Information operations · Russia · cyberwar · Information Warfare

World’s First Cyberwar Probably A Case Of “He Said, She Said”

In this article, please note the Russian sources for both the RIA and TASS articles.  

“Russian news agencies cited an unnamed security source as saying…”

The NYT’s article, stating that the US has attacked  Russian infrastructure, only cited anonymous sources.  

Here are a few things to note when reading these type articles

  • Anonymous, unnamed sources, senior officials, insiders, declining to be named…  
  • The operations are all highly classified
  • The tools being used are all highly classified
  • The capabilities of the tools used, how they are used, and the targets they are used against are all highly classified

These all point to a William-Randolph Hearst Yellow Journalism-type article.  “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”

As long as no official goes on record, we will only have a war of words.  

Unconfirmed questions and shall remain that way, from either side:

  1. Did the US “attack” Russian infrastructure?
  2. What tools were inserted in Russian infrastructure?
  3. Where were the tools inserted in Russian infrastructure?
  4. How did the Russians discover these tools, exactly?
  5. How did the Russians document these tools?  Capabilities, target? 
  6. How did Russia differentiate between these “US intelligence” tools, rogue hacker tools, script kiddies, other state-controlled hackers, and mercenary hackers (hackers for hire)?  How did they identify the code as originating from US intelligence and not somebody else?

I have no doubt the US inserted tools into the Russian infrastructure, that has been done since the dawn of cyber.  What I do doubt, however, is Russia discovering US intelligence tools inserted into Russian infrastructure.  There is this big pot of code available on the dark web where snippets of code are available for purchase, don’t you think this ‘covered’ code would be used as assuredly anonymous?

This may be the FIRST State-on-State cyberwar between two cyber-superpowers.  It is, however, a case of “he said, she said”.  The first was an uncited article by the New York Times. The response was an article in two Russian propaganda rags citing unnamed Russian sources. Nobody is documenting anything. Nobody is showing us logs, code, date/time groups,  or signatures.  In the case of Russia, however, anything shared may be compared with the alternate reality evidence of MH-17.  

The truth, the reality, the proof, will remain hyper-classified until hell freezes over.  We will never be privy to the “real deal”. 

Expect blather from Russia, expect obfuscation from US officials. 

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Reuters: Russia thwarts U.S. cyber attacks on its infrastructure: news agencies

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has uncovered and thwarted attempts by the United States to carry out cyber attacks on the control systems of Russian infrastructure, Russian news agencies cited an unnamed security source as saying on Monday.

The disclosure was made on Russia’s RIA and TASS news agencies days after the New York Times cited unnamed government sources as saying that the United States had inserted potentially disruptive computer code into Russia’s power grid as part of a more aggressive deployment of its cyber tools.

The newspaper suggested President Donald Trump had not been informed of the intrusions. Trump, without providing evidence, said on Twitter that the article was not true.

The Kremlin had said earlier on Monday that the U.S. newspaper report was worrying and showed that a cyber war was, in theory, possible.

“We see and note such attempts,” the Russian security source was quoted as saying in response to the report. “However, we manage to neutralize these actions.”

Foreign intelligence services have stepped up cyber attacks against Russia in recent years and are targeting mainly transport, banking and energy infrastructure, the source told TASS and RIA.

Russia-U.S. relations are at post-Cold War lows, strained in particular by U.S. allegations that Moscow hacked and meddled in order to tilt the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor. Moscow denies those allegations.

When asked about the New York Times report earlier on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “…Undoubtedly this information shows the hypothetical possibility… and all signs of cyber war and military cyber action against the Russian Federation.”

Peskov said unnamed strategic parts of the Russian economy had endured foreign cyber attacks many times in the past and that the authorities were constantly working to try to keep the economy and what he called sensitive parts of its safe.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Andrey Kuzmin; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Osborn


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