Friday, December 16, 2016

How do we know that the DNC hack was directed by Russian President Putin?

 The US intelligence agencies have asked the American people to trust them, that they know that Russian Federation President Putin personally directed hackers to help Donald Trump defeat Secretary Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.  

    Well, intelligence agencies, I have the greatest respect for your capabilities and your people.   
    But I also know you made serious errors in recommending that the US invade Iraq to stop Saddam Hussein from creating Weapons of Mass Destruction, and we got into a war we really didn't need.  Now President Obama is pledging retalliation.  So pardon me for wanting to ask a few questions before we get into a squabble with the Number 2 superpower in the world, okay?
    First let's be clear.  The most important claim is that President Putin ordered Russian Intelligence Agencies to deliberately release emails that were damaging to Secretary Clinton.
     I know that everybody is hacking everybody. That is not the point.  We know that everyone is hacking everyone else.  Definitely the Russians want to hack out emails, and I'm also quite sure that we have out own hackers trying to get into various email systems around the world.  Everyone does it.  The Chinese, British, French, Germans, not to mention all the independent computer geniuses that hack just because they think it is fun, or the tabloid press that wants to sell news.  I had my credit card hacked last month.  But that doesn't prove that President Putin did it to influence an election.  Everybody hacks, so that is not any kind of great top secret discovery.  
     Certainly the real question should be how many people were hacking the DNC or government agencies.  It would be astonishing if it was only one group.  I would think that 10 different individuals or groups, with varying skill, try their hand at penetrating secure computer networks.  
     You say that the attack on DNC was so brilliantly conceived that (1) only a professional national intelligence agency could have done it, and that (2) permission of President Putin would have to have been required.  
     Now, the actual breech at DNC occurred from fake emails like the one below, designed to scare witless DNC officials into going onto a fake website and revealing their password to the hacker. Then the hacker tried the same password on other email sites, and sure enough some people were dumb enough to use the same password for multiple accounts. That's it?  This phishing email?  That's the thing that is so brilliant that only Russian Intelligence could create it?    

This "phishing attack" was apparently used to get gullible DNC officials to go to a fake gmail site and change their passwords. That' it? Is this really so sophisticated that only President Putin could have ordered it??

It's not relevant whether there were other agencies working on the same problem with more insidious cyber weapons. The point is that the one that succeeded--the one from which all the emails were downloaded to Mr. Julian Assange and Wikileaks to blab tg the world--was pathetically simple.
I don't think that the Russian SVR would sent all of its hard-earned treasures to Wikileaks.  They usually operate secretly, don't they?  They would like to keep mining the intelligence, rather than informing their victims of what they have so that they can take steps to close the leaks.   I would guess that if the DNC really is so susceptible to phishing attackes, they must have been hacked several times.  Who knows how many hackers around the world have a souvenir from  the Democrats, not to mention government agencies. Just because there is extensive hacking around the world, that does not prove that everyone is united and working for President Putin as their commander.  

The whole idea that Putin then sends his best stuff to Julian Assange to put on his Wikileaks website strikes me as very odd.  Why does he do that? Does Assange command such great power that Putin is actually an employee of Wikileaks?  
   If it was really the Russin intel services, why not just send a bunch of anonymous emails to the major news outlets?

In fact, I would guess that the SVR has an even larger stash of emails that they are not telling about, and probably several agencies around the world have stashes of stuff collected from Americans who use sloppy practices.   It's not that they try to collect information.  We knew that.  It's not that hacking is anything new or that it has never worked before.

The issue is that President Putin supposedly ordered his intelligence agencies to turn over its stash to Wikileaks, and that he was trying to change the outcome of the election to favor Donald Trump,  It is not not not important that lots of people are hacking each other with some degree of success and varying levels of sophisitication.  And there is NO reason to suspect that only one entity was hacking the DNC.
The "evidence" cited by the press is that a lot of intelligence professionals believe it.   But that's not evidence, it just means that it is plausible. A lot of people also believed that the President has no birth certificate, but that doesn't make it true.  I wouldn't be shy about confronting Russia, but I would want hard evidence before betting into a confrontation with Russia. Someone's gut feel is not enought.

Yes, President Putin doesn't like Secretary Clinton.  Well, imagine that.  But a  lot of people don't like her.  Proof that he hates her guts is not proof that he was attempting to manipulate the American election.

Yes, President-elect Trump is a witless dolt who insults the intelligence agencies.  That doesn't mean he's wrong in this case.

Yes the hackers concentrated on Secretary Clinton and the Democrats instead of 50-50 between the Democrats and Republicans.  But so did American tabloids and fake news outlets.  Rightly or wrongly, there was a huge market for false news about our former Secretary this year.  So that's not enough.

Yes the Republicans probably deserve to be the subject of conspiracy theories, after having made up so many whoppers about President Obama.  But that is not enough reason to want to pick a fight with Russia.

A hacker named Guccifer 2.0 claimed to have been the one to hack Secretary Clinton and that he sent the emails to Julian Assange to use against Secretary Clinton.

American intellience tells me not to believe that, that Guccifer 2.0 must be a cover for a huge intelligence agency, like the Russian SVR.  Okay, but can we say that there are no individual hackers out there who can create phishing attacks?  Nobody who would want to sell or give information to Wikileaks?  That only one agency at a time hacks the DNC?  Is that something they do to make it simpler for intel analysts?

Well, I've asked a lot of questions.  I hope they are the right ones.  And maybe the agencies have some great answers.  I hope so.  But I think if we are going to be led into a new cold war, I want to make very sure that he have not misunderstood a tense situation.


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