back to article Think the US is alone? 18 countries had their elections hacked last year

While America explores quite how much its election was interfered with by outsiders, the news isn't good for the rest of us, according to independent watchdog Freedom House. In its annual Freedom of the Net [PDF] report on the state of the internet and democracy, the group surveyed 65 nation states comprising 87 per cent of …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who is Marc Rich?

    "While America explores quite how much its election was interfered with by outsiders"

    Again and again, the sore losers demand we all believe their assertion that they wuz robbed!!!

    America will be doing no such thing, however. We're way too busy wondering how our intelligence services became playthings of the Clinton Crime Family.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who is Marc Rich?

      they wuz robbed!!!

      Aww don't be hard on them John, they are still a few indictments short of clarity.

      "Destroying the Illusion" makes some good self help videos BTW.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Who is Marc Rich?

        What nobody wants to admit is that any decent Democratic candidate would have beaten Trump by a landslide. The only Democrat who would have done worse is Bernie Sanders.

        On the other hand, any decent Republican would have beaten Clinton by a landslide.

        If we get the politicians we deserve, the Americans have done something really bad!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Who is Marc Rich?

          > "What nobody wants to admit is that any decent Democratic candidate would have beaten Trump by a landslide."

          Precisely! Too bad there weren't any decent Dems ready to hand. Well no, there are some of those, but they had no more chance than Bernie against Ma Clinton's iron grip on the DNC, and her mountains of dirty money too.

          We might have had a better Republican as well, except that the GOP had (until now) been suborned by entrenched Uniparty types like John McCain. The GOP has lucked out tho, and is now in the process of purging such social parasites on the body politic. I guess it requires a mouthy bastard like Trump to effect such a purge properly.

          The Dems, sadly, are still in the grip of their own elitists. It may be many years before the stench of the Clintons can be expelled to the outer darkness.

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Who is Marc Rich?

          Decent candidates

          I saw a list and thought that the red team had some pretty shit ones.

          A creationist, so they let the mentally impaired stand for president as well as sexual assulters.

          I was surprised the Bush was not chosen.

          Blue team, I can only remember the very old chap (Bernie Sanders) and Hillary Clinton.

          Was a worse selection than we had early this year with May Corbyn and the other chap.

          1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

            Re: Who is Marc Rich?

            Precisely, it was a bad batch of candidates all the way around. I also fear it's going to be that way for quite some time since the potentially decent candidates either won't run because they realize they are far more effective operating outside the government and aren't megalomaniacs or they choose to run as a third party candidate because they would never fit into either the red or blue camp since both controlled by the 25-30% that makes up their party's base. It's also the base of each camp that precludes any possibility of a decent candidate from rising within either camp since they will have to pander to the base.

            Does it bother anyone else that Al Qaeda translates as "the base" and the major parties are constantly leaning on or trying to mobilize their base? Not saying they're the same but all make extensive use of fear tactics.

    2. Danny 5
      Facepalm

      Re: Who is Marc Rich?

      Does it matter whether or not the foreign attempts at manipulation were successful? Let's assume that Trump won the election fair and square and the foreign influence wasn't strong enough to have a serious effect, don't you want to know how much effort was put into said manipulation and who the source was?

      Your attitude seems to reflect a stance of "well they broke into my house, but they didn't take any of MY stuff, so I don't care". Next time it may be your favorite candidate that gets hacked and it might be so severe that he loses the election over it, wonder if you're going to shrug your shoulders all the same when that happens.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Who is Marc Rich?

      America will be doing no such thing, however. We're way too busy wondering how our intelligence services became playthings of the Clinton Crime Family.

      Seriously? I thought we had other worries like jobs, health insurance, N. Korea, etc., etc. I guess I must be missing all the headlines about the Clintons.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who is Marc Rich?

        > "I guess I must be missing all the headlines about the Clintons."

        That's what happens when you get all your news from CNN and MSNBC.

