If Russia hacked the DNC? What me worry?

Did Russia hack the DNC, DCCC, and Hillary’s Campaign.  And does it only matter who the hackers are?

This has been quite a week with for hackers and the media coverage of hacks.  With little disclosed evidence, the prime story has been the question of who hacked the sites.  That is an important aspect of the news, yet there are other important issues obscured, perhaps intentionally by the focus on that one aspect of the hacks.  Less covered are:

  • The unfair, perhaps illegal, conduct of the DNC disclosed in the emails and voice mails.
  • The possibility that elections themselves can be manipulated directly through changing results, messing with registration systems etc.
  • Is Wikileaks extra guilty for disclosing the information when they did?  Should they have held it until after the election, like the NYTimes did with James Risen’s story of a failed CIA operation?
  • Should we feel safer if the hacks are not from the Russian government, and are actually the work of foreign amateurs? Domestic amateurs? Republicans?  Business interests?  Israel? China? The CIA? The NSA?  Political Insiders? or Vendor Insiders? Which group, if any, would you rather have manipulate our elections?
  • Would we be safer if the perpetrator(s) kept the information secret?  Why would that be preferred?  What if Trump had secret information on Hillary or her campaign?  What if Democrats or their supporters have hacked similar information on Trump or the Republicans and are not disclosing it? The information disclosed obviously hurts the DNC, yet other information could be more valuable to opponents, if it were not disclosed.
  • In whose interest is the disclosure of the information? In whose interest is blaming the attack on Russia?
  • In whose interest is focusing only on determining the perpetrators? Obviously those exposed by the emails and the actual perpetrators, if not Russia.

Some articles to consider.  Bruce Schnier in the Washington Post: By November, Russian hackers could target voting machines <read>

The political nature of this cyberattack means that Democrats and Republicans are trying to spin this as much as possible. Even so,  we have to accept that someone is attacking our nation’s computer systems in an apparent attempt to influence a presidential election. This kind of cyberattack targets the very core of our democratic process. And it points to the possibility of an even worse problem in November —  that our election systems and our voting machines could be vulnerable to a similar attack.

From The Conversation by Richard Forno: How vulnerable to hacking is the US election cyber infrastructure? <read>

Of course, the desire to interfere with another country’s internal political processes is nothing new. Global powers routinely monitor their adversaries and, when deemed necessary, will try to clandestinely undermine or influence foreign domestic politics to their own benefit. For example, the Soviet Union’s foreign intelligence service engaged in so-called “active measures” designed to influence Western opinion. Among other efforts, it spread conspiracy theories about government officials and fabricated documents intended to exploit the social tensions of the 1960s. Similarly, U.S. intelligence services have conducted their own secret activities against foreign political systems – perhaps most notably its repeated attempts to help overthrow pro-communist Fidel Castro in Cuba…

One of the most obvious, direct ways to affect a country’s election is to interfere with the way citizens actually cast votes. As the United States (and other nations) embrace electronic voting, it must take steps to ensure the security – and more importantly, the trustworthiness – of the systems. Not doing so can endanger a nation’s domestic democratic will and create general political discord – a situation that can be exploited by an adversary for its own purposes…

Democracies endure based not on the whims of a single ruler but the shared electoral responsibility of informed citizens who trust their government and its systems. That trust must not be broken by complacency, lack of resources or the intentional actions of a foreign power.





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