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 Vladi­mir 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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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 8:52am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 10:14am

      Re: Creative justification

      I wonder if North Korea can actually hack anything worthy. I mean, they seem to have last generation power Macs but connection speed may be an issue. Then again the US has Comcast and they still hack the hell out...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Padpaw (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 2:20pm

        Re: Re: Creative justification

        they make fake military videos from video game footage so I would guess the talent for hacking probably isn't there either

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Someone somewhere nowhere, 14 Sep 2016 @ 10:15pm

      Re: Creative justification

      Except that the USA won't invade Russia over non existing WMDs because of existing WMDs.

      And then people wonder, why some countries do want WMDs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2016 @ 9:41am

    Let's punish Russia for possibly maybe having a potentially theoretical hand in exposing the DNC's massive corruption, but let's not talk about any of the actual corruption or punish anyone involved.

    OH HEY LOOK A DIVERSION!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2016 @ 9:54am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      CrushU (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 10:58am

      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. :(

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Coyne Tibbets (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 11:32am

      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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        JEDIDIAH, 14 Sep 2016 @ 7:17pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2016 @ 5:20am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2016 @ 3:49pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2016 @ 8:21am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2016 @ 9:56am

    Correction...

    Again, none of this is to suggest that Russia isn't hacking the United States

    Again, none of this is to suggest that Russia isn't hacking the DNC. The DNC, contrary to their desires, is not the entire United States.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Donald Drunk, 14 Sep 2016 @ 10:12am

      Re: Correction...

      You bet they aren't. Because I am.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Matthew A. Sawtell, 14 Sep 2016 @ 10:16am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 10:45am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nerd bert (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 11:55am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            crade (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 1:13pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Correction...

            As if there was anyone for the U.S. to vote for whose foreign policy isn't "Meddle recklessly".

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              nerd bert (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 9:28pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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*.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2016 @ 5:24am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Correction...

                "What's the point of having nuclear weapons if you can't use them?"
                -The Donald

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Padpaw (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 2:21pm

          Re: Re: Re: Correction...

          Politicians will generally say anything about anyone if they are paid off enough.

          They can even contradict themselves from 1 sentence to the next if the script calls for it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dismembered3po (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 4:03pm

      Re: Correction...

      Actually, the first statement is correct.

      Russia absolutely IS hacking the United States.

      Just because the discussion is centered around one such example, doesn't make the statement any less true.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 10:48am

    These Intel types probably think a cyber war is firing cannons across the internet down a series of tubes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TreasonHunter, 14 Sep 2016 @ 10:52am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2016 @ 4:37pm

      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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Annonymouse, 14 Sep 2016 @ 11:01am

    They seem so Gung ho so let's facilitate things and gives each a made in America gun and parachute and air drop them over the Putin Palace after having them well refreshed.
    I hear Canada can bus them back home afterwards.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2016 @ 12:17pm

      Re:

      Look buddy. We're always happy to give our drunk friends a ride home after a roudy night... but if this keeps up we're gonna start charging for gas 'eh?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2016 @ 11:10am

    It's because of the Clinton propaganda machine, which is now trying to misdirect people away from what's REALLY in those emails - like the fact that all US ambassadors were assigned on a quid pro quo basis.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nerd bert (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 9:32pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 11:34am

    Wall

    I know. Let's build a wall...a cyber wall! At $10 million per megabyte. And make Russia pay for it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 11:43am

    Well it would pretty much fit the pattern, wouldn't it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 12:56pm

    The impression is what matters

    Russia plants public hints that they are trying to rig the election for X, Y is a shoo-in. Putin puts his fingers together and says "excellent".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2016 @ 1:31pm

    War on terror must be failing

    The war on terror must be failing to keep the sheeple in line so they are switching tactics and reviving the cold war.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 2:15pm

    Maybe they are so full of themselves with their "successes" against smaller weaker countries that those that want a war with Russia are forgetting Russia is heavily militarized.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Peter (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 2:45pm

    If the Pentagon's Cyberwarriors are as efficient as their boots on the ground in the Middle east, they'll end up with a bloody nose and their tail between the legs in a fight with the Russians.

    Popcorn anybody?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 3:43pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dismembered3po (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 4:13pm

    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."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2016 @ 4:24pm

      Re: Meh. What's the big deal?

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

      Because torture is wrong, but only when other people do it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2016 @ 7:19pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2016 @ 6:11am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    vgrig (profile), 15 Sep 2016 @ 7:30am

    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2016 @ 7:32am

    I say we go over there and hack into their new speed limit signs

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2016 @ 8:18am

    The only net outcome is you wind up looking like a giant, blithering hypocrite to the global community.
    ...
    Attack! Attack! Who needs evidence? Who needs the moral high ground?


    Matt Parker and Trey Stone know the drill:
    We must blame them and cause a fuss
    Before somebody thinks of blaming us!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Stosh, 15 Sep 2016 @ 10:22am

    This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that a "back door" is necessary in encryption to allow the gubberment find the bad guys. They will be able to tell who did the hack by analyzing the dirty "footprints" left on the Back Door Welcome Mat....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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