Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Voting machines in US 50 states aren't connected to the internet, per Vermont Sec. of State Jim Condos-NPR, All Things Considered, 2/19/18

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State voting machines are not connected to the internet. Therefore, no "election hacking," "attempted election hacking," "attempts to infiltrate," or "infiltration" of 2016 voting machines could possibly have taken place. If ISIS, Russia, or anyone else wants to "hack" an internet connected US entity in 2018 they can do so with top-secret NSA computer code US has used to break into foreign government networks. Since August 2016, NSA hacking software has been available on the internet. No surprise, since an NSA employee removed secret data for 16 years and no one noticed.

2/19/18, "States Seek To Prevent Election Hacking," wnyc.org, All Things Considered, produced by NPR and WNYC 

"NPR's Ari Shapiro speaks with Vermont Secretary of State and President-elect of the National Association of Secretaries of State Jim Condos, about state's efforts to protect elections from hacking. Feb 19, 2018"

NPR host: "America's intelligence agencies are urging officials from Washington to state capitols to get ready. They expect Russia to try to hack this year's midterms, just as it [allegedly] tried to infiltrate the 2016 elections."...
 
NPR host: "But when it comes to actual attempts to "hack into" voting machines, tell me about the steps Vermont is taking to prevent that from happening."

Jim Condos, Vt. Sec. of State: "First I want to be very, very clear. The vast majority of the states use similar but different machines. And none of those machines are connected to the internet." 

Mr. Condos notes that 100% security is not possible on any computer.

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Comment: Everyone agrees no computer is 100% safe. Simple solution: Election data such as voter roles, registration, etc., should be handled as they were before computers existed. The "cyber security industry" (hi, CrowdStrike) can make its trillions without massive US taxpayer handouts. 
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Added: US "hacking" tools, not those of ISIS or Russia, are most likely to be used against US targets in 2018. Since being placed on the internet in August 2016, stolen NSA hacking tools have already been used against US entities. Officials say an NSA insider most likely removed the data. The NSA and US government, not Russia, are proved to be the greatest danger to Americans. "NSA can't keep its most valuable data from being stolen, or as it appears in this case, being used against us."... 8/21/2016, Reuters...."United States intelligence agencies have rushed to create digital weapons that they cannot keep safe from adversaries or disable once they fall into the wrong hands." 6/28/17, NY Times 

 

In August 2016, a group called Shadow Brokers announced it was auctioning off highly classified National Security Agency hacking tools. Since then, NSA's finest cyber weapons have been used to attack US entities:

6/28/2017, "Hacks [using NSA weapons] Raise Fear Over N.S.A.’s Hold on Cyberweapons," NY Times,

"A series of escalating attacks using N.S.A. cyberweapons have hit hospitals, a nuclear site and American businesses. Now there is growing concern that United States intelligence agencies have rushed to create digital weapons that they cannot keep safe from adversaries or disable once they fall into the wrong hands.... 

Though the identities of the Shadow Brokers remain a mystery, former intelligence officials say there is no question from where the weapons came: a unit deep within the agency that was until recently called “Tailored Access Operations.”...

For the American spy agency, which has invested billions of [taxpayer] dollars developing an arsenal of weapons that have been used against the Iranian nuclear program, North Korea’s missile launches and Islamic State militants, what is unfolding across the world amounts to a digital nightmare. It was as if the Air Force lost some of its most sophisticated missiles and discovered an adversary was launching them against American allies — yet refused to respond, or even to acknowledge that the missiles were built for American use. 

Officials fret that the potential damage from the Shadow Brokers leaks could go much further, and the agency’s own weaponry could be used to destroy critical infrastructure in allied nations or in the United States....


In the past two months [2017], attackers have retrofitted the agency’s more recent weapons to steal credentials from American companies. Cybercriminals have used them to pilfer digital currency....

The [Tuesday, June 2017] attacks inflicted enormous collateral damage, taking down some 2,000 global targets in more than 65 countries, including Merck, the American drug giant, Maersk, the Danish shipping company, and Rosneft, the Russian state owned energy giant. The attack so crippled operations at a subsidiary of Federal Express that trading had to be briefly halted for FedEx stock....


Armed with the N.S.A.’s own tools, the limits are gone.

“We now have actors, like North Korea and segments of the Islamic State, who have access to N.S.A. tools who don’t care about economic and other ties between nation states,” said Jon Wellinghoff, the former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission."...

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Added: "
Even the arrest of whoever is responsible for the leaks may not end them."
 

11/12/2017, "Security Breach and Spilled Secrets Have Shaken the N.S.A. to Its Core," NY Times, Scott Shane, Nicole Perlroth, David E. Sanger 

"A serial leak of the agency’s cyberweapons has damaged morale, slowed intelligence operations and resulted in hacking attacks on businesses and civilians worldwide....

Current and former agency officials say the Shadow Brokers disclosures, which began in August 2016, have been catastrophic for the N.S.A., calling into question its ability to protect potent cyberweapons and its very value to national security. The agency regarded as the world’s leader in breaking into adversaries’ computer networks failed to protect its own.... 

