Pressure Mounts to Punish Russia For Hacking Without Evidence And Before Investigations Are Concluded

from the evidence-is-for-sissies dept

While it’s certainly possible Russia has been busy using hackers to meddle in (or at least stoke the idiot pyres burning beneath) the U.S. elections, we’ve noted how actual evidence of this is hard to come by. At the moment, most of this evidence consists of either comments by anonymous government officials, or murky proclamations from security firms that have everything to gain financially from stoking cybersecurity tensions. Of course, transparent evidence is hard to come by when talking about hackers capable of false flag operations while obfuscating their footprints completely.

Granted that hasn’t stopped people from demanding a cyber or real world attack on Russia, both idiotic ideas for what should be obvious reasons. But with no hard evidence forthcoming, those looking for perceived justice are apparently getting a little punchy. The Washington Post notes that the government continues to conduct an investigation into the DNC hacks, but the whole “obtaining actual evidence before doing anything stupid” thing is clearly frustrating the 1980’s action movie sect of the intelligence community:

“The White House?s and some Cabinet officials? insistence on awaiting the probe?s results has frustrated some officials at the FBI, the Justice Department and within the intelligence community, who favor holding Moscow accountable. The White House?s continued requests for more evidence, said one official, is ?to delay ? purposely delay? a public attribution.”

Again, it’s not like you’re going to find a goddamned memo linking Russia to the DNC hacks, and any hacker worth his or her salt isn’t going to leave evidence of the hack or their ties to a nation state. There’s also the ongoing reality that the leading country when it comes to nation state hacking has generally been the United States, making any vocal moral repudiation kind of laughable. Still, that doesn’t seem to be stopping folks like Senator Ben Sasse, who insists that we should just skip the whole actual evidence thing and proceed to lambasting Russia for doing what the United States has done for decades:

“Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a member of the Homeland Security committee, said President Obama should publicly name Russia and do so before the November election. A failure to do so will only encourage further cyber intrusions and meddling in the U.S. election, he said.

?If the Obama administration has a reason for not clearly attributing these hacks to Russia, it contradicts their own cyber strategy,? Sasse said. ?If they?re silent because it would invite response, that suggests that we?re operating from a position of weakness ? in other words, we know that we need to aggressively deter cyberattacks, but we are too vulnerable to do it. Neither scenario is reassuring.”

But again, what good is publicly shaming Russia for hacking when you’ve spent decades doing the same thing — or worse? The only net outcome is you wind up looking like a giant, blithering hypocrite to the global community. The entire article stumbles on like this, quoting various officials on and off the record demanding we do everything from impose sanctions to start leaking Putin’s dirty laundry:

“The National Security Agency, for instance, could disrupt a Russian computer system in a way that leaves no doubt who did it and that warns the Russians ?to knock it off,? one former intelligence official said. Or the CIA could leak documents that are embarrassing in some way to Russian President Vladi?mir Putin.”

Attack! Attack! Who needs evidence? Who needs the moral high ground? Generally, the press-driven public dialogue on cybersecurity and intelligence is so far from what’s actually happening in the wild (as intelligence whistleblowers illustrate every few years) that one really should treat press reports on the subject as creative fiction. Combine that with the way nationalism leads to hypocrisy and the fact that most of these “former intelligence officials” don’t even know what a gigabyte is, and you’ve got a recipe for keystone-cops-esque high comedy.

Again, none of this is to suggest that Russia isn’t hacking the United States. But to ignore that all nation states are hacking each other all the time is myopic, and suggesting the DNC attack constitutes some rare breach of international ethics is hysterically naive given what we know about the States’ own hacking attacks. The real danger here remains the threat of false flag hacking attacks and misinformation campaigns designed to prompt countries to dramatic action without substantive proof. The smarter path is to focus this energy on securing, upgrading and patching government systems to protect against intrusion, even though that’s certainly a lot less fun than starting a new world war just because you think hard evidence is for sissies.

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Comments on “Pressure Mounts to Punish Russia For Hacking Without Evidence And Before Investigations Are Concluded”

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51 Comments
Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Creative justification

The White House blamed the Sony attack on North Korea, but I don’t remember them ever having presented any evidence, just what was in their imaginations (or political pamphlets). Just as Iraq was invaded for non-existent WMD’s, the government will do anything to feed the Military/Industrial/Espionage Complex while continuing to terrorize the populace for possible terrorist attacks they didn’t think up. Terrorism they think up is OK, when anyone else tries it they scream “Terrorist, and think of the children”.