      2. Chemical Bob
        Devil

        Re: Who is Marc Rich?

        " I thought we had other worries like jobs, health insurance, N. Korea, etc., etc."

        It's simple, really. You aren't a Real American if you're concerned about those things.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The use of paid commentators and political bots to spread government propaganda was pioneered by China and Russia but has now gone global," said Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House.

    Somebody apparently did not do too well in their Bible (or possibly Torah) class. Trolling and agents provocateurs were already old when the new testament was written. Just go and reread Luke 11:37-54.

    Why do those damn Rusians always claim to have invented everything?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That was the Soviets, not Russians per se. But we do owe some of our inventions to the Russian people:

      Vodka

      Lots of great classical music

      The concept of defense in depth

      Suicidally long winters

      AK-47

      Artificial satellites

      ICBMs

      Borscht

      The first monorail (horse-drawn)

      And the coolest of all inventions, the Gyrocar

      1. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: Russian Inventions

        Ekranoplan!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't worry...

    ... the Ruddites here in the UK will soon ban unapproved unlicensed VPN's and end-to-end encryption (even if they are knowingly ignorant of the consequences). Time to get those one-time PADs out.

    The release of this report would also explain the content of the Wooden Lady's speech at the City of London Lord Mayor's Banquet last night. Given that Parliament has just kicked her wooden teeth in, that speech looks like a solid mahogany squirrel.

    Don't worry, the dendrochronologist will see you now dear.

    1. Danny 5
      Thumb Up

      Re: Don't worry...

      The wooden lady, that's brilliant!

  4. scrubber
    Alert

    Hacked?

    The only people that 'hacked' the US election were the Democrats who had more than a finger on the scale in the primaries.

    Frankly, if Russia can spend $100k on Facebook and affect an election where Hillary spent well over $1bn then good luck to them and the American voters deserve to be disenfranchised as they clearly cannot be trusted with important decisions.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Hacked?

      And, interestingly, that hack occured internally at the DNC headquarters. Former NSA guys conducted a study, and found that the transmission rates of the emails were at the maximum about ~38MB/s. The best speed they could come up with coming from Europe was a data transfer from New Jersey to London, which gave about ~10MB/s. Now if the Russians were hacking the DNC coming from the Ukraine or wherever, they would not have been able to download those files at the recorded speed without being in the building.

      Add to this, Donna Brazil in her new book has said the hack started from a DNC staffer listening to a voicemail message left by a Russian pretending to be a reporter. That voicemail message, apparently, allowed the Russians to hack in to the servers and steal the emais. That's the story coming from the DNC. And the above paragraph comes from guys working with the NSA, who as we all know wouldn't miss a webcam girl farting on camera to some guy in India. Nothing goes on without them knowing. And even they didn't see this hack occur.

      Who are you going to believe?

      1. handleoclast

        Re: Hacked?

        @wolfetone

        I read the guy's analysis and he made several assumptions without justification. A big one was assuming timezone settings accurately reflected location. Another big one was that an office of several people where internet access was important would have a domestic internet connection rather than one more appropriate to the size of the operation.

        He also ignored the possibility of a local (ish) zombie machine being used as a transfer buffer.

        I remain unconvinced either way.

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: Hacked?

          You have to also remember that the NSA are the only security agency in the USA that said it couldn't be proved beyond doubt the "hack" originated from Russia. The FBI and the CIA were quick to say it came from Russia, but neither of those have the ears the NSA do in terms of network capabilities.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hacked?

            I use Occam's Razor. Why posit a complicated and unlikely remote hack when there were staffers in position to do the job internally? Add to that the fact that they all knew how Bernie had been screwed over by Clinton. And remember, one of those staffers was gunned down late at night on the street just a week after the purloined emails showed up in public. The victim's valuables were not touched. The DC cops, fully controlled by Democrat mayors since the stone age, claim it was a "botched robbery," but there's no evidence to back that up.

