RUSSIA: THE KREMLIN HACKED… BUT WHO WAS THE CULPRIT? THE ...September 20, 2015
This one was shared by Ms. K.M., and it's a story that I have to pass along to you, with our usual high octane speculation. The article is a short one, but it contains one little bit of a bombshell right at the very end, that makes one wonder: is there a wider context in play?
Before we get to that "wider context" however, here's the article:
Before we get to the high octane speculation, a bit of history might be in order. During the Reagan administrations, there was a scandal - still going on according to some investigators, and it is in fact a view that I share -- involving the INSLAW corporation, its founder, Mr. William Hamilton, and a piece of sophisticated software his company had been developing for the Department of Justice, then under the oversight of Reagan appointee Attorney General Ed Meese. This software, called PROMIS (PROsecutor's Management Information Software) was allegedly stolen by the DOJ, and then underwent several modifications at various CIA fronts, which included the incorporation of backdoors which would allow anyone installing the software to snoop on the computer networks it infected. The software itself was a prime plumb for various reasons, not the least of which was its alleged ability to read any type of database composed in any type of code. It thus became a prime candidate for other types of modifications for financial and intelligence purposes. The story goes that some versions were sold to Israel, which nation's famous Mossad intelligence service then modified it yet again with more backdoors of its own, and then leaked the software to rival Arab nations, such as Egypt and Iraq. Investigative journalist Daniel Casolaro was hired by Mr. Hamilton to investigate the theft of his software, and Casolaro did that, and then some, uncovering a huge rogue international network of spies, drug traffickers, weapons smugglers, and financial fraud that all had one thing in common: INSLAW's PROMIS software. Casolaro, for his efforts, was suicided and found in a bathtub in his motel room with several slashes on both arms, one of many deaths surrounding the INSLAW case.
So where does Russia fit into all of this? During the same time period that INSLAW's powerful software was being stolen and modified, the new French government of President Francois Mitterand had a sudden intelligence windfall: a high-ranking Soviet KGB Colonel with access to sensitive KGB files offered to spy for France. French counter-intelligence ran this colonel for years as a French mole within the KGB until he was eventually discovered, arrested, and eventually executed for treason by the Soviets, but not before he may have done significant damage to the entire KGB intelligence apparatus, and more importantly, significant damage to actual physical infrastructure inside the Soviet Union. The KGB Colonel, whom the French had codenamed "FAREWELL," had obtained the KGB's "technology shopping list" of items it wanted to steal from the West and bring to the Soviet Union, among which was (you guessed it), computer software.
When Presidents Mitterrand and Reagan met for the first time in Montreal, during a "lull" in the conversations, and when their aides were conveniently out of earshot, President Mitterrand reportedly informed President Reagan of the French mole, and as proof of the fact, provided Reagan with a copy of the KGB's "shopping list." From here, the story took a definite INSLAW-PROMIS twist, as American intelligence saw to it that the KGB was able to steal the software - which some, this author included, assume was some version of PROMIS - which software had been doctored by the addition of a covert backdoor which allowed the US access to sensitive Soviet computer networks. A few months later, this was supposedly used to create a malfunction on a Soviet gas pipeline, which blew up with such force that the explosion approached the yield of a small nuclear weapon, and which was visible in space. Thus was put to rest the notion that France never spies on anyone, and that the USA never uses its cyber capabilities to physically damage its geopolitical opponents.
In the wake of the disaster and the apprehension of "FAREWELL" by Soviet counter-intelligence, the result is easily predictable: the Soviets would have made an extremely careful and thorough review of the entire operation, and accordingly, devoted increased resources to their own cyber warfare security and offensive capabilities. We know the result, as Russian cyber-warfare experts are reputedly some of the finest in the world.
Which brings us at last to today's unusual story, and these statements:
Reuters said the attack targeted the election commission in Russia.
“Defense systems worked though it was not easy,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, the Hill reported. “The attack was rather strong.”
Peskov said Russian authorities haven’t yet determined the source of the attack, but said it was tied to Sunday’s political elections. That race only allowed one opposition candidate to run against the Kremlin-backed politico – a controvsial limit that angered many seeking fresh faces in the government.
“Given that, you will certainly be interested to know that from 5 to 10 a.m. on Sunday a very powerful attack was simultaneously carried out on the Russian president’s website,” Peskov said.
“Someone tried to hack our website and alter the data there, making 50,000 requests per minute,” said Russian Central Election Commission Chairman Vladimir Churov, at the press conference. “They failed and we have already established the culprit – it’s a company based in San Francisco.” (Emphases added)