The Snowden trauma led to the investment of millions of dollars in new technology and tougher rules to counter what the government calls the insider threat. But N.S.A. employees say that with thousands of employees pouring in and out of the gates, and the ability to store a library’s worth of data in a device that can fit on a key ring, it is impossible to prevent people from walking out with secrets.... 


Mr. Williams said it may be years before the “full fallout” of the Shadow Brokers breach is understood. Even the arrest of whoever is responsible for the leaks may not end them, he said — because the sophisticated perpetrators may have built a “dead man’s switch” to release all remaining files automatically upon their arrest.

“We’re obviously dealing with people who have operational security knowledge,” he said. “They have the whole law enforcement system and intelligence system after them. And they haven't been caught.""... 

"If that’s the case, it's one more reason to question the usefulness of an agency that secretly collects private information on millions of Americans but can't keep its most valuable data from being stolen, or as it appears in this case, being used against us."... (8/21/2016, Reuters)

(NY Times): "Long known mainly as an eavesdropping agency, the  



 

as an especially productive way to spy on foreign targets. The intelligence collection is often automated, with malware implants — computer code designed to find material of interest — left sitting on the targeted system for months or even years, sending files back to the N.S.A.

The same implant can be used for many purposes: to steal documents, tap into email, subtly change data or become the launching pad for an attack. T.A.O.’s most public success was an operation against Iran called Olympic Games, in which implants in the network of the Natanz nuclear plant caused centrifuges enriching uranium to self-destruct. The T.A.O. was also critical to attacks on the Islamic State and North Korea. 

It was this arsenal that the Shadow Brokers got hold of, and then began to release."...
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Additional Reuters source on NSA theft:

8/21/2016, "Commentary: Evidence points to another Snowden at the NSA," Reuters, James Bamford, commentary
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Added: First public awareness of massive NSA code breach was August 2016 with Shadow Brokers announcement though the theft may have occurred months before. Theft includes NSA code that enables malware to stay on systems for years undetected.

8/16/2016, "Shadow Brokers’ Leak Raises Alarming Question: Was the N.S.A. Hacked?" NY Times, David E. Sanger 

Print ed. August 17, 2016, Page A1 of New York ed. with the headline: Top-Secret Code Released by Hackers Points to Breach at N.S.A.

"The release on websites this week of what appears to be top-secret computer code that the National Security Agency has used to break into the networks of foreign governments and other espionage targets has caused deep concern inside American intelligence agencies, raising the question of whether America’s own elite operatives have been hacked and their methods revealed. 

Most outside experts who examined the posts, by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers, said they contained what appeared to be genuine samples of the code--though somewhat outdated--used in the production of the N.S.A.’s custom-built malware.

Most of the code was designed to break through network firewalls and get inside the computer systems of competitors like Russia, China and Iran. That, in turn, allows the N.S.A. to place “implants” in the system, which can lurk unseen for years and be used to monitor network traffic or enable a debilitating computer attack. 

According to these experts, the coding resembled a series of “products” developed inside the N.S.A.’s highly classified Tailored Access Operations unit, some of which were described in general terms in documents stolen three years ago by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor now living in Russia. 

But the code does not appear to have come from Mr. Snowden’s archive, which was mostly composed of PowerPoint files and other documents that described N.S.A. programs. The documents released by Mr. Snowden and his associates contained no actual source code used to break into the networks of foreign powers.

Whoever obtained the source code apparently broke into either the top-secret, highly compartmentalized computer servers of the N.S.A. or other servers around the world that the agency would have used to store the files. The code that was published on Monday dates to mid-2013, when, after Mr. Snowden’s disclosures, the agency shuttered many of its existing servers and moved code to new ones as a security measure....

Around the same time, WikiLeaks declared that it had a full set of the files — it did not say how it had obtained them — and would release them all in the future. The “Shadow Brokers” had said they would auction them off to the highest bidder....

The N.S.A. would say nothing on Tuesday about whether the coding released was real or where it came from. Its public affairs office did not respond to inquiries.... 

There are other theories, including one that some unknown group was trying to impersonate hackers working for Russian or other intelligence agencies. Impersonation is relatively easy on the internet, and it could take considerable time to determine who is behind the release of the code.

The Shadow Brokers first emerged online on Saturday, creating accounts on sites like Twitter and Tumblr and announcing plans for an auction. The group said that “we give you some Equation Group files free” and that it would auction the best ones. The Equation Group is a code name that Kaspersky Labs, a Russian cybersecurity firm, has given to the N.S.A. 

While still widely considered the most talented group of state-sponsored hackers in the world, the N.S.A. is still recovering from Mr. Snowden’s disclosures; it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars reconfiguring and locking down its systems.

Mr. Snowden revealed plans, code names and some operations, including against targets like China. The Shadow Brokers disclosures are much more detailed, the actual code and instructions for breaking into foreign systems as of three summers ago.

