusion is that some email accounts at the DNC appear to have been broken into by someone, and perhaps they speak Russian.

Famed data security pioneer John McAfee, does not believe that the Russians were behind the hacks on the DNC, John Podesta’s emails and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

McAfee notes that the JAR contains an appendix of hundreds of IP addresses that were supposedly “used by Russian civilian and military intelligence services,” but notes that,

"While some of those IP addresses are from Russia, the majority are from all over the world, which means that the hackers constantly faked their location . . . if it looks like the Russians did it, then I can guarantee you it was not the Russians . . . [The JAR] is a fallacy . . . hackers can fake their location, their language, and any markers that could lead back to them. Any hacker who had the skills to hack into the DNC would also be able to hide their tracks . . ."

"If I was the Chinese and I wanted to make it look like the Russians did it, I would use Russian language within the code, I would use Russian techniques of breaking into the organization . . . in the end, there simply is no way to assign a source for any attack.”

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange has insisted that the Russian government is not the source of the Podesta and DNC e-mails.

Someone else associated with WikiLeaks said the source was a leak from a disgruntled DNC or other Democratic operative authorized to see the information, not a hack.

Our "intelligence" agencies once said:

(1) Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction, and

(2) The Benghazi consulate attack was because of a YouTube video.

Implying the Russians somehow hijacked the election from Hillary Clinton to prop up Donald Trump is not based on evidence. 

President-elect Donald Trump is right to question government intelligence reports regarding Russian hacking.

Every president should be skeptical of "intelligence" before making any major foreign policy decision that could escalate military tensions.