            So the simple answer is that Rich was mad about how Hillary shafted Bernie and he wanted revenge. Being a DNC insider, he was well aware of all the dirt available and he availed himself of it. Once the emails appeared, Hillary and her people were able to figure out who had done it and shortly thereafter the squealer was offed.

            Alternatively, some violent Hillary hireling might have taken it upon himself to punish Rich. But either of those scenarios is more believable than the convoluted Russian hack theory + a highly coincidental but supposedly unrelated murder. Particularly after a year when the Dems tried to claim Trump was colluding with the Russians, while all along it was THEM doing the colluding via that dirty dossier and Uranium1 bribe taking.

          2. handleoclast

            Re: Hacked?

            @wolfetone

            You have to also remember that the NSA are the only security agency in the USA that said it couldn't be proved beyond doubt the "hack" originated from Russia.

            I can't even prove beyond doubt that I'm me, but I'm fairly certain of it. There's a big difference between saying it can't be proved beyond doubt that it was Russia and saying that it wasn't Russia. The spectrum goes something like:

            * It was definitely Russia

            * It can't be proven beyond doubt that it was Russia (but it almost certainly was)

            * We don't have a clue who did it

            * It can't be proven beyond doubt that it wasn't Russia (but it almost certainly wasn't)

            * It definitely wasn't Russia

            The gulf between "we can't prove beyond doubt it was Russia" and "it was a local hack" is very wide. It gets even wider if you go for "it was a local hack and Russia wasn't involved in any way."

            So I remain unconvinced it was a local hack, because the analysis made a couple of unstated assumptions that weren't justified. And I remain unconvinced that, whether local or remote, Russia wasn't behind it.

            1. wolfetone Silver badge

              Re: Hacked?

              "The gulf between "we can't prove beyond doubt it was Russia" and "it was a local hack" is very wide. It gets even wider if you go for "it was a local hack and Russia wasn't involved in any way.""

              No it isn't. They looked at the file, the size of it, forensically. The file could not have been downloaded via a network. It was downloaded locally. They have the transmission rates which could only be attained via local access.

              That's beyond doubt.

              1. handleoclast

                Re: Hacked?

                @wolfetone

                They have the transmission rates which could only be attained via local access.

                If you make four assumptions:

                1) An office with many people in a big city had only a crappy ADSL connection and not something better. This can be checked, but the analysis you quote did not do so.

                2) Both machines were set to the same timezone. This cannot be checked.

                3) Both machines had their timezones set correctly for their physical location. This can be checked for only the target machine, but the analysis you quote did not do so.

                4) Both machines had their clocks set correctly. This can be checked only for the target machine, but the analysis you quote did not do so.

                In any case, the guy didn't do a forensic analysis, because he was not part of any law-enforcement organization. He did a technical analysis and, to my mind, a rather sloppy one. I'm not saying his conclusions were wrong but that they cannot be guaranteed to be correct.

                But let's assume it was purely a local hack by an insider. You still have not shown anything to exclude the guy doing it at the behest of the Russians. Or even that he did it for other reasons and later decided to give it to the Russians (so the Russians wouldn't have instigated it but still benefited from it).

                The most you have in favour of saying Russia wasn't behind it is that the NSA won't commit to being absolutely certain it was Russia.

                Oh, and if rsync was installed on the target machine (it's standard with good OSes and a bolt-on with Windows), then any estimate of transmission rate could be wildly off if this was a lengthy attack and the data in the analysis applies to a final catch-up rsync.

                As I have said twice already, I remain unconvinced either way. But if somebody put a gun to my head and forced me to make a bet, my money would be on Russia.

                1. wolfetone Silver badge

                  Re: Hacked?

                  Can you get a transmission rate of over ~38MB/s from America to Russia? Or actually, America to anywhere in Europe?

                  Because it's a tall order.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hacked?

      Not really. US elections were stolen by Australian agents.

      I suppose Fox should register just like RT.

  5. Field Commander A9

    Praise the mother land!

