Not too many years ago I was running a small conference and our website was hacked. “Oh, no” said my boss, “this is terrible, what are we going to do?”
“Not to worry, boss. We just need to contact the folks who host our website and ask them to reload the tapes. It should be back up in a couple of hours, at most. ”
But I was already reading the tea leaves, wondering about the impact of what had happened, and, more important, why. Why would somebody want to hack a website for a conference about information operations, information warfare, public diplomacy, hacking, electronic warfare, where a Chinese delegation was going to attend and where all the shadowy figures of military and government influence were going to meet? Why? The better question was probably, why not?
The first answer, and I’m sure this was their primary motivation, was for the lulz. Meaning, LOLs or Lots of Laughs – for the thrill of it. Take a screen capture and show all your friends, this is what I did. Look how good I am! In the big scheme, that’s kids stuff, but that’s okay with me. All they did was to find a website on a host, who hadn’t put the latest updates in place and was vulnerable to a simple exploit. A hack. They got in, replaced only the homepage with something else, in this case a page claiming the Turkish Hackers Group had defaced the page, sat back and watched.
More important, however, was the fact that they looked at this website in the first place. This website was drawing attention, and that, to me, was a good thing. It was exactly the kind of people I wanted to look at my website, it was attracting the kind of attention I wanted. Life was good, I felt validated.
Fast forward to yesterday, March 26th, 2014. In the past several weeks this blog has attracted attention from Russian and pro-Russian activists. I’ve also been personally interacting with them on various Special Interest Groups on LinkedIn, Facebook and other places. I’ve engaged them in conversation, especially when I don’t understand what they are saying. For instance, “who” is the Fourth Reich they are referring to? I found out it meant Germany within their circles. Who is this “Third Carthage”? I still don’t know but it doesn’t bother me that much. I also found they understand and use basic tactics in a field called argumentation. In college this would come from a course on debate, on logic arguments or persuasion. Their favorite tactic is called a “Red Herring”, where they don’t argue the point, but attempt to divert the entire conversation towards a place where they believe they can win. A win over here, to them, means you also lost over there. Strange. Eventually word must have spread that I have a blog where I occasionally discuss topics like Russian Information Warfare.
So the comments began. Oh, dear reader, you have no idea. I keep most comments on the pages but in the past few days I’ve received a lot of comments and most of the commenters were randomly spewing crap. In the words of my 11th grade math teacher, QED. Quite Easily Done. I’d mark the comment spam and *poof* the nasty comment would go away.
This means, to me, that someone in Russia is listening. I have a feeling I know who. Thanks for the validation, maybe you’re actually thinking about the BS you’re constantly posting and that the world sees how silly it is!