Russian "Cyber Warfare"—Is It Real or Is It an Excuse by the Democrats?
The notion of a foreign government hacking into key United States owned resources or agencies to gather intelligence for nefarious reasons is always a possibility, and in fact does happen. It's no secret that many government agencies work with antiquated computer systems, which may or may not be as secure as they think. Many IT employees are chosen for their political leanings first and their skill set second; opening up another potential area of vulnerability. With so much of the nation's secrets being stored on a computer somewhere, there certainly is the incentive for an outside nation to make an attempt at hacking us or any other world power, where similar protocols are occurring. History shows us that our nation has been attacked electronically many times, with most of the successful incursions happening under the watch of President Obama.
Cyber Attacks Under President Obama
In 2015, hackers entered the electronic White House archives, stealing contacts and e-mails from the President and other key officials. Nothing classified was reported as being taken. The IRS was also hacked in 2015, with tax return information for over 100,000 citizens being stolen. Another attack came in July 2015, this time it was the Joint Chiefs of Staff e-mail system. The system served 4,000 mostly military personnel who served on the staff and was unclassified. Officials after investigating the sophisticated techniques used deemed it must have been sponsored by a foreign government. News agencies made a connection to Russia. The Chinese were blamed for a hack on the Office of Personnel Management, reported in July, 2015. In this instance, 22.1 million government had their personal information lifted from government servers. This included social security numbers and other key information that applicants for security clearances provided.
The State Department's unclassified e-mail system was hacked in the fall of 2014, as well as the White House. This attack was very sophisticated and required all hands on deck to battle the hackers. For months, despite the combined efforts of NSA technical workers, outside contractors, and a number of other agencies assisting, the hacking tools used could not be evicted from the system. Little has been said publically about the incident since then formally. Informally, Secretary of State John Kerry has been quoted as saying he thinks the Russians and Chinese regularly read his e-mail. No nation or individual has been identified as the hacker. Also in 2014, the Army Corps of Engineers had sensitive information lifted dealing with the 85,000 dams located across the nation. This data included size, age, maintenance records, and the scenarios developed in case of the dams being breached. Also in 2014, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was said to have been breeched by Chinese hackers but the details on why a foreign nation would attack the government weather network have been thin.
Other hacks in 2014 include the US Postal Service, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was successfully hacked three separate times in recent years using tainted e-mails. At least two of the attacks are confirmed as coming from outside the country. Additionally 17 other suspected breaches came in the years 2010-2013.
In 2013, the State Department was breeched with the addresses of 170 employees being publically released. The global group known as Anonymous took credit for the breech, merely demonstrating their power. Also in 2013, the Department of Energy was breeched with the personal data of over 100,000 people being compromised. This data contained financial information, social security data, and home addresses; the department was forced to spend nearly $4 million dollars on credit monitoring services for those compromised after the fact. In 2013 alone, the Federal Government was victimized by over 61,000 cyber attacks or security breaches.
Government Hacks Prior to the Obama Administration
The examples of past hacks made on government computer systems can easily demonstrate that it can and has been done. In a smaller and less-known hack that took place in 2006, hackers again breeched the State Department. In this breech, the hackers were alleged to have stolen sensitive intelligence information and log-on information. They also tried to load code which would open secret backdoors for future incursions. They exploited a design flaw in the Microsoft coding which was accessed when a State Department staffer working in Asia opened a mysterious e-mail. In June 2007, the US Secretary of Defense’s unclassified email account was hacked by unknown foreign intruders as part of a larger series of attacks to access and exploit the Pentagon's networks.
In mid-2008, The databases of both Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns were hacked and downloaded by unknown foreign intruders. This incursion looks eerily similar to the events that took place earlier this year, expect in those cases, the attack into the DNC succeeded while the attack made on the RNC was blocked by stronger security software.
Inside Jobs Are Not Hacks
In addition to the hacks, there have been many instances of data thefts in what are commonly known as inside jobs. The media has a tendency to add these to the list of known security breaches, attempting to create a larger than life narrative about poor electronic security.
In 2010, a junior military intelligence worker, Private Bradley Manning, while stationed in Iraq, illegally downloaded 250,000 State Department cables. Manning turned these over to WikiLeaks, who then unfortunately released them to the public. Manning was subsequently arrested and is now serving time in a Military detention facility. Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee and computer expert stole thousands of classified documents in 2013, which were partially disclosed to the public. Snowden is now living in asylum somewhere in Russia. Another contractor for the same company as Snowden worked for was also quietly arrested in August, 2016 for stealing classified information.
In all three of these cases, there was no hacking of any systems. These three individuals had access to the data and they made a conscious decision to steal it; something which could easily occur in any company or government office.
Where Is the Evidence?
In the recent election cycle, information was being distributed almost daily, which contained leaked e-mails and documents that were very unfavorable and embarrassing for the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton. In October, prior to the election, a statement was made which basically accused the Russians of being behind all the different hacks, attacks, and data thefts. The stance from the White House is that 17 US government agencies all concurred that the hackings originated in Russia. This is about as believable as the narrative that all climate scientists agree that global warming is caused by mankind. When we look deeper into the 17 agencies, what we see is that the 17 is actually 2. The United States Intelligence Community is made of 16 agencies which all work together, so in effect, the one answer is being exploited for the sake of a bigger appearance. The other is the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The 16 agencies in the USIC list are comprised of the CIA, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard Intelligence, the Department of Energy, State, Homeland Security, Treasury, the DEA, NSA, the National Reconnaissance Office, the FBI, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. These are all agencies that the President has influence over.
WikiLeaks founder and leader, Julian Assange has already said multiple times that the information he published came from an insider who was part of the Democratic National Commission; the mystery informant was unhappy at how Bernie Sanders was railroaded by the DNC and decided to show the world how corrupt they were. Marcel Lazăr Lehel the hacker known as Guccifer is Romanian and his exploits are widely known and documented. His efforts were unproductive in the big scheme of things.
So What Are We to Think?
If we start looking at all of the leaks and so-called hacks that took place before the elections, there really is no concrete evidence that the Russian government had any involvement. It's to the point that even Russian President Putin is demanding proof. We know that Guccifer has already admitted to being a participant, but he's not employed by the Russian state. We also know that rumors have surfaced over the years about similar hacking events in other nations, usually to influence opinions on certain matters. Some of those delicate topics did include Russian activities. These are the facts that American Intelligence agencies are using to thread this accusation together. The White House is trying to say that all the included agencies came to the same conclusions alone, without collusion.
The Democrats in the Obama administration and their political cronies in the media are in a tight spot right now, as a false accusation could lead America into another cold war type of relationship with Russia. The evidence doesn't support anything other than an attempt to discredit President-elect Trump's victory. It's now beginning to look like the Democrat's master plan is to try and push America to the brink of war with Russia in an attempt to derail the rebuilding of the nation. A successful Presidency by Trump, especially if he's able to do all the things he is planning, would permanently ruin the Democratic brand.
A Brief History of Cyber Attacks - NATO Review
- The history of cyber attacks - a timeline
NATO Review's timeline on cyber attacks shows the history - and seriousness - of attacks since they began in the 1980s.
- WikiLeaks Fast Facts - CNN.com
WikiLeaks has been publishing leaked e-mails and other data for over a decade and has not shown bias toward any particular cause. A fairly complete timeline of what was leaked and who was involved is detailed in this CNN Library piece.