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08 July 2017

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Yeah, Right

I have serious problems with this article, which can be summarized by pointing to these sentences: "Be patient. Most of this will be proven or disproven in time."

All well and good, but the people making the very public and hysterical allegations that The Russians Stole My Election! are not showing that same patience.

They are shouting those allegations from the rooftops, and doing so at the very same time that they are steadfast in their refusal to show anyone *any* evidence of *any* kind.

Maybe that evidence exists.
Maybe that evidence doesn't exist.
Maybe that evidence never existed.

You are correct that we don't know which of those three possibilities is true, but I (humbly) suggest that you are incorrect in suggesting that the correct response is to be patient.

No, I think the correct response is this: to shout back that this emperor has no clothes, and until *they* see fit to wrap themselves in their evidence then *they* should sit down and shut up.

Oh, and one more thing: "I shake my head at the constant demands for proof. It’s damaging."

No, I would argue that it's "prudent".

Because the alternative is simply to accept the notion that we should trust those who have shown that they can not be trusted and I, for one, am not inclined to do that.

Just my opinion, of course. But honestly held nonetheless.

b

@TTG - I seriously doubt your explanations.

Shawn Henry may have once done a good job at the FBI. But he is now CSO
and President of Services of Crowdstrike with tons of share options in a very valuable company. He is there for the money, not for some oath he once gave in a completely different organization. I see no reason to trust him anymore than any other self interested snake oil peddler. The same goes for others who ones were in the government cyber business and then went into the commercial cyber security craze.

The Crowdstrike reporting as well as the other (in-)security companies always peddle ATP-XX and similar self invented designations like "Cozy Bear" and "FANCY Bear" as a "Russian group" and as a sure sign of "Russian interference". (See here for example: https://go.crowdstrike.com/rs/281-OBQ-266/images/Report2016CyberIntrusionServicesCasebook.pdf)

That is pure nonsense and a sure sign of a snake oil product. The ATP descriptions designate tools and methods. They are neutral to actors. A massive phishing campaign is just that. A tool or method. It does not say who is behind it. Some trick to break into a python server is just that - a trick. It does not tell you who used it. Tools can be reused. They get copied all the time. The hacker scene is full of tool-collections once used by this or that nation state that are now used by others for other purposes.
"The house was broken into with a large hammer" does not designate a specific group of thieves. Any such group can use a large hammer. All the investigators will see is the result of the use of a large hammer. Is the use of a hammer a certain behavior? Sure, but that does not give any trace to a specific group or even nation.

I would need way more then claims from some self-advertising snake oil peddlers about certain tools allegedly used against DNC servers to convince me of anything "Russian" or even "hacking".

Aside from that: I do not see much reason or motive for Russia to try to hack into the DNC. There are way more important (military, industrial) targets for Russia to hack into and resources in Moscow are more scarce than in Washington.

What I see is an intense campaign by the Clinton aligned borg to bash Russia wherever possible. Hacks like Clapper, Brennan, Abramovich (and partially Comey) are part of the "Cold War 2.0" campaign. Trump's election endangered that campaign. The "Russian hacking" claims further the CW2.0 issue as much as they restrict Trump.

(Note: My statements on IT don't come from hot air. I co-programmed an Internet Protocol driver for Windows (then 3.0) before Microsoft started to make one itself. I later ran one of Germany's biggest IP access network of its time as the responsible CTO. Currently I am consulting on organizational (IT-)security.)

Old Microbiologist

I agree completely. The largest issue I see is the obfuscation of the actual content in the emails which is a disaster and reveals exactly how bad the Democrats are. The typical way to avoid any trouble is to create smoke about the accuser and if that doesn't work generate an alternative reality. Another issue not mentioned much is that many other countries tried to influence the elections. That would include Saudi Arabia, China, Israel, and Ukraine among others. Ukraine stands out as being the most aggressive but the Saudi's did it the "right" way by donating massive amounts to their candidate sometimes above board and others using nefarious methods. The Israelis are well known to have a firm hand in massaging US politics. Add in other actors such as Soros and you can see how big a mess the US campaigns are. Russia pales in comparison to the others yet serve a purpose as the boogey man responsible for Hillary's loss. Americans love to hate Russia and the Democrats need a target to put the blame onto. It is really a continuation of the US foreign policy of the last 100 years. Russia, China, Iran, Brazil, and Venezuela have been defiant about American hegemony and are all under attack one way or another. Russia has been the best at defending itself from US dominance and China will follow suit now that the pressure has been ramped up.

