Of Leaks and Hacks

Written By: - Date published: 3:23 pm, December 20th, 2016 - 24 comments
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Maybe the Russians weren’t coming. Or we must believe that “KGB chief Vladimir Putin put Inspector Clouseau in charge of Russian security and left him to get on with it.” George Washington discusses the evidence. Fodder for the net-savvy

24 comments on “Of Leaks and Hacks”

  1. Nice find. I must say that Craig Murray’s prose has been growing on me lately.

    ‘Despite himself being a former extremely competent KGB chief, Vladimir Putin [is alleged to have] put Inspector Clouseau in charge of Russian security and left him to get on with it. The Russian Bear has been the symbol of the country since the 16th century. So we have to believe that the Russian security services set up top secret hacking groups identifying themselves as “Cozy Bear” and “Fancy Bear”. Whereas no doubt the NSA fronts its hacking operations by a group brilliantly disguised as “The Flaming Bald Eagles”, GCHQ doubtless hides behind “Three Lions on a Keyboard” and the French use “Marianne Snoops”.’

    • Conal 1.1

      Yes, funny, but to be fair, the names “Cozy Bear” and “Fancy Bear” are code names made up by the IT security firm who the DNC contracted to audit their security breaches. The naming scheme uses the “Bear” suffix to designate an apparently Russian group.

      No-one is saying the names are self-assigned by the hacker groups, though of course in the breathless media reports denouncing Russian interference in the US political system, this kind of detail is usually omitted.

      • That in itself should be an alarm bell – if you’re supposed to be investigating a group’s origin, but you’ve already essentially decided they’re Russian state sponsored or affiliated and named them after bears, then you’ve basically guaranteed that your investigation will fit that bill.

        Far more likely that the security firm have no idea who they are, but if they can brand themselves as the group which ‘busted’ Russia, rather than the group that cleaned up the mess after the DNC got done over by script kiddies from Iowa, then the contracts you receive in the future will be far, far more lucrative.

        • Andre 1.1.1.1

          As I understand it, Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear were given those names by security researchers long before the DNC hacks were investigated.

          https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jul/29/cozy-bear-fancy-bear-russia-hack-dnc

        • Conal 1.1.1.2

          The two “Bear” groups identified by CrowdStrike in the DNC case were not new, and had already been designated “Russian” based on analysis of their earlier operations.

          These hacking groups are known as “Advanced Persistent Threats” in the IT security industry. “Advanced” because they have technical chops, and “Persistent” because observers believe that they can recognise the same actors again and again in different situations, on the basis of the hacking methods that they may reuse from time to time. This makes plenty of sense, in principle, though of course it’s not foolproof, because their “tradecraft” or hacking methods (and particular the malware used) are tradeable items; they can be passed from one agent to another, and even stolen by adversary agencies and reused. Hacking tools belonging to an APT called “the Equation Group” (apparently part of the NSA) were scandalously leaked online in August this year. That kind of leak would make it harder to distinguish attacks made by the Equation Group from attacks by other groups using their tools.

          I don’t know enough about these APTs and the CrowdStrike investigation to know how much confidence one can put on their correct identification of the APTs in this case, or on their identification of the APTs with particular Russian intelligence agencies, or on the assertion that Putin himself must have ordered it because the targets were so important, or that the emails which WikiLeaks published actually came from these sources (rather than a whistle-blower), but going through that list of unknowns I think you’d be less and less confident of each one.

      • Psycho Milt 1.1.2

        Yes, funny, but to be fair, the names “Cozy Bear” and “Fancy Bear” are code names made up by the IT security firm who the DNC contracted to audit their security breaches. The naming scheme uses the “Bear” suffix to designate an apparently Russian group.

        Yes, and that ought to have been obvious to Murray for the same reason it isn’t the Russians who give their planes names like Badger and Frogfoot. He doesn’t seem like someone who should be taken seriously.

    • JonL 1.2

      Putin was NOT KGB chief – he was a mid-level Intelligence officer with the rank of Lt Colonel when he left the KGB after 16 yrs in 1991 to enter politics!
      He was , however, director of the FSB for 13 months, 1998-99
      Now George Bush Snr was head of the CIA……….

      • I was quoting Murray’s statement as an example of his excellent sarcasm. But you are correct that often his KGB credentials are talked up to make him sound more of a villain or badass.

        Bush Snr. must have some dark stuff floating around in what’s left of his 92 year old grey matter from the Zapata Oil days.

  2. Bill 2

    It’s a kind of moot point now given the acres of newsprint that’s been devoted to people who can fairly be described as neo-McCarthyites.

    There’s was no need to be any kind of web geek, or to be in the least bit net savvy to understand that a complete lack of named sources should be a descending rubber stamp engraved with the word BULLSHIT! stamped on all the vacuous articles that claimed Russia had spread nefarious tentacles.

