Russia's Hackathon Continues, Targeting The New York Times And Other News Agencies

from the all-up-in-the...-everything dept

If this keeps up, the list of entities not hacked by Russian intelligence will be shorter than the list of those who have. [Caution: autoplay annoyance ahead.]

Hackers thought to be working for Russian intelligence have carried out a series of cyber breaches targeting reporters at the New York Times and other US news organizations, according to US officials briefed on the matter.

The New York Times has brought in investigators to "assess the damage." If anything truly damaging was obtained during the hack, there's a good chance we'll all get a chance to see it. While national security investigators are theorizing that the Russian hackers' targeting of non-government organizations is designed to give them a look at the government's inner workings without actually having to breach a government server, there's also the possibility that this hacking is more aligned with the focus of the Democratic National Committee hack: to find something potentially embarrassing and publish it for the world to see.

According to the CNN article, Clinton's campaign believes the DNC hack was politically-motivated. Hardly unsurprising, considering most Russian hacking attempts are propelled by politics. The claim that Russia wants Trump to win the election isn't an entirely outlandish theory. If so, the hacking of news agencies may be similarly motivated. The press hasn't been shy about pointing out Trump's lies and bad behavior, so it could be hackers are seeking communications pointing to an anti-Trump conspiracy.

It's likely they'll find evidence that fits this description, but it's hardly a conspiracy, no matter how theorists choose to spin it. Donald Trump is an exceptional presidential candidate -- and not in the most favorable definition of that term. While most candidates would at least pay lip service to presenting a unified front, Trump has been intentionally divisive, setting up "us vs. them" narratives that go beyond simple Republican vs. Democrat terms and deep into the party he supposedly represents.

Beyond the alleged backing of Trump, there's more to be gained than simply pointing out the media's transparent disdain for the Republican candidate. There are also leaked -- but unreleased -- documents stored on agencies' servers.

News organizations are considered top targets because they can yield valuable intelligence on reporter contacts in the government, as well as communications and unpublished works with sensitive information, US government officials believe.

It could very well be that the Russian government is seeking to provoke a cyberwar, utilizing hackers to fire its opening salvos. There's also money to be made -- on both sides -- from a variety of cybersecurity firms who will do all they can to turn high-profile hacking into a multi-decade cyber-Cold War that will provide them with plenty of lucrative contracts. So, instead of seeing these attacks as a very normal state of affairs, hyperbolic theorizing will take precedence over more measured responses.

Filed Under: hacking, journalism, russia
Companies: ny times


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  1. identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, 24 Aug 2016 @ 10:16am

    Why Worship Putin?

    The Russian, or Soviet totalitarian state, having murdered thirty million of its own people, has long since used up its presumption of innocence. Vladimir Putin, the heir and successor of this totalitarian state, having murdered sundry of his political opponents, has also used up his presumption of innocence. Donald Trump is profoundly unwilling to call the dictatorship of Russia "an evil empire," as Ronald Reagan did, but on the contrary, brags of his mutual admiration with Vladimir Putin, and publicly invites just such hacking as has taken place, and calls for the Russian invasion of the Baltic states-- which would of course be a first step in the Russian invasion of Europe. The next immediate target would be Denmark, the gateway to the Baltic. Since Trump chooses to implicate himself in whatever the Russians are up to, I think we may take him at his word.

    "Herr Hitler has assured me, and I believe him" -- we all know how that ended up. Obviously, Vladimir Putin, like Adolph Hitler in his time, is out for whatever he can get. He in an opportunist who continually probes for weaknesses in the Western Democracies, and exploits them when found.

    Russia has a hypothetical sort of territorial claim to the American West Coast. From 1812-42, there was a Russian settlement at Fort Ross, just north of San Francisco.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Ross,_California

    Naturally, this claim has been picked up by Russian Nationalists. Faaced with such a moral weakling as Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin might very well assert a claim to California, Oregon, Washington State, Alaska, and Hawaii, as well as the Camadian province of British Columbia, and the Canadian Territory of the Yukon. Putin would propose to strip the residents of this territory or their American or Canadian citizenship, and declare them to be Russian subjects, thus making Russia a superpower again.

    I don't know what Putin may be blackmailing Trump with. However, it is quite likely that pressure will be applied, and Trump might very well endorse Putin's claims.

    Of course, Putin is stupid, in the largest sense of the word, as Hitler was stupid in the largest sense of the word. If territorial boundaries become negotiable, China will promptly invent reasons why Siberia and Russian Central Asia have always been part of China. The Chinese will dredge up claims going back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). China has the population to occupy Siberia, and Russia no longer does. China wants to become more self-sufficient in raw materials, and less dependent on the United States. The logic leads north. All that really stops it is the rule of law.

    So why on earth would Americans want to vote for Vladimir Putin for President of the United States?

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