I fully expect they will do something inane, and guess who is gonna pay for it, both literally and figuratively? Their actions without justification are no longer surprising to me. Objectionable, disgusting, and done for political rather than appropriate reasons, yes, surprising, no.

Anonymous Coward says:

The real question is why exactly we consider this to be of national importance? I mean sure, it would be nice if American organizations didn’t get hacked, but really why are congress and the president getting involved at this stage? If we do find out it’s a state sponsored attack, then we should all be sighing in relief that they wasted their time hacking the DNC, rather than something of actual importance.

Because this isn’t an issue of national security. The DNC is not part of the government. It is not in charge of any critical infrastructure. It is not privy to classified information. It does not provide any products or services critical to the US, or anyone in it. It could be (metaphorically) punched repeatedly in the face by Putin and Stalin’s love child, and there’s no reason that the US government should particularly care.

CrushU (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The DNC is not part of the government. It is not in charge of any critical infrastructure. It is not privy to classified information. It does not provide any products or services critical to the US, or anyone in it.

Replace all those ‘is’ and ‘does’ with ‘should’…

I really hope that ‘is’ and ‘does’ apply to this case, but being pessimistic when it comes to politics, I’m pretty sure ‘should’ is the correct verb. ๐Ÿ™

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It does not provide any products or services critical to the US, or anyone in it.

The DNC is a political party that provides some of the people (presidents, senators, representatives, even justices) that set policy for our nation. How could that be anything but critical to the United States?

Oh, wait, I get you: RNC needs to provide the critical people, right? Just arguing for a one-party system, right?

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: It's just a little transparency.

If all they have done is stolen the dirty laundry and put it on parade, then nothing of harm was actually done. This is a classic case “if you have nothing to hide, then you have no reason to worry”. While an RNC hack might be fun, it’s hard to imagine what they might dredge up that’s any worse than the party platform.

They already have Cruz and Palin.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: It's just a little transparency.

“it’s hard to imagine what they might dredge up that’s any worse than the party platform.”

I think it is easy to imagine, and I’m certain there are heaps of dirty laundry in every politicians closet – that is the nature of politics, it’s dirty, corrupt and apparently impossible to clean up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It may or may not be a matter of national security, but it IS a matter of national importance.

It matters because they can use the information gained to influence our elections. If they just hack one side and release their embarrassing stuff, that makes that side look bad. And then that helps the candidate they like to get elected. And I don’t think it’s in our interests for us to elect whichever candidate Putin wants.

Even if you don’t buy that argument, the hacks are clearly a violation of US law. It’s perfectly appropriate for the government to get involved to protect the victims of the crime. As far as why Congress is getting involved… Congress holds hearings when baseball players are accused of using steroids, so why be surprised when they hold hearings about this? It’s not like there’s a particularly high bar.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The DNC is one of only two sources for products that affects the daily life of almost everyone on the planet!

Using regulatory capture and collusion with another major supplier they have erected huge barriers to entry limiting the market to only two producers while making it appear that other producers have market access.

Matthew A. Sawtell (profile) says:

Re: Correction...

It has been interesting to watch the reaction out of the DNC over the last few months, and the level of ‘reporting’ afterwards – with progressives and other folks coming to realization that the folks in Russia are not exactly ‘Soviet Lite’.

Nope, the sandbox is open to a good deal more players and the rules are not as they were before.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Correction...

Funny how just two years ago the Republican Party was one big Putin fan club. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, GOP chairman Mike Rogers, Sarah Palin, Rudolph Giuliani, Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan were all extolling his virtues.

But if rewriting history makes you feel better about Putin fanboy Donald Trump and his Russian connections, enjoy.

nerd bert (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Correction...

Funny how not too long ago Obama and his minions were calling Russia a minor nuisance and regional power, destined to the dustheap of history.

Now that they’re goring the Democratic Party, they’re the #1 threat in the world.

Funny how all this works, eh?

Sure, the GOP is enjoying the Democrats squirming and being forced to eat humble pie in public. But if there weren’t pie makings in the leaks, the Democrats wouldn’t be in this sort of a dilemma, would they? It’s a 100-1 that there aren’t “47%” worthy comments made by the GNC, but they’re luddites haven’t gone as heavily into easily hackable systems like the DNC so we’re less likely to see them.

Oh yes, and particularly enjoyed this one where the DCCC admitted that Obama policies actually did help the creation of ISIS. Nothing like helping along folks who believe in cutting off your head with policies designed to solve at-home political problems rather than real security problems.

nerd bert (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Correction...

