Considered opinion: The Russia connection“The Russians play hard”: Inside Russia’s attempt to hack 2018 — and 2020

By Nick Bilton

So what exactly is Russia planning for the upcoming election? The correct question, a half dozen security and former and current government officials say, is what are they not planning? And there will be new tactics, too. Nick Bilton writes in Vanity Fair that more than one expert told him that Russia will try to go after actual voting booths in smaller, more contentious districts across the country. The world we live in so intertwined with technology that you could imagine hackers disrupting how we even get to the polls on Election Day. Ride-sharing services could be hacked. We’ve already seen instances of hackers faking transit problems on mapping apps, like Waze, to send people in the wrong direction, or away from a certain street. Perhaps most terrifying of all, one former official told Bilton, are the possibilities arising from Russia’s alleged 2015 cyber- on Kiev’s power grid, which plunged the city into darkness.

Nick Bilton has covered Silicon Valley – technology, investments, regulations, and more — for decades, “but these days the biggest technology story is occurring at the heart of the nation’s capital,” he writes in Vanity Fair.

He had already met with current and former intelligence and security officials, researchers from think tanks, and experts, and he was now meeting with some of them in a dark bar not too far from the National Mall. “Each spoke articulately and cogently about the threats posed to the 2018 midterms by Russia. I’ve been reporting cyber-security and hacking for well over a decade, and even unearthed some truly scary stuff—like the chilling manifest destiny of fake news—in the process. But what I learned that day, and particularly in that bar, scared the shit out of me.”

The meeting began with small talk – small Washington, D.C. talk, that is. “Would the Democrats retake the house? Would Donald Trump win re-election in 2020? Or would his chaotic presidency all come crashing down far, far sooner?”

One former official simply shook his head side to side. “Russia is going to do everything it can to ensure that doesn’t happen,” he said. “They’ll hack the voting booths, if they haven’t already; they’ll quadruple their efforts on media; they’ll do things we”—he pointed to me, then himself —“haven’t even thought of yet.” When I asked what we can do to stop them, he said, as if imitating the voice-over for a horror-movie trailer, “These are all things that have been in the works since the day Trump won two years ago.”



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