    But it’s ‘mission achieved’. The Ruskies are baddies. The Ruskies back Trump. The Ruskies stole US democracy. The Ruskies are out to destroy German democracy. The Ruskies, basically, is out to get you they is.

    And no amount of retrospective analysis as to the veracity of claims made by anonymous people apparently hailing from nebulous western intelligence agencies, and that liberal media outlets gleefully ran with, will change that for those who bought into it.

    One thing maybe worth noting is that, like Syria, the comments below articles of outlets that still leave their comments sections open brim with skepticism and outright dismissal/rejection of said outlet’s breathless reporting of ‘official’ lines.

    (And the liberal establishment wonders where it has all gone wrong 🙄 )

    • One thing maybe worth noting is that, like Syria, the comments below articles of outlets that still leave their comments sections open brim with skepticism and outright dismissal/rejection…

      Funny you should mention that, seeing as Putin also runs an extensive and vigorous troll army…

    • philj 2.2

      +1 Bill
      What is the difference between ‘Fake News’ and good old fashioned propaganda? You don’t hear the term propaganda much these days. At least you can put BS on your rhubarb. Cheers.

      • JonL 2.2.1

        ” good old fashioned propaganda?”
        Most of the MSM around the world these days……..especially if it brushes against Murdoch and his cronies…..

  3. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    The fact that counter-narratives emerge is evidence of nothing.

    Knowing how US foreign policy works, who wouldn’t want to give them a dose of their own medicine?

  4. philj 4

    Copy of email sent to Kim Hill on Saturday Mornings interview with Charles Lane, arch propagandist, re. Russian hacking and US election

    Bold type is my highlighting

    LANE ( re. supposed Russian ‘hacking’ ) : “Just going by what we read in the press …”
    ” Intel source cited by reports ….. seems to say…”

    KIM ” Hillary believes Russia’s hacking …. cost her the election ”

    No questioning of whether there is any proof that:

    1. There was any hacking
    2. It was Russian

    This interview accepts the assumption that both are true. Yet no proof or hard evidence is asked for or offered.

    The New York Times says Wikileaks is ” becoming a de facto instrument of Russian Intelligence ”

    LANE: ” The best anyone can determine …”
    ” They seem to have intervened … ”
    ” Channeled apparently by Russian Intelligence ”
    ” Trump openly sympathized with Putin…. the most pro Russian President since WW 2 ”
    ” Certainly the objective of Trump is to move closer to Russia ”

    Kim could have asked Mr Lane what he thought about the possibility of a closer USA/Russia relationship.

    ME: Could Mr Lane have been asked for, or provided any actual proof or evidence of his assertion of Russian hacking? Hearsay from US Intelligence isn’t factual proof.

    KIM: ” The CIA says Russia intervened in the election … Intel chiefs agreed on this. This is quite damming, isn’t it? ”

    ME: Is this the same intelligence agencies that informed the world about Iraq’s weapons of mass distraction? How ‘mistaken’ that has proven to be.

    LANE: ” There was some debate within the Intelligence community …” ???

    This begs the question.

    What was debate was about?
    Was the hacking real?
    Apparently so. We are all talking about it.
    This is all smoke and mirrors.
    One needs to beware of PR spin, smooth talkers and the BS that is promoted in this murky field.

    Charles Lane concludes:-

    ” …. best guess they ( US intelligence agencies ) are telling the truth … Democracies were not intended to be run on the basis of what we are told by secret ( US Government ) agencies”

    Are you saying, Mr Lane, that the USA Government is currently running on such a basis of secrecy?
    Mr Lane is an “opinion writer” and a regular on Fox TV. He is not a coherent analyst, more a ‘talking point’ salesman masquerading as an obscurantist obsfucationalist!

    I have little regard for the quality of this smooth talker’s opinions. Goodness, he even admits he never thought Trump could win and is trying to blame The Russians for the loss! He is of the establishment and couldn’t even see the growing desperation of an increasing number of fellow Americans under his nose whilst blinded from seeing the real reasons for The Democratic Party’s electoral failure.

    There are far more knowledgeable people which would bring greater insight at these interesting times. There are plenty if you wish to find them. Hint: They are not on Fox TV. They are the folk who got it all wrong. More NZ commentary from our own academics would be a better idea, in my view.

    We live a Post Truth world awash with media which is struggling to sort the Truth from the Fake. RNZ is essential for producing the highest quality of journalism and broadcasting. The public good and our democracy depends on it.

    N.B. The bold type has not copied from the original. You will have to imagine it.
    Cheers and solace.
    Philg

  5. KJT 6

    “Nothing to hide. Nothing to fear”.

  6. KJT 7

    Actually. Anecdotal evidence says it is a pair of New Zealand high school children.

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