Why So Skeptical?


Beginning of Spring, by Ivan Yendogurov, 1890. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

There is a great deal of skepticism about whether the Russians actually hacked anything to do with the election of our President-Elect Donald Trump, aside from the Clinton E-mails, which is insane, as that was the hacking, and the Russians did it.  Much of that skepticism is based not in reality but on commonly held biases that blind us to reality. People don’t want to believe, and seeing the seeds of doubt, decide to not believe… And there are alleged issues with the Joint Analysis Report. More on that later.

Before I do anything else though, I want to say this. I refuse to blame the Russians for Donald Trump winning the White House. That is thanks to the American people. Propaganda and hacking aside, it takes a conscious mind to vote for a person. The Russians did not, to my knowledge, hack election machines or fudge vote numbers in the Mr. Trump’s favor.

They fed Americans propaganda they wanted to hear, and twisted hearts and minds. And people ate it up.

What I do say is that Russia has a large and effective propaganda and hacking machine that uses several groups of hackers to steal information, and use it to the advantage of the Russian federation, under whose umbrella they work.

You ask for proof that hacking happened, that they’re really there and not just some twisted liberal conspiracy? Have you read the actual email that gave the hackers access to John Podesta’s email?

I have.

Podesta (and possibly his IT guy) missed the obvious phishing scheme. Anyone worth his or her salt will throw up a red flag if they see a short link attached to a support message about any potential site issues, like a hacked password. I only say an IT guy may have been involved is that the link was clicked twice. Who opens an attachment twice? No one I know, and I know some pretty damned computer illiterate people.

And ladies and gentlemen, that is how hacking happens. First they get in, find a back door, or convince you to open the front door, then they rob you blind.


If we gather more and more data and establish more and more associations, however, we will not finally find that we know something. We will simply end up having more and more data and larger sets of correlations. ~ Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics, 1979


Now, onto the Joint analysis report. It has been widely panned as off the mark. Why?Well, the report included both ‘general and unrelated malware family names’ as well as a ‘broad and non-descriptive classification of capabilities’ in a list they titled “Alternate names” On page four of the thirteen page report.

The title “alternate names” itself  is itself a bit of a giveaway as to what the government is trying to do here. It is simply a list of names to look out for when dealing with Russian hackers. The experts that are up in arms seem to have missed that rather general point. They weren’t breaking it down that precisely. If they had, they would have made the point of saying so.

The list has as a header List of Russian Military and Civilian Intelligence services.

Where in that name do you see anything about a specific breakdown into groupings of intelligence services, malware they used, or may have used in the past? I see none. The critique, while well intentioned, is misguided.

The rest of the report after that has nothing to do with Russian hackers. Nothing. The entirely of the remainder of the report is there to assist in what actions should be taken using the listed indicators including giving advice on how to better secure systems and threat mitigation strategies.

Oh and the first page of the report is a description of the report. Meaning the report itself, the pertinent information on hacking, is three pages long.

The report is not meant to be anything more than:1) a threat assessment of Russian hacking capabilities, 2)a short statement on known activities, 3) a list of names to look for, and 4) Basic steps to increase Cyber-Security.

The report has been called a technical exposé of Russian hacking.

It isn’t.

 This is an exposé of Russian hacking.

That government report is coming.

News here as it develops.