You’re preaching to the choir, buddy. But we have one candidate who actively did that when given any chance and one who alleges that he doesn’t. Not that I don’t think Trump will get hooked on the power drug, but at least he doesn’t have a proven track record of blundering off into needless conflicts cough Libya cough.

TreasonHunter says:

The GREAT AMERICAN DNC Vaporware fork()

The democratic party has transitioned into the four winds.
The party they claim was, is only on tv and they have no numbers. For the rest, just show them the truth, and the democratic party is toast. Having been deceived for the past 15 years, seeing this corruption and treason instead! I Was A Democrat, now I am a “no party.” The democratic party’s name is MUD, and I wouldn’t pee on it to make it stay wet another day. The low life thugs rip everyone on their lists off and blame everyone else. Then when they get caught they have the insolence to demand to provide the solution.

They need to be yanked out of the LOOP permanent. Oath breaking Treason is what they are. I was in the party cause I LOVE other people and want to help em, want them to think on their own, have a business, not work for others, have security, have FIREARMS, have cannabis, have nutrition, have education, have the golden life we should be having but the foreign agents have stolen through holding high offices and banks and other key choke points!

.gov needs a flush and no COG to fill the void. It needs responsible people to fill the void. But service to this country comes at a fucking SACRIFICE, you don’t get your time back. And if something bad happens, nobody comes and fixes it you EXIT planet Earth. That’s bad enough but basically the people in charge have exploited our digital data and given it out to the terrorists, without warning you, and while trying to disarm you and take your second amendment with bullshit like cannabis laws which is another BAD political law causing treasonous disaster for Americans over a stupid fucking plant. Now You all been drafted in this war.

Since you won’t do a GENERAL STRIKE….

JURY NULLIFICATION of everything MUST BE YOUR first message (or hint) to these mother fuckers.

As a GUIDE I would say, “If you haven’t hurt someone else, you ain’t broke no law.” That won’t cover shit like stealing nuke secrets… just sayin for your basic court packed with dui’s and drug people they’re all going home. Unless they were fighting. see..

The Sheriff is also an important pick. Make sure he’s pro constitution, pro second amendment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The GREAT AMERICAN DNC Vaporware fork()

As a GUIDE I would say, “If you haven’t hurt someone else, you ain’t broke no law.” That won’t cover shit like stealing nuke secrets… just sayin for your basic court packed with dui’s and drug people they’re all going home.

So that means I can shoot at people so long as I don’t actually hit ’em?

nerd bert (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Newsflash: that’s been going on since Jefferson if not before. Cronies get repaid with cushy diplomatic posts to places where they won’t be a threat, and it’s been going on since the start of the Republic.

Of course, it’s not usually quite a brazen as Obama/Hillary, and there’s almost never hard evidence of it as there is now. But it’s one of our grander traditions.

John85851 (profile) says:

Hackers can plant evidence

… and any hacker worth his or her salt isn’t going to leave evidence of the hack or their ties to a nation state.
Yes, but any hacker worth his or her salt can easily plant false evidence that points to almost any party he or she wants the FBI to believe did this. I wouldn’t be surprise if officials found “evidence” that they say ties the hack to the Russians. Though the media won’t ask if the evidence is real or if they’re putting it out there to support a new war with Russia.

Dismembered3po (profile) says:

Meh. What's the big deal?

That government officials are on the warpath over this should come as a surprise to nobody.

Remember, these are people lulled by the phrase “We absolutely kill people based on metadata.”

These are the same people whose response to hard evidence that, “ok, we tortured some folks,” was a resounding “Meh.”

Anonymous Coward says:

As a people we are in need of putting a halt to looking at where the finger is pointing, and instead focus on whom is pointing that finger. The elephant party is trying to reinvent itself, even if doing a damned poor job of it. The jackass party threw the new deal folds under the bus and is offering old school elephant party policies instead. They were all laughing at him last fall, and one can only hope they will all be out looking for work in January with the rest of us.

Anonymous Coward says:

If the government of Russia does indeed have a hacking division, then it’s not unreasonable to assume that they’ve been operating for a long time, hacking or attempting to hack very many US government servers.

It’s funny that only after a a major political embarrassment occurs does anyone point a finger at Russia as this rogue nation — and in this case, perhaps not surprisingly, by the embarrassed party.

vgrig (profile) says:

Let me see...

Commit to act of aggression against a nuclear superpower with enough missiles to wipe us off the face of the earth 10 times over (even if we manage to shut down 90% of them before they reach the target) over a zero evidence accusations of hacking of a private (non-government) organization… Yeah – let do that! Let’s make America great again – great wide open uninhabited nuclear wasteland…

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