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Mon Jul 17, 2017, 09:26 AM

How An Entire Nation Became Russia's Test Lab for Cyberwar

It was a Saturday night last December, and Oleksii Yasinsky was sitting on the couch with his wife and teenage son in the living room of their Kiev apartment. The 40-year-old Ukrainian cybersecurity researcher and his family were an hour into Oliver Stone’s film Snowden when their building abruptly lost power.

“The hackers don’t want us to finish the movie,” Yasinsky’s wife joked. She was referring to an event that had occurred a year earlier, a cyberattack that had cut electricity to nearly a quarter-million Ukrainians two days before Christmas in 2015. Yasinsky, a chief forensic analyst at a Kiev digital security firm, didn’t laugh. He looked over at a portable clock on his desk: The time was 00:00. Precisely midnight.

Yasinsky’s television was plugged into a surge protector with a battery backup, so only the flicker of images onscreen lit the room now. The power strip started beeping plaintively. Yasinsky got up and switched it off to save its charge, leaving the room suddenly silent.

He went to the kitchen, pulled out a handful of candles and lit them. Then he stepped to the kitchen window. The thin, sandy-blond engineer looked out on a view of the city as he’d never seen it before: The entire skyline around his apartment building was dark. Only the gray glow of distant lights reflected off the clouded sky, outlining blackened hulks of modern condos and Soviet high-rises.

Noting the precise time and the date, almost exactly a year since the December 2015 grid attack, Yasinsky felt sure that this was no normal blackout. He thought of the cold outside—close to zero degrees Fahrenheit—the slowly sinking temperatures in thousands of homes, and the countdown until dead water pumps led to frozen pipes.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/russian-hackers-attack-ukraine/

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Reply How An Entire Nation Became Russia's Test Lab for Cyberwar (Original post)
Galraedia Jul 2017 OP
Igel Jul 2017 #1
Golden Raisin Jul 2017 #2

Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Mon Jul 17, 2017, 11:05 AM

1. There have been a number of tests.

Bush II and Obama flunked them. Miserably.

Abkhazia and S. Ossetia (newly renamed in preparation for annexation). Abkhazia had a Russian-supported mini-insurgency. Transdnistria went the same way. Both punished uppity little republics that weren't properly grateful and didn't do the dark lord's bidding. S. Ossetia was a full-on invasion.

Chechnya was a massive war crime pretty much nobody cared about. One of the Donets'k republic's early leaders was involved in it. He and some generals wrote a nice article saying that it's better for a thousand civilians to die than for one Russian soldier to be killed. Groznyi and a few other sites exemplified that strategy. We were busy with trying to say that a reduced "birthrate = murder" to pay attention to "killing living civilians = murder." All politics is, sadly, local, esp. overseas politics.

In the '90s and '00s economic sanctions were imposed, in some cases "by accident", on former Soviet satrapies. It taught them that Russia was the kid of big brother that liked to rape and torture his siblings unless they called him "sir" and praised him night and day. The US complained.

In all of this, Russia learned that it might get a slap on the wrist, but the president's popularity would soar, patriotism and nationalism would be solidified, and xenophobia increased by the sanctions. In other words, the punishment was a reward. Yeah, a lot of the population would suffer, but the blame game was well in hand: It's okay for horrible things to happen as long as you make the blame stick to your political foes. "Bad Johnny, you punched your sister. For that, you get all the chocolate cake you can eat--and let that be a lesson." It was, for all the whining about how it would produce a weight-gain problem. Remember, the punishment must be perceived as a punishment.

There were repeated attacks by Russian hackers on the US government and those funny bits of what we call "infrastructure" that calls itself "publicly held corporations." Banks, credit card companies, email servers, etc. We only really noticed them last year when it became narrowly focused on the One Important Thing, politics. When Target was hacked, politics said it was Target's fault. I guess that means it wasn't Russia's fault the DNC was hacked, but the DNC's? Ah, no. Politics. But misguiding ourselves made the problem seem "not ours."

Then the events in Ukraine and Crimea. What did we do? We hurt the Russian economy. That's what matters, $. Except that Russians were fairly used to economic discomfort and while it hurts their long-term prospect, it strengthened Putin and made Russians proud at what Putin accomplished and pissed off at Americans--not just the government.

And still, nobody's learned. Because everybody's too afraid of what a real punishment would look like. Even with the "hacking" last year, we still engage in a lot of misdirection and have no solution for fixing the problem except nameless, undefined "regulations" (what kind? on who? to do what?) and removing Trump. But even without Russian hacking, we'd still want to remove Trump. Again, we're okay with pain and problems as long as we can blame the right people. Because it's not about the country as a whole or the population all taken together, it's not about the system, for most people it's really just about domestic politics and which team wins. Like it's a football game.

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Response to Galraedia (Original post)

Mon Jul 17, 2017, 11:39 AM

2. Read Ted Koppel's "Lights Out"

for a clear and super frightening analysis of a concerted cyber attack on our Electric Grid.

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