Facts of Life: Russians interfering with our election? It’s happening again

As Robert Mueller said, in his appearance before the House…

Robert S. Mueller III offered no new revelations on Wednesday into Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections or President Trump’s attempts to derail his probe. But he offered a stark warning on Russian election tampering — “They’re doing it as we sit here” — and a sober assessment of where politics are after the Trump campaign welcomed foreign interference in 2016.

“I hope this is not the new normal,” he told Representative Peter D. Welch, Democrat of Vermont,“but I fear it is.”

–From the New York Times, July 24, 2019, with my bolding.

Today, Wired reports that the same Russian intelligence agency that interfered with our 2016 election is doing it again. Indeed, it has continued doing it.

Here are Wired’s first two paragraphs:

Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency has carried out many of the most aggressive acts of hacking in history: destructive worms, blackouts, and—closest to home for Americans—a broad hacking-and-leaking operation designed to influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election. Now it appears the GRU has been hitting US networks again, in a series of previously unreported intrusions that targeted organizations ranging from government agencies to critical infrastructure.

From December 2018 until at least May of this year, the GRU hacker group known as APT28 or Fancy Bear carried out a broad hacking campaign against US targets, according to an FBI notification sent to victims of the breaches in May and obtained by WIRED. According to the FBI, the GRU hackers primarily attempted to break into victims’ mail servers, Microsoft Office 365 and email accounts, and VPN servers. The targets included “a wide range of US-based organizations, state and federal government agencies, and educational institutions,” the FBI notification states. And technical breadcrumbs included in that notice reveal that APT28 hackers have targeted the US energy sector, too, apparently as part of the same effort.

My book, How I Learned The Facts of Life, is a manual for making sure the news you get is factual, as well as identifying fake news.

Fake news almost always appears on social media, not mainstream media. Once you know how to spot it, you can toss it into the garbage can.

GRU is still targeting email accounts and servers, with the intention of leaking them. Here’s what I’ve written about the email leak scandal that the Russians, with the cooperation of Julian Assange and his Wikileaks, engineered during the 2016 campaign:

The vicious effect of the email dumps floored me. I read through many of those emails; there was nothing much in them – certainly no wicked doings. They were simply ordinary email natter among various Democratic Party officials. Why the cry “Her emails!” became an accepted accusation of…something or other, I could only understand by supposing people who bought into this nonsense didn’t read, and didn’t want to. Especially because the hacked and published emails were not Hillary Clinton’s.

Of all the emails I read, I did pay special attention to John Podesta’s recipe for risotto, because I make risotto myself. I prefer the way I make it. This is probably a scandal, in light of which I hereby announce I will never run for office.

Moreover, some of those leaked emails were phonies, so even if the Russians can’t get into email accounts, they can say they did and “leak” made-up stuff.

Here’s how to brace yourselves for what might happen in the next few months:

First. Don’t listen to any gloating outcry if Democratic Party and/or Joe Biden’s campaign emails are hacked and leaked. Read the emails. With that caveat about phony emails, there will be nothing there. (Except maybe another recipe for risotto.)

Second. If you are important — or want to feel you’re important — set your email spamblocker at the highest level. You’ll get daily rundowns of those emails but unless you open them in great curiosity to learn who on earth might be emailing you from Russia, you won’t be invaded by malware or spyware.

In case you think I’m teasing about the Russian emails, I get them every day — in my email spamblocker and on my blog. (Indeed, my blog statistics say 4 percent of my monthly average hits of around 350,000 is from the Russian Federation. More peculiar, 13 percent is from Romania. Didn’t those GRU hackers hang out in Romania?)

My anti-hack technique is so successful, my brother said my online presence is really difficult to get messages to.

This is good.

As to the Russian attempts to hack our energy section, I don’t know what to do. Candles?

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