But, if you think about it, if the Supreme Court has defined corporations as having individual rights then maybe foreign governments can also have the same rights? So, maybe interfering in elections is "normal".

I personally do not accept that Russia did anything directly or unusual and certainly far less than we do to them regularly. However, I can accept that the CIA or the NSA has developed hacking tools (as has been proven) which can make it look like a foreign government such as Russia has attempted a hacking. I believe the latter before I believe Russia interfered. Looking at the actual publicly released "proof" it was basically stating I am Ivan the Russian or some such drivel. No one writes code in Cryrillic ever anywhere so leaving that as evidence is bizarre. So, to me it looks very amateurish but that sells well to idiots who are reviewing it as such.

A more logical attempt by a state actor would have been to hack the voting machines (which the CIA was caught trying to do) or to influence the actual vote counts when reconciled. There is zero evidence that happened. What did happen was a hack (hard to say that for Podesta who is a fool who had his passwords emailed to himself so it wouldn't take much to hack him) of Podesta's emails and the same from the DNC server. Much more logical and typical is an insider leaked the DNC stuff which is what Wikileaks and Mega have been saying all along and the subsequent mysterious death of Seth Rich lends credence to that. I discount the Podesta emails as anything other than somebody got into his email saw it was juicy and released it. It could have been anyone including kids. I believe that Seth Rich was murdered a lot easier than Russian hacking as this is typical for the Clintonistas. The body count around the Clintons is impressive and if only 1/3 is true it is still a lot. If you screw with them you die and these are very evil psychopathic people. Podesta is a good example of why I didn't want her in office. That is why most people like myself voted for Trump and nothing to do with Russia at all. Not that Trump is Prince Charming as it looks to be like he is just a flip side to Clinton so we have ended up at the same point anyway.

The usual way to look at this stuff is to ask "who gained?". It doesn't look like this helped Russia at all. Is there anyone else that gained from this election that wouldn't have if Clinton won? I would approach it that way if the actual truth is of interest to anyone.

The last thing would be to decide how to prevent future interference at all levels. That can only be done by taking money out of campaign financing. No one in power will willingly do that (they get to keep unspent campaign funds to be used for any purpose).

BillWade

If any entity tries to influence me in how to vote with any sort of persuasive technique, I'm ok with it, it's up to me to do my own research and make up my own mind. Since the USA MSM is not legally bound to tell the truth, I have to do extra research to make up my mind, all's fair I suppose. Unless the Russians, or some other group, can electronically change the vote tally or hold a real gun to my head, they can do as they please as far as I'm concerned.

Ed

SST is doing excellent work. Thanks for the informative discussion and analysis.

The Twisted Genius

confusedponderer,

My sincere apologies for announcing your premature demise. I now remember your disappearance was temporary. I may have confused that with our loss of Charles I. I do miss my "forest brother."

bluetonga

Thank you for a different, professional and quite articulate discussion on the topic. I take good note that there seems to be true, reliable independent experts – Shawn Henry, to name one – to unambiguously identify Russian hacking attempts in DNC and Podesta files and to consequently support the thesis of effective Russian meddling with the US electoral process. If I understand you well, these attacks may not have been quite impactful overall but they should be understood as one cog in the much larger wheel of a reflexive control strategy that aims to influence US domestic decisions and processes.

This last point is the weak argument in my opinion. Russians snooping into US institutions and prominent, influential public figures makes some sense, after all, since this is what every intelligence organization does to some degree. Aside from the fact that hacking does no unveil by itself the ultimate hackers goals, there is no doubt that major national intelligence organizations around the world hack into each other's services and institutions, including longstanding allies. US's own record in this regard is both notorious and infamous, and one may sense, as incidentally hinted by Russian authorities, that in this instance they might only receive a taste of their own medicine (who after all wrote the textbooks of color revolutions in former USSR and Arabic countries?). Soviet strategists may have conceived of and theorized reflexive control techniques, but what about America's own perception management policies?

This said, how relevant were those hacks to the Democrats' claim that it stole them the election? I guess barely. Anti-establishment stances are gaining favor all over the western populations due to the increasing drift between citizen and leaders, so opponents to the West need little creativity to find ways of increasing the momentum. Lots of people voted for Trump because they were simply sick and tired of being left aside by the leading nomenklatura, as embodied by HRC. Aren't precisely these relentless attempts of the MSM and the Democratic political instances to negate the obvious and put the blame on some existing but largely fantasized foe a form of reflexive control strategy? It seems to me that nowadays those deceitful techniques are simply used by establishment agents against their own people.