“From an operational standpoint, this is not a catastrophic leak,” Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, Calif., wrote on the Lawfare blog on Tuesday. 

But he added that “the big picture is a far scarier one.” In the weeks after Mr. Snowden fled Hawaii, landing in Hong Kong before ultimately going to Russia, it appears that someone obtained that source code. That, he suggested, would be an even bigger security breach for the N.S.A. than Mr. Snowden’s departure with his trove of files.

However, the fact that the code is dated from 2013 suggests that the hackers’ access was cut off around then, perhaps because the agency imposed new security measures."...

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Added: NSA employee, Harold T. Martin III, removed classified NSA material, took it home for 16 years, and no one noticed. His home was finally raided on August 27, 2016. He's not believed to be connected to Shadow Brokers:

5/16/2017, "Malware Case Is Major Blow for the N.S.A.," NY Times, Scott Shane

Martin
"He has long held a high-level clearance and for a time worked with the N.S.A.’s premier hacking unit, called Tailored Access Operations, which breaks into the computer networks of foreign countries and which developed the hacking tools later obtained by the Shadow Brokers. According to one person briefed on the investigation, Mr. Martin was able to obtain some of the hacking tools by accessing a digital library of such material at the N.S.A....

Mr. Martin, an enigmatic loner who according to acquaintances frequently expressed his excitement about his role in the growing realm of cyberwarfare, has insisted that he got in the habit of taking material home so he could improve his skills and be better at his job, according to these officials. He has explained how he took the classified material but denied having knowingly passed it to anyone else....

The material the F.B.I. found in his possession added up to “many terabytes” of information, according to court papers, which would make it by far the largest unauthorized leak of classified material from the classified sector. That volume dwarfs the hundreds of thousands of N.S.A. documents taken by Edward J. Snowden in 2013 and exceeds even the more voluminous Panama Papers, leaked records of offshore companies obtained by a German newspaper in 2015, which totaled 2.6 terabytes. One terabyte of data is equal to the contents of about one million books.

F.B.I. agents on the case, advised by N.S.A. technical experts, do not believe Mr. Martin is fully cooperating, the officials say. He has spoken mainly through his lawyers, James Wyda and Deborah Boardman of the federal public defender’s office in Baltimore.... 

In interviews, officials described how the Martin case has deeply shaken the secret world of intelligence, from the N.S.A.’s sprawling campus at Fort Meade, Md., to the [Obama] White House. They expressed astonishment that Mr. Martin managed to take home such a vast collection of classified material over at least 16 years, undetected by security officers at his workplaces, including the N.S.A., the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Pentagon offices. And they are deeply concerned that some of the mountain of material may, by whatever route, have reached hackers or hostile intelligence services. 

Investigators discovered the hacking tools, consisting of computer code and instructions on how to use it, in the thousands of pages and dozens of computers and data storage devices that the F.B.I. seized during an Aug. 27 [2016] raid on Mr. Martin’s modest house in suburban Glen Burnie, Md. More secret material was found in a shed in his yard and in his car, officials said. 

The search came after the Shadow Brokers leak set off a panicked hunt at the N.S.A. Mr. Martin attracted the F.B.I.’s attention by posting something on the internet that was brought to the attention of the N.S.A. Whatever it was — officials are not saying exactly what — it finally set off an alarm. 

The release of the N.S.A.’s hacking tools, even though they dated to 2013, is extraordinarily damaging, said Dave Aitel, a former agency employee who now runs Immunity Inc., an information security company. 

“The damage from this release is huge, both to our ability to protect ourselves on the internet and our ability to provide intelligence to policy makers and the military,” Mr. Aitel said.

The N.S.A.’s hacking into other countries’ networks can be for defensive purposes: By identifying rivals’ own hacking methods, the agency can recognize and defend against them, he said. And other countries, with some of the N.S.A.’s tools now in hand, can study past hacks and identify the attacker as the N.S.A., learn how to block similar intrusions, or even decide to retaliate, Mr. Aitel said. 

Mr. Martin, 51, a Navy veteran who was completing a Ph.D. in information systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, has worked for several of the contracting companies that help staff the nation's security establishment. After stints at the Computer Sciences Corporation and Tenacity Solutions, where he was assigned to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, he joined Booz Allen Hamilton in 2009. He worked on that firm’s N.S.A. contract until 2015, when he was moved to a different Pentagon contract in the area of offensive cyberwarfare."...image from NY Times



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Florida school killer had key to gun safe his guardian didn't know about. "After Wednesday's shootings, he realized Mr. Cruz had an extra key"-Wall St. Journal

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2/19/18, "Family Who Housed Florida School Shooter Describes the Days Before the Attack," Wall St. Journal, Zolan Kanno-Youngs 

"The days before Nikolas Cruz allegedly opened fire in a high school in Parkland, Fla., were normal, said James Snead, the man who was housing the 19-year-old....

