Tags: russia | election | hack | cybersecurity | identity theft

Election Hacking Russians, Identity Thieves Use Similar Tactics

Election Hacking Russians, Identity Thieves Use Similar Tactics
Voters cast their ballot in the national election at Cannon Pavilion on November 8, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Americans are headed to the polls to vote for either Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump or Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and other members of Congress. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

Thursday, 29 June 2017 02:32 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Whether you’re with President Trump and take the stance that Barack Obama should have stopped the Russia menace way before the elections, or you’re with those who suspect collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, one thing is certain: Something happened.

It’s worth looking at certain Obama-related facts, like the one recently reported by The Washington Post, that revealed top-secret CIA intelligence was provided to only four key White House officials last August — Obama being one of them — intelligence that categorically proved direct involvement by Putin in ordering an effort to damage or defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton and to help elect Trump.

But everyone knows Monday morning quarterbacking is a weak move. At the end of the day, it’s a murky story at best with all kinds of "theres" there. It’s worth bearing in mind that plenty of complicating factors were in place way back in August. Trump was no fool. The die was cast to a certain extent when Trump accused then President Obama of taking part in what now-Forty Five was calling a rigged election. This created a situation for Obama. Had he stepped in, Trump was poised for that classic attack that begins, "So when did you stop trying to steal the election?"

What we do know is that Russia played around with the election. There were attempts to alter or delete voter information in Illinois. Campaign finance databases were accessed. I said it in a previous column, but the facts bear repeating. The attacks were focused on voter databases and voting software, and that suggests a specific goal: changing the outcome of an election. There is no disputing that it happened. That it happened in 39 states should send a shudder down your spine.

Now it’s time to suspend judgment. This isn’t going where you think it is.

What if Russia wasn’t trying to alter the outcome of our election, or at least that was not the sole objective — this time around?

In marketing circles, there are dry tests; advertising a product or service that doesn’t exist (it’s for the most part illegal) and there are wet tests, where a sample group is marketed a product or service and the response provides valuable information regarding the viability of a full rollout and how to best conduct that.

What if the Russia interference was a wet test of sorts, where the goal was to figure out the viability (not getting caught, etc.) of rigging a U.S. election?

An Old Identity Theft Trick

Do you remember the $9.84 scam? It happened a few years back in 2014 — more than 740 million credit cards and records were stolen that year — but you still see it from time to time if you watch your credit card statements closely. Consider them "prospecting charges" on your account activity, the thief checking to see if you or your credit card company notices. Look closely for one of these digitally diminutive cousins of the $9.84 scam next time you get got. They are often there.

I bet you know where I’m going with this now. Russia’s incursions may have helped Trump, maybe it didn’t, but I’m more interested in how much it resembled a $9.84 scam. 

Operating in true identity theft fashion, it seems the Russians were playing around in the more obscure byways where things get done. I mention identity theft knowing full well the Russians weren’t trying to game credit cards. Their involvement in our electoral process was pointed at stealing our great nation’s identity.

Just as an identity thief tests the water with that small charge, the Russian hacks were testing out a new way to be aggressive with the United States.

While the notion of a presidential campaign colluding with Russia to affect the outcome of an election is both unprecedented and cause for grave concern, the fact that agents of any foreign government (particularly Russia) were able to penetrate so many voter databases and election systems is downright terrifying. There was just fresh news yesterday of Russian meddling in Montenegro elections. All indications seem to be that election tampering is Russia’s new preferred mode of influence. It seems more and more like politicians come and go, but the Cold War abides.

Adam K. Levin is a consumer advocate with more than 30 years of experience and is a nationally recognized expert on cybersecurity, privacy, identity theft, fraud, and personal finance. A former Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, Mr. Levin is Chairman and founder of CyberScout and co-founder of Credit.com. Adam Levin is the author of Amazon Best Seller "Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves." He is the security and credit expert for ABCNews.com and writes a weekly column for The Huffington Post, Inc. Magazine, The Hill, and Newsmax. Mr. Levin is a go-to expert appearing on many national TV programs including "The Today Show," "Good Morning America," "MSNBC Live," "Fox and Friends," "NBC Nightly News," "ABC World News Tonight," "Cavuto Coast to Coast," "Bloomberg Surveillance," as well as national radio throughout the country. Read more of his reports — Go Here Now.

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Russia’s incursions may have helped Trump, maybe it didn’t, but I’m more interested in how much it resembled a $9.84 scam.
russia, election, hack, cybersecurity, identity theft
Thursday, 29 June 2017 02:32 PM
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