Finally, I can understand that releasing evidences may backfire and harm ongoing intelligence procedures. Yet, confidence in the press, the government and federal institutions have kept plummeting over the last decades. Less and less bold statements issued by them are taken at face value by the public. Evidence is neither a luxury nor a delicacy. It has become a vital resource in a society infected with deception at all levels.

Anna

This? - "I think you’re all trying too hard to exonerate Putin and prevent any besmirchment of the immaculate glory of Trump’s election to the Presidency of the United States."

1. How immaculate is the glory of the CIA/NED/Mossad behavior towards the sovereignty of many countries on different continents?
2. Why don't you focus on the main point of the scandal: the illegal activities of DNC in relation to Bernie Sanders. If you care for the fairness of elections to the Presidency of the United States, should not you focus your attention on the maintaining the US laws and rules first and foremost?

"The Russians and select members of the Trump circle also understand this revolution. Perhaps this shared understanding is the ultimate source of all the talk about Trump-Russia collusion."
What about Clintons and Saudis collusion (9/11 anyone)? What about the condescending attitude towards the US democracy by Clintons' warriors (should not we start discussing "democracy on the march" in Libya and Ukraine right away?) Your point is, the US citizenry is made of little children that need protection from the bad Russians. The very bad Russians are so bad that they allow themselves to become armed so very close to the NATO borders. Right. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. The Cheney cohort rushed to protect Clinton. The whole ziocon camp stands behind Clinton. Wonder why.

"And why didn’t the DNC turn their email servers over to the FBI? For one thing, remember that Hillary Clinton was under FBI investigation at the time for her own email troubles. She and the DNC saw no upside to turning over anything that the FBI could use against her in that investigation."
You mean, as a public servant - a Sec of State - Clinton is immune from any investigation if she feels so? - Even if when her bad judgment could compromise national security? If she is serious about national security re bad Russians (and if you are serious about national security), the FBI investigation should have been the must.
"I recently found a TED Talk-like presentation by Gordon Greenhall, a futurist..” – are you serious? Sounds like a paranoia over the alleged “neuropsychological programming” of Russian citizens by the US propaganda.

Moreover, there were corrections in the CrowdStrike production, which were pointed out by Ukrainians and Brits. Does this fact affect your attitude towards Kevin Mandia’ & Shawn Henry’ competence? How come that these two supposedly highly experienced FBI agents have allowed the publication of blatantly erroneous information by CrowdStrike?

J

Speaking of a Russian I/O op, take a look at this flashmob that can carry a tune.

Непередаваемые ощущения. Наш флешмоб
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNGyWbaOD44

kao_hsien_chih

Great observations!

J

The sad thing is that both governments (U.S. and Russia) waste money, time, and resources with their failed I/O operations in each others elections. Our U.S. I/O falls on deaf Russian ears, and Russia's I/O falls on deaf U.S. ears.

U.S. security goes through Russia, and Russian security goes through U.S.. We need a formal alliance to put to bed all the heated BS and Nuclear threats. So that everybody can get on with their lives of loving their families and friends, and trying to build a future for humanity and our planet.


The Twisted Genius

b,

Your criticism is too focused on digital forensics and leaves out the far more important aspects of observing human behavior over significant periods of time. That is where attribution is made possible. The answer is not in the tools, but in those who use the tools. That is how the science and art of attribution developed both in the IC and in those private IT security companies that specialize in this kind of threat analysis.

Beyond that, your criticism of the attitude that Russia is the devil incarnate is spot on. It is counterproductive, dangerous and just flat wrong.

Bill H

And an astonishingly successful distraction.

Eric Newhill

Shepard,
I am, somewhat experimentally at this time, a consumer of the kind of data/analytics you describe. I have access to all kinds of such data that comes into my employer via vendor feeds. We know what you buy with your credit cards (especially interested in unhealthy habits like cigarettes and alcohol, but also food choices), the magazines/online sites you subscribe to, your finances, political preferences and personality attributes and much more + "we" being an insurance company, all of your healthcare diagnoses and procedures. All of this gets fed into SAS data mining software to analyze the strength of associations between variables and to create a profile of an individual or and aggregate profile of a group. This will help us set premium prices; perhaps make the decision of whether or not to issue insurance at all in a given market, employer group, indiviual, etc. Also, can be used to target and tailor and market additional products to members.

