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.