Friday, July 27, 2018

Russian Hackers Target Vulnerable Democrat Senator in 2018 Midterms

Senator Claire McCaskill - targeted by Russian hackers in lead up to 2018 midterms.

Some wonder whether we will ever lean what was discussed during Donald Trump's tete a tete  with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.  Based on new stories about Russian efforts to undermine Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections, it seems a safe bet that Trump wasn't laying down the law to Putin about ceasing Russian interference in American elections. Trump's detractors might even conjecture that the two discussed what Russia might do to keep Congress under Republican control and thereby allow Trump to avoid Democrat chaired hearings and hard hitting Congressional subpoenas.  Perhaps even articles of impeachment,  As the Washington Post reports, Russian hackers have targeted Missouri Democrat, Senator Claire McCaskill in an apparent attempt to throw that seat in the U.S. Senate to McCaskill's Republican challenger.  The good news, is that the attempt failed.  The bad news is that the effort will likely persist and one can just imagine the Russia bot generated fake news that McCaskill will face.  That Trump and Congressional Republicans are doing nothing to stop these efforts - Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell at best have their thumbs up their butts, although I suspect McConnell is applauding if not abetting the Russian effort - borders on treasonous.  Here are highlights from the Post piece:
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, one of the most vulnerable Democrats running for reelection this year, was targeted by Russian government hackers who sought but failed to compromise her Senate computer network.
“Russia continues to engage in cyber warfare against our democracy,” McCaskill said in a press release Thursday evening. “While this attack was not successful, it is outrageous that they think they can get away with this. I will not be intimidated. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Putin is a thug and a bully.”
The hackers, who belong to Russia’s military spy agency GRU, targeted two other candidates running in the midterms, according to a Microsoft executive, Tom Burt, who spoke at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado last week. He did not identify the candidates. None were compromised, he said.
McCaskill, who is the ranking Democrat on the homeland security committee and also sits on the armed services panel, has been critical of President Trump’s statements that appear to discount the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia used information warfare in an attempt to influence the 2016 election.
Just two weeks ago, the Justice Department announced the indictments of 12 GRU officers charged with hacking Democratic Party email networks and releasing stolen material in an effort to affect the election.
Top U.S. intelligence officials, including Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, have warned that they expected the Russians to try again this year.
“Russia has been the most aggressive foreign actor — no question,” Coats said in recent remarks at the Hudson Institute. “And they continue their efforts to undermine our democracy.”
Microsoft discovered “a fake Microsoft domain” or website that the hackers had created to which spearphish victims were directed.  “We took down that domain, and working with the government actually were able to avoid anybody being infected by that particular attack,” he said.
McCaskill is expected to face Josh Hawley, Missouri’s attorney general and the leading GOP contender for the Senate seat, in November.

What I find most disturbing is that far too many Republican voters are willing to overlook possible treason and election interference as longs a the benefited candidates hates blacks, gays and Hispanics as much as they do.  And yes, many of these Republicans are evangelical Christians. I have long argued that they constitute a threat to constitutional government and now, they are willing to support a Russian backed de facto putsch. (For Fox News viewers, a putsch is a secretly plotted and suddenly executed attempt to overthrow a government.)

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