Putin says patriotic Russians may be involved in hacking.
Recent announcements have shed new light on the great American election hacking scandal. At the heart of the issue has been intentional collusion between key members of the Republican party and Russian operatives, allegedly working for Vladimir Putin. While that expensive Congressional investigation continues at a snail’s pace, newly uncovered security failures may have just as much responsibility.
Earlier this month, Putin denied any collusion with Trump’s campaign team or Washington insiders who worked against a Clinton victory, while at the same time casually praising Russian hackers as “patriotic” individuals who work like “artists” each day on their activities. In an interview with the BBC, Putin denied any personal or state involvement in hacking the US election, though.
There’s a piece of the puzzle that’s truly concerning, namely the intentionally unsecured databases containing personal information for nearly every American voter. UpGuard security analyst Chris Vickery not only discovered personal data profiles for nearly every registered US voter, but also indicated that the database belonging to the Republican party had been changed from the default private setting on Amazon’s servers to a public setting. This might indicate that the information was simply placed online for hackers to find rather than a part of any traceable collusion.
This “our hands are clean” mentality is certainly not an isolated tactic. Earlier this year, a hacker by the name WachulaGhost made headlines for taking over ISIS-related social media accounts and using them to spread pro-LGBTQ messages and pornography. His goal in hacking is to do what the US government and the social media platforms themselves aren’t doing, which is to gather information on the account holders and then stop their recruitment activities. While some government agencies have condemned his efforts – not because they’re technically illegal, but because “keeping the accounts active lets us know what those guys are doing” – other international government and citizens themselves have praised the data collection and disruption that WachulaGhost is involved in.