There’s good reason for Americans to think that the Russians interfered with the 2016 presidential election. Evidence shows that Russian hackers gained entry into the email accounts of Democratic Party members, invading the privacy of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton by blowing past her VPN. Unfortunately, the evidence collected by the country’s intelligence agencies may not be enough to bring an indictment against Russia for damaging America’s democracy.
So, What Evidence Do We Have?
America’s intelligence departments have determined how Russian hackers executed the crime and maybe even the language that they used when committing it. It’s possible that Russian officials gave the order to hack the DNC, but the denouncement of the country’s involvement by major American political players has occurred with great frequency and intensity. Because of this, it’s become easy for the public to overlook the incident.
Strong evidence exists that phishing messages were the chosen tool for violating the Democratic Party’s email accounts. Along with the phishing messages, another indicator of foul play by the Russians is that signature malware made its way across DNC computer systems. Additional evidence indicates that the DNC attack was carried out by the same group that intelligence agencies spotted going after other victims in the past. However, these government agencies are stymied from taking action because definitive proof that the hackers are a part of the Russian government or employed by it remains elusive.
Chinks in the Armor
Questions about the evidence are coming from the fact that CrowdStrike is making the claim that the Russians are responsible for the hack job. CrowdStrike is a private security firm that the DNC hired. Along with where the organization’s paycheck is coming from, it’s also important to note that it’s extremely rare for crime evidence to be collected on the victim’s dime. If the United States takes action and officially accuses the Russian government of meddling in our country’s presidential election, which could quickly turn into an act of war, then America’s intelligence community better have the evidence to prove it. Assumptions and guesses could turn a bad situation into a life or death one for many people.
A recent report also shows that this same hacking group went after Ukrainian artillery units during a two-year period. America’s intelligence community may be able to use this recent information to increase its evidence against Russia. According to the Ukrainian report, the hackers gained access to the weaponry’s communications and geolocations, meaning that the artillery was vulnerable to destruction.
Russia appears to be using hacking techniques and cyberattacks for foreign policy and war. If Russia deployed the Ukrainian attack, then the country decided to send its cyber team to the battlefield’s frontlines. During a war that began in the spring of 2014, Russia backed separatists that were fighting the Ukraine with military and logistical support. To do so, Russia cyber experts created an app that could be used with the D-30 122 mm towed howitzer, which is an artillery weapon manufactured by the Soviet. According to the report, the app decreased the weapon’s firing times from minutes to seconds. However, it seems as though hackers infected the app with a Trojan.
What is the Case Against Russia?
The case against Russia is that the person or group who breached the DNC’s email network and John Podesta’s account left clues behind indicating the country’s involvement. The entity that initially shared material hacked from the DNC, Guccifer 2.0, has published statements and made decisions that point to a Russian connection. Along with this, DCLeaks, which is the site that posted a large amount of the Democratic Party’s emails, seems to be linked to Guccifer and maybe even to Russia. There’s also WikiLeaks. Julian Assange has been extremely vocal in his attachment to Vladimir Putin and his irrational contempt for Hillary Clinton.
Despite the numerous links and connections, the public can’t overlook the many qualifying words that accompany the accusations. For instance, every report includes words like indicate, appears, seems and possible when describing the hacking incidents. The current evidence makes it impossible to present the proof that Russia is responsible for the hack without using these kinds of qualifiers.
It’s true that qualifying words remain a part of the conversation when it comes to the Russians hacking America. However, research shows that the Ukrainian armed forces lost 50 percent of all of its weaponry. Of that loss, 80 percent of it was the D-30 howitzers. Research also shows that Russia attacked the Ukraine from within its own territory while sending troops and weapons across the border. Russia continues to deny that it played a major role in the conflict.
Could the United States Have Prevented the Russian Hack Job?
While the DNC’s security departments surely employ the use of VPNs for extra privacy and security, the agency clearly needed to use additional measures to keep its system out of the prying eyes of Russian hacking operatives. As with other matters of security, government protection agencies missed signals, underestimated the seriousness of the attack and were slow to respond, meaning that America’s best chance at putting a stop to the Russians interfering with the election was lost.
Because the FBI took a toned-down approach to the hacking situation, Russian operatives were able to roam leisurely through the DNC’s network for almost seven months before the party’s top officials received notification of the attack. Once they were alerted, DNC officials hired cyber professionals to defend their systems, causing Russian hackers to shift their focus to targets outside of the DNC such as to John D. Podesta’s private email account. Podesta is Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.
The Need for Real Evidence
By failing to comprehend the scope of Russia’s hacking attacks, the U.S. was less able to minimize the effects of the criminal action. Before Trump and his inclination to sweep Russia’s election influence under the rug takes office, America needs real evidence against Russia if the majority of the public is to believe that the United States intelligence community is right about the 2016 presidential race. The integrity of future elections is critical to America’s survival. It’s time for the CIA and the FBI to step up their game and show the public what Russia is up to.