The so-called “market of ideas”. And since Edward Bernays, marketing has dominated the rhetoric of the market of ideas. And marketing depends on “consumer intelligence”, not the intelligence of the consumer but the intelligence about the consumer’s hot buttons.
Scott Ritter reports about the technical information that has been grist for the information war about the election from the beginning. He also reports on how the marketing strategies of cybersecurity and software firms play in to how the events of 2016 played out.
Ritter’s point is this: DNC approached cybersecurity as an inhouse operation backed up by an aggresssive cybersecurity analysis, attribution, and response company. That company was CrowdStrike. DNC’s inhouse protection failed catastrophically (in political terms). When they brought in CrowdStrike, that company’s skill set seemed to go more toward narrative management than toward skilled attribution of the intruder. Meanwhile, the self-claimed actor was dismissed as a hoax and the assumption was made that of 30 potential government actors, the alleged government actor was Russia. Ritter furthermore says that CrowdStrike then and not controls the evidence from the DNC servers that could give other investigators information about attribution but that it (and the DNC) refuses to release that evidence.
What emerges in this reporting is how vulnerable we are because the US government (for us), cybersecurity firms (for their clients), and all of the organizations that handle sensitive data can neither secure their servers from a determined attack, reliably attribute an attack, or work to shut down the source of an attack once identified. Nor have they devoted sufficient resources to figure out how reduce the ability to carry out an attack. Indeed, the US National Security Agency is more interested in carrying out attacks on other organization’s assets than on protecting US assets.
That last reality is why the intelligence community has not been able itself to provide reliable attribution in the absence of political motivation. They too are reactive; moreover they are politically constrained by their sources of funding.
It is a vulnerability that was introduced when the internet became a real-time communication tool instead of just an interface for lookup in the equivalent of what Internet Archive aspires to be — a global public library.
The story now reduces to the marketing spin of the various actors involved or alleged to be involved.
CrowdStrike has a motto: “You don’t have a Malware Problem, You Have an Adversary Problem.”
The only clear beneficiary of the DNC leak was the Trump campaign and even then just barely.
They would be the most obvious adversary.
The assumption that only the Russians could have done such a wide-ranging cyberattack has shielded direct action by the Trump campaign from scrutiny. It as also shieded hackers friendly with Julian Assange, who might have a grudge against how the Clinton State Department made him a man without a country. What other adversaries would have a motive and a means?
The DNC legitimately is worried that an investigation of their server materials in CrowdStrike hands could expose other confidential transactions. This impasse is completely predictable.
Would an additional direction in Mueller’s investigation include what is known about the leak and the Trump campaign’s knowledge (if any) of the leak or the contents of the leaks, or coordination. Testimony about the more easily discovered meeting coordinating with Russia during the campaign could lead to clarity about the cyberintrusions. After all the subjects and topics of the leaks were reminiscent of Nixon’s Watergate operation.
What is clear is that the crapification of the internet is more and more obvious and at some point draws away internet traffic as network operation turn the revenue screws.
The implications of this caper are very clarifying for politics, international relations, technology, and information consumption.