These days I often find myself in the role of liaison between business and IT. I talk to the IT guys that we have brought in on contractor status and they tell me about all the work they have done for companies like Google, Facebook, various smart phone ap developers. As you say, all of these companies are engaged in the secondary business of gathering data about all aspects of users' lives so that data can be joined together from all the sources for the purpose constructing a complete profile of individual Americans. The profiles then become a tradable commodity.

But I don't see the Russians as having access to all of that profiling. This is a very complex infrastructure involving tools and partnerships beginning at the point of data collection (e.g. facebook, twitter, cell phone ap, cable TV carrier) and the many brokers that are buying and selling the info so that the various bits and pieces can ultimately rest in one place in a format that permits combining and analysis.

If the Russians haphazardly inserted their own memes (or what you have you) into the larger flow of targeted marketing/influencing, I don't know how you could ever parse out what originated with Russia and what did not. There is so much of it going on. It's a needle in the haystack problem. Did they do it? Who could possibly know? Did it have an impact on election results? Who could possibly know? Much silliness over nothing by anti-Trumpers. The topic is losing traction quickly and a year from now will be totally forgotten.

 Ishmael Zechariah

VV,SST;
Here is an example of why Trump won:
https://balkin.blogspot.com/2016/05/abandoning-defensive-crouch-liberal.html
The writer is a Harvard prof. If anyone knows how to reconcile the first two sentences of his point #6, I would be happy to hear it.

Ishmael Zechariah

Jack

These same tools and methods were available to Hillary. She also paid millions for data analytics. Probably way more than Trump. What the Democrats and the media establishment don't want to accept is that many just didn't like her and many didn't want the Clinton's back in the WH. It was obvious she had no voter enthusiasm. Compared to Bernie and Trump who were getting hundreds to show up hours before and stand in line to attend their rallies in city after city, she could essentially get mostly paid placard holders to show up.

The Democrat establishment rigged their primary to nominate her. The media and the establishment of both parties who uniformly campaigned against Trump were shocked they could not defeat the guy they ridiculed. Maybe a better strategy is to reflect why they lost to a "buffoon". Implying the weakness of their sure thing. But instead they unleashed an ugly campaign of delegitimization.

The Twisted Genius

Anna,

The DNC, like the RNC, is a private institution. It is not an integral part of our government and is not a necessary part of our political and electoral process. Their seriously flawed top down process for selecting national candidates with that god awful idea of super delegates is seriously flawed and is, IMO, the primary reason for the Democratic loss in the 2016 election. Even beyond this candidate selection process, I agree with Bernie's criticism of the party, “The current model and the current strategy of the Democratic party is an absolute failure. The Democratic party needs fundamental change. What it needs is to open up its doors to working people, and young people, and older people who are prepared to fight for social and economic justice. The Democratic party must understand what side it is on. And that cannot be the side of Wall Street, or the fossil fuel industry, or the drug companies.”

I also think your conflating Clinton's email server with the DNC email server. The former was used by a sitting SecState and was turned over to the FBI. The DNC server is private property of a private organization. All such organizations are loath to voluntarily turn over this kind of property to the FBI.

How do you expect Mandia and Shawn to control publications put out by CrowdStrike? They are separate companies. The only part of the CrowdStrike report on the hacking of a Ukrainian artillery app that was retracted was its assessment of the effectiveness of the hack. They based that assessment on IISS data on losses of D-30 artillery pieces by the Ukrainian Army. When IISS corrected their initial erroneous assessment, CrowdStrike had no choice but to issue a correction of their assessment of the hacked app's effectiveness. They still stand by the the rest of their report.

Bobo

TTG
My hat is off too you for the in depth details and enlightenment.
I look at the concept of Reflexive Control as just a sophistication of why I ate Raisin Bran versus Wheaties as a child. Simple yes, but unless we break these concepts down to basics our population will just blow it away. The only thing to learn from this Russian IO is that we need to secure our voting system better than present. Fortunately for us, our present system is so diverse that an intentional attack fails in that only a minute change not sufficient to tip the outcome occurs. Now in Greenhalls video he talks about the 49-51 and the traffic lights but doesn't this move from an IO to a direct attack? Now I guess my biggest concern with this Russian Hack/IO what was our esteemed intelligence community doing while this was going on. There must of been some sort of group that is tasked with countering this type of IO so that it does not get out of hand. We have heard that this all occurred but nothing about how Clapper, Brennan or NSA thwarted it. That would be very enlightening.
I look forward to reading the evidence in a decade of so as distorted as that will be. In the interim Trump has moved on for the betterment of this country.