Mr. Cruz had lived with the Snead family for only a few months. Mr. Snead and his wife had invited Mr. Cruz, a friend of their son, to move in after his mother died in November.

Mr. Snead, a gun owner, said he required Mr. Cruz to follow house rules. He told Mr. Cruz that he would need his own gun safe for his firearms in order to live with the Sneads. Mr. Cruz owned “five or six guns,as well as pellet guns, and they were all bought legally, Mr. Snead said.

“He followed [the rules] to the T,” Mr. Snead said. Mr. Snead had what he thought was the only key to the safe, he said. After Wednesday’s shootings, he realized Mr. Cruz had an extra key.

He definitely had a key to the gun safe I didn’t know about, Mr. Snead said.

A Broward County sheriff spokeswoman said the investigation is ongoing and declined to comment further. The public defender’s office, which is representing Mr. Cruz, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Cruz faces 17 charges of premeditated murder for the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Since the killings, neighbors and classmates have described disturbing behavior by Mr. Cruz, including an obsession with weapons. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has said it didn’t follow up on a January tip about Mr. Cruz’s behavior. A former neighbor said she called the police two years ago after Mr. Cruz posted on social media that he wanted to shoot up a school."...









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Monday, February 19, 2018

Violent mobs assembled in wait to attack defenseless Trump ralliers 'promoted discord in the US and undermined confidence in democracy:' San Jose, Calif. police witnessed Trump supporters "running for their lives," attacked by violent mobs as they tried to walk to their cars after Trump rally, 6/2/2016. Victims were "punched, kicked, spit on and even robbed" of personal belongings. "It became inherently dangerous for anyone wearing a T-shirt or hat in support of Trump." Police didn't intervene "for fear for their own safety"-San Jose Mercury News, 6/8/2016

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6/8/2016, "Trump supporters were 'running for their lives' after San Jose rally, police report says," San Jose Mercury News, Mark Gomez

6/2/16, Running for his life amid parking garage ambush, photo Merc. News

"Two undercover police officers at a Donald Trump rally last week said they saw Trump supporters “get punched, kicked and pushed” and “running for their lives,” according to a police report.

The plainclothes officers said they did not intervene for fear their own safety would be jeopardized as the estimated 400 protesters developed a “mob mentality.”

The officers’ observations were included in the arrest report of Antonio Moses Fernandez, 19, of San Jose, who is accused of throwing a metal barrier into a police skirmish line following the Trump rally June 2 outside the San Jose Convention Center. Fernandez made his first court appearance Tuesday and was charged with felony assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon and misdemeanor resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer, according to court documents....

“When there’s an assault on a police officer, we don’t have any tolerance for that,” prosecutor Chris Boscia said.

So far Fernandez is the only person to be criminally charged stemming from the violence that erupted outside Trump’s rally last week. Three other people were also arrested the day of the rally, including Ahmed Abdirahman, 19, of Santa Clara, and Robert Trillo, 18, both on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon, and Michael Kitaigorodsky, 19, of San Jose, on suspicion of refusal to disperse.

Three juveniles were also arrested, police said Wednesday. A 16-year-old and a 17-year-old, both of San Jose, were arrested for felony assault with a deadly weapon. A 16-year-old Milpitas resident was arrested for misdemeanor battery. Their names were not released because they are minors. The attacks were seen in television reports....

One of the undercover officers wrote that he was “monitoring protesters from within the crowd” and estimated there were 250 protesters gathered behind barricades at 6 p.m., about one hour before Trump’s scheduled arrival. That number grew as the evening wore on.

As the crowd grew, the officer noted that “it became inherently dangerous for anyone wearing a T-shirt or hat in support of Trump. I observed Trump supporters being spit on, objects being thrown at them, punched, kicked and even robbed of their personal belongings. 


In these instances, I observed victims running for their lives. 

A second undercover officer reported seeingseveral individuals wearing Trump articles of clothing get punched, kicked and pushed. Due to the crowd size and volatility, officers (both uniform and plain clothes) were unable to help most victims.”

Just after 8 p.m. police issued an order for the crown to disperse. At 9:10 p.m. the undercover officers witnessed Fernandez throw a metal barricade into officers dressed in full riot gear. One officer was injured after being hit by the barricade, according to the report.

The undercover officers say they witnessed Fernandez pick up a second barrier and then put it down. One witnessed Fernandez remove his shirt and use it to cover his face. One of the undercover officers eventually tackled Fernandez and held him down until uniformed officers arrived to make the arrest. During a police interview, Fernandez denied throwing the barrier into the police line. 

In the face of critics who charge police did little to protect Trump supporters, Police Chief Eddie Garcia has defended his officers’ handling of the protest. Garcia insisted that it was more important for police to hold their “skirmish line” formations than to stop individual attacks.

“We are not an ‘occupying force’ and cannot reflect the chaotic tactics of the protesters,” Garcia told reporters. Unless a victim’s life was in peril or the violence was “spiraling out of control,” he said,  


officers held back to avoid inciting more violence and having the crowd turn on officers. 

