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General News    H1'ed 3/1/19

US Cyber Command Thwarted A Cyberattack On Election Day

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By now, it's common knowledge Russia penetrated several states' voter rolls during the 2016 election.

Since then, concerns grew over the 2018 mid-term elections, which, according to intelligence data, were just as susceptible to foreign influence as before.

Especially disconcerting is the fact that House Republicans this summer refused to fund election security in a spending bill, all but ensuring another cyber attack.

As we await Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report that began with an investigation into just how involved Russian operatives were in helping elect Donald Trump--and rivet ourselves to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen's scathing testimony before the House Oversight Committee--a recent Washington Post report confirms U.S. Cyber Command successfully thwarted another hack attack.

Launching its "first offensive cyber campaign against Russia" on November 6--election day--U.S. Cyber Command was able to target and disable for the day the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency (IRA).

One official explained:

"Part of our objective is to throw a little curve ball, inject a little friction, sow confusion. We showed what's in the realm of the possible. It's not the old way of doing business anymore."

The also reported on a messaging campaign zeroing in on IRA officials in Russia's intelligence agency (GRU) involving emailing, direct messaging, and texting Russian trolls and hackers, informing them of our knowledge of what they were intending, warning them not to interfere with our elections or other countries' affairs.

In 2017, Facebook presented Congress 3,000 Russian-purchased ads through 470 phony pages and accounts that suggest African American rights groups, like Black Lives Matter, posed a political threat, in an effort to exploit racial divisions. Facebook said at least $100,000 was spent for this purpose, a mere fraction of its political advertising during the 2016 campaign.

Exploiting Facebook's ability to send conflicting messages to users based on their political and demographic characteristics, the Russian cyber endeavors also intended to create a rift among religious groups, such as emphasizing Muslim women's support for Hillary Clinton.

In December, the New York Times reported the IRA's, exploitation of social media platforms was far more extensive than initially assumed.

Russian trolls promulgated disinformation and division on basically all the social media millions of people engage with every day-Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, Google+, and particularly Instagram.

According to reports to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, Russia engaged in a five-year "propaganda war" against the U.S. public. Oxford researchers responsible for one of the reports said this propaganda was intended to "push and pull" Americans in different directions.

It goes on to confirm what we already suspected:

"What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican party - and specifically, Donald Trump."

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Ted Millar is a writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Straight Forward Poetry, Better Than Starbucks, the Broke Bohemian, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices (more...)
 

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