US Officials 'Strategically Leak' That US Is Ready To Hack Russia If It Interferes With Election

from the oh-come-on dept

For the past few months, we’ve been covering the increasingly eager stance of some in the “cybersecurity” and government worlds to proactively launch offensive cyberattacks on Russia. Going all the way back to the early summer, when Russia’s role in any hacks was totally speculative, some were already advocating for “cyberwar” as a response. As we reached the fall, suddenly it was leaked that many inside the government were getting itchy trigger fingers to launch some sort of digital attack. And, government officials really seemed to rely on the ever gullible reporters at NBC to push this story.

So it comes as little surprise that NBC has the rather clumsily, if strategically linked news that the US government is all ready to cause cyber havoc on Russia if it does anything serious to interfere with US elections. Think, for just a second, how people in the government and national security worlds would react if someone like Ed Snowden leaked the following bit of info:

U.S. military hackers have penetrated Russia’s electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin’s command systems, making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the U.S. deem it necessary, according to a senior intelligence official and top-secret documents reviewed by NBC News.

But, of course, since it’s the US government leaking this info, no one seems to care. Of course, that’s because everyone knows what’s going on here. This is US officials basically telling Russia: “Hey, don’t mess with our election or we’ll do some cyber stuff.” The claim that the US has hacked into Russian systems is certainly believable. That’s what the NSA does after all (y’know, when it’s not collecting info on Americans).

But the whole story is just silly posturing in a weird election year filled with silly posturing about hacks and cyberwar. Who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow, but it would be nice if it didn’t involve any nation state feeling the need to break out “cyber weapons” for any reason.

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Comments on “US Officials 'Strategically Leak' That US Is Ready To Hack Russia If It Interferes With Election”

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30 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

No worries, Russia has what, a couple thousand people in the entire country? It’s all frozen up there, there can’t be that many people can there?

I mean this might be a disaster in waiting if we were talking about a country willing and able to stand up to the USG and return the favor if the USG picked a fight, but with a tiny country like Russia it’s not like there’s any risk of that, so it’s hardly a case of idiot politicians trying to act tough and gungho, without realizing that the other side is fully capable of fighting back if they push it too far.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

Here, let me cyber- that for you.

These cyber-leaks are directly cyber-responsible for cyber-loss of cyber-American cyber-lives and cyber-endangers cyber-field operatives’ cyber-safety and that of their cyber-families at cyber-home. We need to cyber-find and cyber-jail these cyber-leakers as cyber-quickly as cyber-possible since that cyber-will cyber-obviously cyber-undo cyber-any cyber-harm cyber-that cyber-has cyber-occurred.

Daydream says:

Re: Dangerous game.

“We regret to inform the people of Russia that yesterday evening, an unidentified terrorist group seized control of our Veles squadron of remote-controlled military drones.

We no longer have access to the drones, their programming has been altered to no longer respond to our command codes, they have been flown to an unknown location.

We believe that the terrorists used vulnerabilities in our system created by hackers employed by the United States to seize control of our drones, and we are currently demanding full disclosure from the Americans regarding any involvement they have in our computer systems…

In the meantime, Russia is in a state of emergency, and our air force will remain on full alert until such time the drones have been recaptured or destroyed…

…What do you MEAN they’ve been spotted in the United States?! Did those hackers put the vulnerabilities in our system to steal our…wait, what, the drones are bombing the Americans?…Huh, irony.”

I.T. Guy says:

“U.S. military hackers have penetrated Russia’s electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin’s command systems, making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the U.S. deem it necessary, according to a senior intelligence official and top-secret documents reviewed by NBC News.”

I sure hope they will go after this senior intelligence official for leaking a top-secret document they way they went after Snowden and others.

Anonymous Coward says:

I honestly don’t think Russia cares what the U.S. threatens to do here.

Also claiming that we have hacked into Russia’s infrastructure will only make them look into it and if they do they are likely to find the exploit being used and patch it and remove any infiltrating software. The Russians aren’t dumb, not by a long shot.

Also, isn’t the U.S. supposed to be a bastion of free speech? Now they are trying to suppress Russia’s free speech with threats? Really?

If Russia says/releases something that changes the outcome of the election it’s not Russia’s fault, it’s the faults of the candidates for being so vulnerable to such attacks. They should have taken a more favorable stance or not done whatever it is that changed the election outcomes.

Furthermore any leaked information that would change an election outcome is probably knowledge that the public should know for that very reason, so that we can determine who the best candidate is. The fact that the U.S. wants to suppress information that may change an election outcome is evidence that the reason they are suppressing such info has little to do with the public interest and more to do with avoiding embarrassment and preventing the public from making informed decisions.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

The Right Way To Vote

I voted early in West Virginia, and they now have a system which is an intelligent combination of computers and paper. Yo go in, 1) show your ID and get marked on the voter rolls, and they give you a blank paper ballot. (2) you insert this in a slot in the voting machine, make your selections on the screen, and the machine prints them on the ballot and ejects it. (3) You read the ballot, and then carry it to the “ballot box,” which is actually more like an ATM machine, and put the ballot in the slot, where it is automatically registered, and the light flashes. All in all, it is about as tamper-proof a system as one can ask for.

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