He also said the 250 police weren’t enough to control about 400 protesters.

Following the rally several videos appeared on various social media sites and captured some of the attacks. A police task force is reviewing video evidence of the assaults and other possible crimes from the protest. Monday the police department announced more arrests were “imminent,” but so far no additional arrests have been announced. 

San Jose police are asking anyone with information about physical assaults at the Trump rally or videos of the violence to contact their Assaults Unit at 408-277-4161 or leave a tip with Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at 408-947-STOP (7867) or svcrimestoppers.org." image from Mercury News



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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Mueller Wanna Cry: Most of 13 Russian trolls in Mueller indictment haven't worked for troll factory in a long time and not during elections, per Russian journalist co-author of Oct. 2017 report on Russian trolls. Most of multi-million dollar alleged Mueller 'findings' on Russian trolls were published in Oct. 2017 by Russian magazine, RBC. As to fake Black Fist group--it didn't begin until 2017...AFTER the election-Washington Post, 2/18/18

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2/18/18, "The Russian journalist who helped uncover election interference is confounded by the Mueller indictments," Washington Post, Adam Taylor

"A 37-page indictment issued by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team on Friday brings fresh American attention to one of the strangest elements of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election: The Internet Research Agency (IRA), a state-sponsored “troll factory” in St. Petersburg (Russia).

But much of the information Mueller published on Friday about the agency’s efforts to influence the election had already been published last October [2017]--in an article by a Russian business magazine, RBC.

In a 4,500-word report titled “How the 'troll factory' worked the U.S. elections,” journalists Polina Rusyaeva and Andrey Zakharov offered the fullest picture yet of how the “American department” of the IRA used Facebook, Twitter and other tactics to inflame tensions ahead of the 2016 vote. The article also looked at the staffing structure of the organization and revealed details about its budget and salaries.

Zakharov agreed to answer some questions for [Washington Post] WorldViews about his reaction to the details about the IRA in Mueller’s indictments (Rusyaeva left journalism after the story came out, although she stresses she did not do so because of a reaction to the story). 

Zakharov explained how it was a strange feeling seeing something he had so closely investigated become a major issue in the United States, when it had not been a “bombshell” when he published his report at home.

The transcript below has been edited for length and clarity.

[Washington Post] WorldViews: You’ve read the Mueller document. What was your reaction to it?

Andrey Zakharov: Well, of all the people who are mentioned there, only some people were the real top managers of the troll factory. Like [Mikhail] Bystrov, who’s been the head of all its legal entities for a long time. He’s a former policeman. Another guy is [Mikhail] Burchik. We wrote about him. He was the executive director of the troll factory for a long time. And the last guy is Jeyhun Aslanov. He was and I think he’s still with the head of American department. Both Aslanov and Burchik always denied that had something in common with the factory, Bystrov never commented it.

The other staff mentioned are very incidental. I mean, it seems like they put down all the names they could get. Some were people who worked there in 2014--but most of these guys didn’t work for the troll factory for a long time. They didn’t even work there during the elections. Like Krylova, she didn’t work there then. [Aleksandra Krylova is one of the two named Internet Research Agency employees the indictment said traveled to the United States in 2014.]

It looks like they just took some employees from the that American department whose names they could get. But the American department was like 90 people. So my reaction was that, for me, it was like that curious list of oligarchs and Kremlin authorities where they put the whole Forbes list and the whole Kremlin administration on it. It’s very strange.

I was also very surprised that they wrote private about the private messages of one girl [Irina Kaverzina]. She wrote to relatives that FBI is following them and so on. I think they read her emails. I was very surprised by that. But generally, they seem to have got people who were not careful--who used their own email accounts or registered Twitter accounts to Russian phone numbers.

[Washington Post] WV: I saw some people on social media who suggested that the Mueller team must have read your report. Do you think that’s true?

AZ: That they read it? Probably. Some of your U.S. colleagues used to contact me. Maybe some of them worked for your government, I don’t know. Nobody who said they were from Mueller’s team contacted me. I’ve never told people more than we wrote anyway.

[Washington Post] WV: What was it that made you feel it was time to do a big investigation into the American section of the troll factory?

AZ: In March [2017] we investigated the troll factory but at that time we focused on another part of it — its work setting up official media agencies. At the end we wrote that the troll factory worked before and after the U.S. elections, and we put some statistics like 15 million likes and shares in one week and some details of the stories they were sharing. Then we forgot about the story.

But when Facebook and Twitter announced at the beginning of September that they closed a lot of accounts, your colleagues started to write to us about whether we knew more about this activity. We decided that everybody is so interested in the story, we should make a second investigation. We reviewed what we had uncovered in March, got some more information and wrote it.

[Washington Post] WV: Is it difficult to report on? 

AZ: For us it was easier. I lived in St. Petersburg before and worked as a journalist there. Russian media has been covering the troll factory since 2013, long before the big investigation in the New York Times Magazine [6/7/2015]--and by the way, most of the things in that were just taken from my colleagues.

