Is the nation now ready to thank Trump and his supporters for getting us sucker-punched by online hackers while Trump and the GOP had us convinced that the Mexican border issue was a dire threat to national security? Accordingly, Trump diverted $271 million Congress had appropriated for disaster aid and cybersecurity to finance his immigration detention and processing facilities.
Pin a rose on all those wise guys and gals. They may have tons of guns and ammo, but who’s going to save us from cyberattacks on the computer infrastructure that now operates to some degree practically everything in the whole country. We’re even connecting our refrigerators, dishwashers and washer/dryers to the big cyber highway.
We’d all better get at least two guns in case “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds,” to quote Trump, decides to take control of our country down to our laundry rooms and kitchens.
In case some of us have forgotten, Trump was all for cybersecurity until his administration began informing him that his mentor Putin was involved in many of the hacking operations threatening our national security at the time.
He really blew a gasket when Chris Krebs, the well-respected head of the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency, publicly insisted that the 2020 election results were not fraudulent and were valid. Trump fired him, as usual, on Twitter.
What no one knew, a “state-sponsored attacker linked to Russia had compromised senior-level Cabinet agencies, implicating huge portions of the government and private sector.” (Russell Brandon, The Verge)
This is, of course, the Solarwinds Breach. Trump responded, “The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality. I have been fully briefed and everything is well under control. Russia … is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the possibility that it may be China. …”
Trump was evidently “briefed” by Putin because his own former Homeland Security officer believes “it could be years before the networks are secure again” (Business Insider) since hackers can now “destroy or alter data, and impersonate legitimate people.” (New York Times) That was in December 2020.
Fast-forward to this month. On May 10, the FBI issued a press release confirming that “Darkside ransomeware is responsible for the compromise of the Colonial Pipeline networks.”
The Colonial Pipeline runs from Houston’s refineries to New Jersey and supplies 45% of the East Coast’s gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, home heating oil, and fuel for the U.S. military.
Darkside, a cybercriminal group, claimed they were only trying to make some money and didn’t want any geopolitical ramifications.
Per Nicolas Rivero for Quartz, most experts claim that Darkside is not a unit of Russia’s intelligence services, nor is it funded or directed by the Kremlin. Darkside and similar groups operate “under the benign neglect of Russian authorities.”
In order to keep Russian officials off their backs, these groups only attack U.S. and western Europe-based companies.
They are concentrated in Russia, although China, North Korea and Brazil also harbor some of these crime syndicates.
The Darkside has attacked our oil and gas infrastructure four times within the past six months per DarkTracer, a cybercrime investigation firm. Although President Biden has publicly announced that he does not believe Russia is directly responsible for the attack, others are speculating that the Kremlin is using the Darkside to “test vulnerabilities in the U.S. energy system” or to embarrass President Biden.
Regardless, Russia now has a blueprint for shutting down much of the East Coast of the U.S. And it has several motives to undermine the U.S., which supports NATO and Ukranian national sovereignty, thus interfering with Putin’s plans to rebuild the old Soviet Union.
Putin clearly got a big headstart on accomplishing his designs due to his success at hoodwinking Trump into thinking they were buddies. And the United States got sucker-punched via cyber even before Trump was out of the White House. The Colonial Pipeline interruption is only the beginning of the damage due to the Trump-Putin affair.
By the way, Axios reported this week that Putin has ordered new gun control regulations after a deadly school shooting in his country. He no longer needs the NRA.