Day: December 16, 2020

Background Briefing: December 16, 2020


Why the U.S. is Vulnerable to Cyber and Ransomware Attacks

We begin with the massive hack by the Russian foreign intelligence service the SVR into the State Department, Treasury, Homeland Security, Commerce and the National Institute of Health which happened back as early as March and was only recently detected by the cybersecurity firm FireEye when the SVR tried to hack into them. Alan Paller, the director of research at the SANS Institute, a graduate degree granting institution and the principal cyber security training school who has testified several times before the House and Senate, joins us. We discuss the main reason why the U.S. is vulnerable to these hacks and ransomware attacks, which is the lack of what are called hunters, people with the cyber skills to notice intrusions. Unlike the Russians and Israelis who train hunters in the thousands, the U.S. is way behind and has only recently invested in programs to recruit young cyber security personnel and develop the skills necessary to make up for this deficit which the Russians and others are exploiting.


Trumpsters Lie About a Hack That Did Not Happen While Ignoring the Russian Hack

Then we examine the Russian cyber attack and how it happened and speak with Fred Kaplan, the national security columnist for Slate and the author of Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War. He joins to discuss his article at Slate “The Wrong Hack: Trump has been whining about fake fraud – and ignoring a real cybersecurity crisis.” With today’s Senate hearing on election security led by Republican Ron Johnson a farce except for testimony from Christopher Krebs, the Trumpsters continue to lie about a hack that never happened while ignoring how the Russians have been reading our mail since March.


The Russian Dissident Who Putin Tried to Kill Strikes Back With a Brilliant Video

Then finally we examine the role of Bellingcat in exposing the botched assassination of the Russian dissident Alexei Navalny by the FSB that has now become an Internet sensation with Navalny’s latest You Tube video. Joining us is Michael Gorham, a Professor of Russian Studies at the University of Florida who is an expert on the Russian media and the digital revolution in Russia where the young get their information from the web while older Russians watch Putin’s State TV. We discuss Navalny’s brilliant presentation and it’s likely impact on the man who tried to kill him, Vladimir Putin.