And so I used to write about the troll factory. I already had sources there. Some of my friends had even worked there as a journalist. Polina [co-author of Oct. 2017 article] had sources, too. But yes, in some cases they were scared. In some cases, foreign colleagues asked us whether our sources would speak to them, but they were too scared to talk with anyone else. 

[Washington Post] WV: When the story came out, what was the reaction from the Russian authorities?

AZ: It was, it was very interesting, because there was no official reaction. And at that time people here were already tired of the everyday news from your country was “the Russians did it.” I can’t say it was a bombshell.

We tried to focus only on what happened. We didn’t try to understand whether there was real influence on the election or not. And I still believe that nobody measured that properly. Yes, they were very active, but whether the influence was big or small? Nobody knows. We just wanted to show how they worked.

[Washington Post] WV: Do you think that Americans misunderstand the troll factory then?

AZ: I just don’t know. When I went in this investigation I thought that maybe we should just take all authentic groups and all movements on Facebook and then compare that with these fake groups which were posted right by the troll factory. Maybe there are more members in the authentic groups? We didn’t do it. But nobody has really tried to measure whether the influence was great or not.

It was very strange when your media started to look into the groups. It was almost like a competition, you know. “We found out that this group was operated by Russians!” but then you’d look at this group and you’d find it only had 100 members. For some time, it looked a lot like your colleagues were just going after facts and not really analyzing it. There was that big investigation of those Macedonian guys, remember? They established fake pro-Trump groups, and their groups were huge. But even though it was said that these Macedonian guys influence American people, everybody forgot about it.

Also, everyone has focused on the pro-Trump groups. What we saw was that they were trying to spread tension in the society, talking about problems people had with black people, Islam and so on.

They organized anti-Trump rallies also. Yes, they were active against Hillary [Clinton], but they were not always pro-Trump. 

They were also active after the election. The story about the Black Fist movement--fake movement self-defense classes for black people--they started this story in 2017, after Trump was elected
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[Washington Post] WV: Do you still keep tabs on what the factory is doing?

AZ: We knew that after Facebook and Twitter blocked their groups, they still had groups and accounts with lots of followers, but we couldn’t find them. By the end of the last year, we knew that the American group was still active, but not by the same scale as before.

They are proud of their work. For them it was really fun: 90 people sitting in St. Petersburg [Russia], organizing groups with thousands and thousands of likes. It was a very successful social media marketing campaign.

[Washington Post] WV: What are the big questions left about the troll factory?

AZ: Well we all know who is supposed to be running this factory. We just can’t prove it without phrases like “supposed to be” and so on. I think that should be investigated more. I also wonder what those guys [Aleksandra Krylova, Anna Bogacheva and a third unnamed agency staffer] really did in the U.S. in 2014. It is not like they are intelligence people, but I'm not sure.

And for your colleagues, the biggest question is still: Was the influence great or not?

[Washington Post] WV: Do you have a personal opinion on that?

AZ: I don’t know. It’s difficult. Nobody is interested in answering that question. Everybody is so divided about this story now. If pro-Trump people look into it, nobody would believe them. If anti-Trump people look into it, nobody would believe them.

A lot of Russian conservatives were proud. They said: “Look at what Russians can do! Only 90 people with $2 million made America scared! We are strong!” And for conservative people here, they see that Americans have CNN, Radio Free Europe, etc., that cover Russia. They say, “Why can’t we establish groups in America and have our own influence? That's how conservative people think here. They think this was normal."



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'Hacking' against the US can now be carried out with cyber weapons paid for by US taxpayers. Top secret NSA cyber tools emerged on internet in August 2016, available to everyone including ISIS. Have already been used to attack US businesses along with hospitals and other civilian targets worldwide. Officials say no question NSA insider removed the data-NY Times, 6/28/2017

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In August 2016, a group called Shadow Brokers announced it was auctioning off highly classified National Security Agency hacking tools. Since then, NSA's finest cyber weapons have been used to attack US entities:

6/28/2017, "Hacks [using NSA weapons] Raise Fear Over N.S.A.’s Hold on Cyberweapons," NY Times,


"A series of escalating attacks using N.S.A. cyberweapons have hit hospitals, a nuclear site and American businesses. Now there is growing concern that United States intelligence agencies have rushed to create digital weapons that they cannot keep safe from adversaries or disable once they fall into the wrong hands....

Though the identities of the Shadow Brokers remain a mystery, former intelligence officials say there is no question from where the weapons came: a unit deep within the agency that was until recently called “Tailored Access Operations.”...

For the American spy agency, which has invested billions of [taxpayer] dollars developing an arsenal of weapons that have been used against the Iranian nuclear program, North Korea’s missile launches and Islamic State militants, what is unfolding across the world amounts to a digital nightmare. It was as if the Air Force lost some of its most sophisticated missiles and discovered an adversary was launching them against American allies — yet refused to respond, or even to acknowledge that the missiles were built for American use. 

