If this keeps up, the list of entities not hacked by Russian intelligence will be shorter than the list of those who have. [Caution: autoplay annoyance ahead.]
Hackers thought to be working for Russian intelligence have carried out a series of cyber breaches targeting reporters at the New York Times and other US news organizations, according to US officials briefed on the matter.
The New York Times has brought in investigators to “assess the damage.” If anything truly damaging was obtained during the hack, there’s a good chance we’ll all get a chance to see it. While national security investigators are theorizing that the Russian hackers’ targeting of non-government organizations is designed to give them a look at the government’s inner workings without actually having to breach a government server, there’s also the possibility that this hacking is more aligned with the focus of the Democratic National Committee hack: to find something potentially embarrassing and publish it for the world to see.
According to the CNN article, Clinton’s campaign believes the DNC hack was politically-motivated. Hardly unsurprising, considering most Russian hacking attempts are propelled by politics. The claim that Russia wants Trump to win the election isn’t an entirely outlandish theory. If so, the hacking of news agencies may be similarly motivated. The press hasn’t been shy about pointing out Trump’s lies and bad behavior, so it could be hackers are seeking communications pointing to an anti-Trump conspiracy.
It’s likely they’ll find evidence that fits this description, but it’s hardly a conspiracy, no matter how theorists choose to spin it. Donald Trump is an exceptional presidential candidate — and not in the most favorable definition of that term. While most candidates would at least pay lip service to presenting a unified front, Trump has been intentionally divisive, setting up “us vs. them” narratives that go beyond simple Republican vs. Democrat terms and deep into the party he supposedly represents.
Beyond the alleged backing of Trump, there’s more to be gained than simply pointing out the media’s transparent disdain for the Republican candidate. There are also leaked — but unreleased — documents stored on agencies’ servers.
News organizations are considered top targets because they can yield valuable intelligence on reporter contacts in the government, as well as communications and unpublished works with sensitive information, US government officials believe.
It could very well be that the Russian government is seeking to provoke a cyberwar, utilizing hackers to fire its opening salvos. There’s also money to be made — on both sides — from a variety of cybersecurity firms who will do all they can to turn high-profile hacking into a multi-decade cyber-Cold War that will provide them with plenty of lucrative contracts. So, instead of seeing these attacks as a very normal state of affairs, hyperbolic theorizing will take precedence over more measured responses.