Donald Trump still seems to dispute Russia’s meddling with last year’s US presidential elections, even if all the great intel he’s been getting says otherwise. Furthermore, he keeps insisting there are no hidden ties between him and Russia, and that the entire Russia investigation is a major witch hunt.
But a scathing new report reveals that Russia’s hacks that came to light during the election might be just the tip of the iceberg. Russia’s cyber attacks under Trump have apparently continued after the election showing an impressive degree of sophistication.
What’s more disturbing is that the report is based on information coming from sources familiar with spying operations. And that means Trump may have known all along about Russia’s intensified spying efforts well before inviting Russia officials at the White House.
The fascinating report into Russia’s sophisticated hacking operations against the US comes from Time magazine.
The publication reveals that on March 2nd, a “disturbing report” hit the desks of US counterintelligence officials in Washington — Time makes no reference to Trump seeing the report, but if all these allegations are true, it’s likely the most powerful TV show producer in the country was also informed about the matter since then.
“It described how Russia had already moved on from the rudimentary email hacks against politicians it had used in 2016,” Time writes. “Now the Russians were running a more sophisticated hack on Twitter. The report said the Russians had sent expertly tailored messages carrying malware to more than 10,000 Twitter users in the Defense Department. Depending on the interests of the targets, the messages offered links to stories on recent sporting events or the Oscars, which had taken place the previous weekend. When clicked, the links took users to a Russian-controlled server that downloaded a program allowing Moscow’s hackers to take control of the victim’s phone or computer–and Twitter account.”
What the Russians are looking to do with these operations is to influence in real-time American people who are hooked on social media.
“What chaos could Moscow unleash with thousands of Twitter handles that spoke in real time with the authority of the armed forces of the United States?,” spies investigating the newly discovered Russian attacks wondered. “At any given moment, perhaps during a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, Pentagon Twitter accounts might send out false information. As each tweet corroborated another, and covert Russian agents amplified the messages even further afield, the result could be panic and confusion.”
Time also explains that the first time US officials got wind of Russia’s plans to interfere with the election was all the way back in May 2016. At the time, however, they did not know what to do with that information.
“[A] Russian military intelligence officer bragged to a colleague that his organization, known as the GRU, was getting ready to pay Clinton back for what President Vladimir Putin believed was an influence operation she had run against him five years earlier as Secretary of State,” Time explains. “The GRU, he said, was going to cause chaos in the upcoming US election.”
The report says the attack on the US election has been five years in the making, and that Russia’s current social manipulation powers may be unmatched.
“We are on the verge of having something in the information arena which will allow us to talk to the Americans as equals,” Putin adviser Andrey Krutskikh said in February 2016. He said Russia’s cyber weapons are comparable to the Soviet Union obtaining a nuclear weapon in the 1940s.
“The Russians are 10 years ahead of us in being willing to make use of” social media to influence public opinion, former NSA deputy Chris Inglis said.
Ironically, Russia is using American services like Facebook, Twitter, and Google to influence opinions, while one of the engineers who’s working on these social algorithms has been trained in the US.
Time’s full report is available at this link and it’s worth a read. It will also appear in the May 29th issue of Time.