Officials fret that the potential damage from the Shadow Brokers leaks could go much further, and the agency’s own weaponry could be used to destroy critical infrastructure in allied nations or in the United States....


In the past two months [2017], attackers have retrofitted the agency’s more recent weapons to steal credentials from American companies. Cybercriminals have used them to pilfer digital currency....

The [Tuesday, June 2017] attacks inflicted enormous collateral damage, taking down some 2,000 global targets in more than 65 countries, including Merck, the American drug giant, Maersk, the Danish shipping company, and Rosneft, the Russian state owned energy giant. The attack so crippled operations at a subsidiary of Federal Express that trading had to be briefly halted for FedEx stock....
 

Armed with the N.S.A.’s own tools, the limits are gone.

“We now have actors, like North Korea and segments of the Islamic State, who have access to N.S.A. tools who don’t care about economic and other ties between nation states,” said Jon Wellinghoff, the former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission."...

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Added:

11/12/2017, "Security Breach and Spilled Secrets Have Shaken the N.S.A. to Its Core," NY Times, Scott Shane, Nicole Perlroth, David E. Sanger 

"A serial leak of the agency’s cyberweapons has damaged morale, slowed intelligence operations and resulted in hacking attacks on businesses and civilians worldwide.... 

Current and former agency officials say the Shadow Brokers disclosures, which began in August 2016, have been catastrophic for the N.S.A., calling into question its ability to protect potent cyberweapons and its very value to national security. The agency regarded as the world’s leader in breaking into adversaries’ computer networks failed to protect its own.... 

The Snowden trauma led to the investment of millions of dollars in new technology and tougher rules to counter what the government calls the insider threat. But N.S.A. employees say that with thousands of employees pouring in and out of the gates, and the ability to store a library’s worth of data in a device that can fit on a key ring, it is impossible to prevent people from walking out with secrets....

Mr. Williams said it may be years before the “full fallout” of the Shadow Brokers breach is understood. Even the arrest of whoever is responsible for the leaks may not end them, he said — because the sophisticated perpetrators may have built a “dead man’s switch” to release all remaining files automatically upon their arrest.

“We’re obviously dealing with people who have operational security knowledge,” he said. “They have the whole law enforcement system and intelligence system after them. And they haven't been caught.""...
 
"If that’s the case, it's one more reason to question the usefulness of an agency that secretly collects private information on millions of Americans but can't keep its most valuable data from being stolen, or as it appears in this case, being used against us."... (8/21/2016, Reuters) 

(NY Times): "Long known mainly as an eavesdropping agency, the  




as an especially productive way to spy on foreign targets. The intelligence collection is often automated, with malware implants — computer code designed to find material of interest — left sitting on the targeted system for months or even years, sending files back to the N.S.A.

The same implant can be used for many purposes: to steal documents, tap into email, subtly change data or become the launching pad for an attack. T.A.O.’s most public success was an operation against Iran called Olympic Games, in which implants in the network of the Natanz nuclear plant caused centrifuges enriching uranium to self-destruct. The T.A.O. was also critical to attacks on the Islamic State and North Korea. 

It was this arsenal that the Shadow Brokers got hold of, and then began to release."...

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Additional Reuters source on NSA theft:

8/21/2016, "Commentary: Evidence points to another Snowden at the NSA," Reuters, James Bamford, commentary




 

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Facebook VP of Ads responds: I've seen all the Russian ads and can say definitively that swaying the election was not the main goal. It's not well known that most Russian ad spending was AFTER the election-Rob Goldman twitter, 2/16/18

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Update, 2/20/18: Rob Goldman apologizes for his statements not cleared by Facebook: "Facebook Ad Executive Rob Goldman Apologizes for having “Uncleared Thoughts”," tcth, sundance

Two points: It turns out that Herr Mueller's multi-million dollar report on alleged Facebook Russian trolls was taken mainly from already published reports (2/18/18, "The Russian journalist who helped uncover [alleged] election interference is confounded by the Mueller indictments," Washington Post, Adam Taylor). Second, the hammer/big money behind being anti-Trump is the criminal, parasitic Endless War Industry which is desperate to launch a US taxpayer funded nuclear war with Russia. People who started out just being anti-Trump (and perhaps also anti-war) eagerly joined with the Endless War Industry desperate for a US taxpayer funded war with Russia. It doesn't matter that US taxpayers are global slaves of the Endless War Industry. Since World War I, every baby born in the United States is born in bondage to the Endless War Industry ("The Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming"). Everyone assumed this money laundering operation would continue forever, no questions asked. Trump the candidate agreed with his 63 million voters that US taxpayers can no longer afford to finance endless foreign wars, especially wars that are never won. This should be obvious. We want to be friends with everyone and help whenever we can, but we can no longer bear the burden of putting our own country's needs last. Trump the President is different than Trump the candidate, someone whom the War Industry should be thrilled with. But they're not. Their main issue is we don't get to choose-they do. US citizens cannot be allowed to select their own president. We were told you can have either Jeb Bush or Hillary. Virtually identical, both extremely open borders, extremely globalist, extremely endless foreign wars, and massive free trade deals. We're now presented with Communist style elections. All candidates are pre-approved by the Politboro. Voting is meaningless.
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2/16/18: Facebook VP of ads, Rob Goldman, explains key facts of Russian actions that still aren't well understood following Rod Rosenstein reading indictments from Mueller committee. From Mr. Goldman's twitter account (8 separate twitter entries follow):