Fred

shepherd,

Facebook is targetting ads towards people because it might get them mad? Who paid for that, Wonder Boy Robbie Mook, who blew through a billion bucks for crap just like that? (The donors, but who cares what they thought anyway.) How'd that work out? Well, as Samuel L Jackson says in the commercial "What's in your wallet". From where I sit it looks like the usual DNC suspects got paid by the usual DNC campaign staff. They lost just like Donna Brazile lost every other time she was in charge. Way to go. You might want to upgrade your computer program to the M6 version, M5 isn't doing such a bang up job.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ultimate_Computer

Fred

Eric,

"But I don't see the Russians as having access to all of that profiling."

If its commercially available they can buy it.

shepherd

Eric,

The profiling is available via proprietary tools running on top of exposed/purchasable Facebook and Google data. The tools you describe are not the ones I'm talking about. In addition, other third party data sets enable you to accomplish much the same thing. They are much more targeted and precise than the segmentation tools you describe, which have a different purpose.

So we're clear, the Russians are extremely proficient at I/O, and a concerted effort on their part could have an effect. It's clear to someone who deals in propaganda that they're spewing a lot of propaganda.

Roy G

It is important for us skeptics to hear this expert analysis, which reminds us at least that there are many dimensions to this situation. That said, I keep coming back to what I see as the Big Picture: The DNC email hack revealed the absolute corruption of the DNC leadership, which should be more concerning than how this truth was learned. Think about that in an absence of national and political identities.

As for how information is presented to the public, charges of Russia influencing the media are to me like the Israelis complaining about the awesome high-tech arsenal of Hamas. Yes, there is something there, but it's more than a little rich when the side complaining has CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, etc. etc. at their disposal.

shepherd

Jack,

My comment has nothing to do with Hillary. It's a technical comment on the tools and methods we have available, and how Trump's team employed them in an effective fashion. In case it's not clear, I know people who work with Cambridge Analytica. It was cutting edge stuff.

Barish

"These concepts are already understood in the marketing and advertising world. The Russians and select members of the Trump circle also understand this revolution. Perhaps this shared understanding is the ultimate source of all the talk about Trump-Russia collusion. There may be no real collusion at all, just simultaneous arrivals at light bulb moments in the field of reflexive control and applied advances in communications and information technology. It's possible."

I very much doubt that credit for "digital propaganda" can be pin-pointed to just these two parties. As it is a new playing field, a host of parties, both political and corporate, are delving into it independent of one another at the same time. If anything, credit has to be given to Trump's campaign to getting the toss of the coin right.
As another comment here put it, it's good to be aware of current advert-tech and marketing techniques, but ultimately it is still left to every individual to make up their own mind, as it should be.

Warnings against "cyber warfare" are also hardly a new thing. Accusations against certain countries have already been drummed up in years past - always with the caveat that determining perpetrators is no sure thing, which holds true today as well. As such, ministries and organizations tasked with engaging in that field are, IMHO, better off concentrating on that rather than openly play politics.

Here in Germany, just prior to G20, a certain Mr Maaßen, head of our "Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz", released a report that, aside from noting a rise in the number of extremists in 2016 also lay blame for "cyber attacks" and espionage against Germany squarely on Russia, China and Turkey. He made a point of announcing such in person in just that order on TV as well, while not even touching on US activities which got attention here a few years past and never stopped since. Fortunately, this didn't stop our Mrs Merkel from meeting either China's Xi nor Russia's Putin, nor should this petrify any direct engagement with Russia in its tracks as appears to be the main goal of the hysteria in the US.

Ultimately, "Cyber warfare" is a fact of life today and neither that nor espionage should under any circumstances be turned into an actual casus belli, a thought that appears to be increasingly entertained by certain circles.

shepherd

Fred,

What are you talking about? It was Trump who paid money to Cambridge Analytica to target the neurotic end of the OCEAN spectrum on Facebook. "Neurotic" is misleading, but it refers to people who are, among other things, quick to anger. If you don't like that, it's not my problem.

I do this stuff for a living and offer you information, not opinion. Nothing I've said has the least thing to do with the DNC. At what I do, they sucked, plain and simple.

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