Tags: president elect trump | putin | russia | hack | cybersecurity

Hacking America Is An Act of War

Hacking America Is An Act of War

(Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

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Thursday, 15 December 2016 12:54 PM Current | Bio | Archive

When the CIA announced that Russia had successfully undermined the electoral process in the United States presidential election, I felt what many shooting victims report: Nothing — just a shocky sort of wonder. Was I hit?

That didn’t last very long. The truth is that our entire nation has taken a bullet with this latest news. And as the nervous system of the country’s media relays more information about the victory of Donald J. Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s President-select (PPSOTUS), the seriousness of the situation should be clear. The shock passed, pain blossoms.

We were hit — and this might just be a fatal blow to our sovereignty.

It is not an overstatement to say that the hacking of the U.S. presidential election could edge us one step closer to the end of our democracy. This didn’t fully dawn on me until I came across the reaction of former acting Director of the CIA, Michael Morell, who observed that Russian attacks on various Democratic Party campaign organizations and the purposeful leaking of tens of thousands of emails and documents was “the political equivalent of 9/11.”

If It Really Happened

It bears repeating: The CIA’s determination that Russia tampered with the U.S. election to favor Donald Trump is beyond serious.

It doesn’t really matter if they put a thumb on the scale, hacked into voting machines or carpet-bombed metropolitan centers on Election Day, though, had the latter occurred, at least then we would know what to do now. They attacked our sovereignty, and as such it could be deemed an act of war. Morell is also right in saying that, “a foreign government messing around in our elections is…an existential threat to our way of life.”

Say what you will (I certainly have) about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, he is absolutely correct in stating that, “the Russians are not our friends.” (Assuming you are willing to forgive and/or forget that he wasn’t correct when he was unwilling to publicly condemn the Russians for meddling before the election.)

Consider for a moment the country and its leader. A career KGB man, Vladimir Putin has been hypercritical of the United States role globally for years — both economically and with regard to military actions — and he has a steady record of undermining U.S. interests, whether on arms treaties or national security issues. There is really no record to point to that might support a view that Putin’s Russia and the U.S. share friendly relations.

So what the hell happened here?

I tried to joke my way out of the stupor caused by the news of Russia’s role in deciding who would be our 45th president with mixed results. Since my work focuses on cybersecurity and online scams, I decided that President-elect Trump had been catphished by President Putin.

Let’s say that’s all we’re looking at here. Catphishing is a scam that involves wooing someone looking for a meaningful relationship first with compliments, then a virtual romance, and then shaking them down for money. In this scenario, the romance-seeker is a highly leveraged businessman with a severe need for validation. Putin the Catphisher saw his mark. The saddest thing here is that the compliment everyone refers to — Putin said Trump was colorful — has been widely mistranslated to “brilliant.” He was more or less saying that Trump was a character.

Meanwhile, the question remains: Was Trump just a victim in Putin’s creel or was there an agreement between the two men?

Our 9/11?

While I appreciate the idea Mr. Morell tried to convey when he made the comparison between Russian interference in our electoral process and 9/11, what we’re dealing with here is even more serious. While the destruction of the World Trade Center resulted in a tragic and unimaginable loss of life, and our sense of security was severely damaged, we were intact as a nation after one of the darkest days in America’s history. Our sovereignty was unaffected — though some might argue that certain liberties, such as our right to privacy, took a hit.

This attack — and it was an unconventional assault involving bots and fake news and other digital outreach tactics — may have put a person in the White House — a man, who, if complicit in that operation, would be guilty of treason. And recent news that Putin handpicked some of the tactics used to sway the election arguably heightens speculation that the president-elect may not have been merely a passive beneficiary.

So, do we become a colony of Russia come January 20? Does Donald Trump, to borrow his oft-used campaign phrase, get “locked up” for high treason? While the Russian installment of their choice for president at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was as unthinkable as this past election cycle was, it has come to pass. The bullet was fired, and we’re just starting to feel the wound it made.

If you think that’s alarmist, you are asleep. Our next president could possibly have been “chosen” through a digital assault. Russia hacked America. Now what?

Adam K. Levin is a consumer advocate with more than 30 years of experience and is a nationally recognized expert on security, privacy, identity theft, fraud, and personal finance. A former Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, Levin is chairman and founder of IDT911 (IDentity Theft 911) and co-founder of Credit.com. Levin is the author of Amazon Best Seller "Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves." Read more of his reports — Go Here Now.

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It is not an overstatement to say that the hacking of the U.S. presidential election could edge us one step closer to the end of our democracy.
president elect trump, putin, russia, hack, cybersecurity
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2016-54-15
Thursday, 15 December 2016 12:54 PM
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