Russian Hackers Accessed US Voting Machines: US Assertion That Presidential Election Was Safe Focuses Perception Not Reality
The firm setting security for US voting machines reported Russian hackers got a hold of passwords to US voting machines and tried to sell them online. Supposedly this only happened after the election, and allegedly the “bad guys” were caught; however, nothing delegitimizes a presidency like a voting hack and a poorly worded Twitter campaign. Which does the public have more tolerance for? Russian hacking.
The U.S. agency charged with ensuring that voting machines meet security standards was itself penetrated by a hacker after the elections in November, according to a security firm working with law enforcement on the matter.
The security firm, Recorded Future, was monitoring underground electronic markets where hackers buy and sell wares and discovered someone offering logon credentials for access to computers at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, company executives said.
Posing as a potential buyer, the researchers engaged in a conversation with the hacker, said Levi Gundert, vice president of intelligence at the company, and Andrei Barysevich, director of advanced collection.
Eventually they discovered that the hacker had obtained the credentials of more than 100 people at the Commission after exploiting a common database vulnerability, the researchers said.
The hacker was trying to sell information about the vulnerability to a Middle Eastern government for several thousand dollars, but the researchers alerted law enforcement and said Thursday that the hole had been patched.
While the Trump presidency complacency in the face of human rights violations has been compared to the rise of Nazism, with perception being more important than reality, it’s not surprising that Americans trust the Trump Twitter feed more than they do the FBI revelations of hacking in the US election.
So, we are led to believe that the voting machine hacking that US judges denied could happen when Jill Stein asked for a recount, notably in Pennsylvania where it was denied, actually happened. Here is where the perception of reality, i.e. that the US voting machines couldn’t be hacked because judges didn’t know how it could be done, determined policy equaling no recount when the reality is, the machines were hacked. Perception vs. reality seems to be the predominant feature of a Trump presidency and the American public.
The American public and judiciary want to believe that US voting machines weren’t hacked, and so therefore assert it couldn’t happen, all the while ignoring the reality that it already happened. Perception, in this case, was easier to stomach than reality, and so perception, or wishful thinking, creates an alternate reality. Creating that alternate reality based on perception is what led to Nazis taking over Eastern Europe. Perception: all those outside of Germany posed a threat to Germany’s independence and patriotism. Reality: Nazism posed the most extreme threat to Germany’s independence and patriotism.
Perception: the 2016 US Election couldn’t be hacked. Reality: Not on only was the election influenced by Russian spies, but US voting machines were hacked:
In the case of the election commission, the hacker used methods including an SQL injection, a well-known and preventable flaw, obtaining a list of usernames and obfuscated passwords, which he was then able to crack.
Though much of the Commission’s work is public, the hacker gained access to non-public reports on flaws in voting machines.
In theory, someone could have used knowledge of such flaws to attack specific machines, said Matt Blaze, an electronic voting expert and professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
The researchers were confident that the hacker moved to sell his access soon after getting it, meaning that he was not inside the system before election day. Further, the U.S. voting process is decentralized and there were no reports of widespread fraud in November.
Huffington Post published the article quote above, and while it has sources for its assertions that the hacker gained “non-public flaws,” there are no citations to support its assertion that “there were no reports of widespread fraud in November,” not that fraud didn’t occur, just that it wasn’t widespread. How can we trust that? And that is the point: if we want to believe that hacking didn’t take place, then we act as if it didn’t take place, and suddenly we can ignore the reality that US voting machines were hacked. Ergo, perception trumps reality.
The NYTimes calls the Russian hack the equivalent of the best weapon ever:
While there’s no way to be certain of the ultimate impact of the hack, this much is clear: A low-cost, high-impact weapon that Russia had test-fired in elections from Ukraine to Europe was trained on the United States, with devastating effectiveness. For Russia, with an enfeebled economy and a nuclear arsenal it cannot use short of all-out war, cyberpower proved the perfect weapon: cheap, hard to see coming, hard to trace.