"Very excited to see the Mueller indictment today. We shared Russian ads with Congress, Mueller and the American people to help the public understand how the Russians abused our system. Still, there are key facts about the Russian actions that are still not well understood. ... 

Most of the coverage of Russian meddling involves their attempt to effect the outcome of the 2016 US election. I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was NOT the main goal. ... 

The majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election. We shared it, but very few outlets have covered it because it doesn’t align with the main media narrative of Trump and the election. ...

The main goal of the Russian propaganda and misinformation effort is to divide America by using our institutions, like free speech and social media, against us. It has stoked fear and hatred amongst Americans. It is working incredibly well. We are quite divided as a nation. ... 

The single best demonstration of Russia's true motives is the Houston anti-islamic protest. Americans were literally puppeted into the streets by trolls who organized both the sides of protest. ... 

The Russian campaign is ongoing. Just last week saw news that Russian spies attempted to sell a fake video of Trump with a hooker to the NSA. US officials cut off the deal because they were wary of being entangled in a Russian plot to create discord. ... 

There are easy ways to fight this. Disinformation is ineffective against a well educated citizenry. Finland, Sweden and Holland have all taught digital literacy and critical thinking about misinformation to great effect. ... 

We are also taking aggressive steps to prevent this sort of meddling in the future by requiring verification of political advertisers and by making all ads on the platform visible to anyone who cares to examine them."

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Below, 8 twitter entries from FB VP Ads Rob Goldman reflecting text above 































 















































Above 8 twitter images from Facebook VP Ads, Rob Goldman twitter
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More on Russian ads:

2/11/18, "A group of industry insiders is putting Russian election meddling up for ad awards," techcrunch.com


"A group of industry insiders is putting Russian election meddling up for ad awards."

Image from TechCrunch
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Added: 9/11/2017, from Daily Beast: Alleged Russian Facebook group promoted an Aug. 2016 rally in rural Idaho. No proof exists that the rally took place or that anyone attended. It's possible to claim attendance on Facebook to events that don't exist. In this case the 'rally' was scheduled for a Saturday at a government location that's closed Saturdays:

"It is also possible to claim attendance on Facebook at an event that didn't exist."

9/11/2017, "Exclusive: Russia Used Facebook Events to Organize Anti-Immigrant Rallies on U.S. Soil," Daily Beast, Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen, Spencer Ackerman

"Russian operatives hiding behind false identities used Facebook’s event-management tool to remotely organize and promote political protests in the U.S., including an August 2016 anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rally in Idaho, The Daily Beast has learned....





The three-hour protest was titled “Citizens before refugees,” and would be held at the City Council Chambers beginning at 11 a.m. The notice provided the street address and ended with a fiery exhortation....

[parag. 10] Although 48 people clicked that they were “interested” in the protest, only four said they went to City Council Chambers that day, according to the event page, possibly because it was a Saturday and the Council was not in session."... 

Daily Beast admits there's no way to tell from Facebook pages if anyone attended alleged events or if events even took place: 

"It is also possible to claim attendance on Facebook at an event that didn’t exist."... 




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Friday, February 16, 2018

Alleged Russian Facebook group promoted an Aug. 2016 rally in rural Idaho. No proof exists that the rally took place or that anyone attended. It's possible to claim attendance on Facebook to events that don't exist. In this case the 'rally' was scheduled for a Saturday at a government location that's closed Saturdays-Daily Beast, 9/11/2017

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"It is also possible to claim attendance on Facebook at an event that didn't exist." 

9/11/2017, "Exclusive: Russia Used Facebook Events to Organize Anti-Immigrant Rallies on U.S. Soil," Daily Beast, Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen, Spencer Ackerman

"Russian operatives hiding behind false identities used Facebook’s event-management tool to remotely organize and promote political protests in the U.S., including an August 2016 anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rally in Idaho, The Daily Beast has learned....






The three-hour protest was titled “Citizens before refugees,” and would be held at the City Council Chambers beginning at 11 a.m. The notice provided the street address and ended with a fiery exhortation....

[parag. 10] Although 48 people clicked that they were “interested” in the protest, only four said they went to City Council Chambers that day, according to the event page, possibly because it was a Saturday and the Council was not in session."... 

Daily Beast admits there's no way to tell from Facebook pages if anyone attended alleged events or if events even took place: 

"It is also possible to claim attendance on Facebook at an event that didn’t exist."... 




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