    No elections = No elections hacked!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's some food for thought.

    If Russia or someone else is trying to destabilise the west with election rigging then why didn't the racist f*cknuggit le pen get into power in France?

    Why did Helmut Merkel get back into power in Germany?

    Answers on a postcard please otherwise I'm calling b*llocks on this whole "the internet made me do it" bullsh*t.

    1. Outer mongolian custard monster from outer space (honest)

      They did their best with Le Pen believe me (I work in network security and reside in France). There was a massive leak during the purdue prior to voting smearing macron and others with real emails chopped with fake ones, and all sorts of other stuff going on via twitter etc. Most of the twitter stuff however was in either english or very bad google translate french and the leak was widely seen but read with caveats due to the obviousness of its timing, so it missed the mark significantly.

      And happily as a result, Le pencil brain got battered in the polls.

    2. Prosthetic Conscience
      Black Helicopters

      They tried with France; and Germany is already "destabilized" in their eyes with the fugee crisis, which btw is the doing of the same mostly non-European actors.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        which btw is the doing of the same mostly non-European actors.

        Putin must be overjoyed that so many Syrian refugees went north to Turkey rather than south to Jordan. Erdogan's autocratic tendencies were encouraged by domestic turmoil and the understandable response he's received to that from the West is slowly turning him away from NATO and towards Russia, which would be a strategic disaster for NATO

        I hate to think what the picture is going to look like in five years' time. The only way I can see of heading it off is a coup against Erdogan.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Putin must be overjoyed that so many Syrian refugees went north to Turkey rather than south to Jordan.

          Most Syrian refugees did not have much choice of where to go - the ones who managed to escape were lucky to have an open route to a reasonably safe country. Even so, more than 1.2 million of them ended up in Jordan as of 2015, and likely more arrived since then[*]. That's more than 12% of the entire population of that country.

          In comparison, Turkey had "only" 3.2 million Syrian refugees as of 2017 (4% of the total population, which is still an awful lot to cope with). However, the country which is pulling way more than its share of the Syrian civil war's fallout is Lebanon - it had 2.2 million refugees as of 2015, dropping to 1 million by now. That's whooping 35% (16%) of the country's permanent population. Think about this, and how much strain it must be for a country which is already devastated by decades of its own civil wars.

          So, as usual, the poorest countries end up holding the can - not those who have encouraged the civil war in the name of democracy and are now actively working to prolong it to preserve their geopolitical interests. The most recent refugee figures on Wikipedia [**] are 16 thousands for the USA, some 9 thousands for the UK, 7 thousands for Russia, and less than 1 thousand each for Iran and Israel. The only two active sponsors of the Syrian conflict to pick up a non-negligible number of refugees are the above-mentioned Turkey and Saudi Arabia (with about 500 thousands).

          Was the outcome worth the devastation inflicted on one of the most beautiful countries of the Middle East?

          [*] The number of Syrian refugees registered in Jordan is currently much less, at around 660 thousands (7% of the country's population), as many refugees have moved on to countries further abroad. That's not terribly surprising: most of the refugees in Jordan are kept at a giant refugee camp close to the border. They are only allowed to leave the camp if they have relatives in the rest of the country, already have a job offer, or obtained entry documents to a third country - so they have very little possibility of establishing themselves in Jordan.

          [**] Yeah, I know this is lame - but I can't be arsed to look for the primary sources, and the numbers look about right.

    3. lglethal Silver badge
      Go

      "If Russia or someone else is trying to destabilise the west with election rigging then why didn't the racist f*cknuggit le pen get into power in France?

      Why did Helmut Merkel get back into power in Germany?"

      Might i suggest that the People in Germany and France are better educated and naturally more suspicious of politicians than Americans?

      Additionally, France and Germany have multiple political parties and People are less likely to continuously vote for a single Party. In America, you have a choice between Republicans and Democrats and People follow them religiously (by the way the rest of the world thinks that's utterly insane!). So no matter how sh%t you think the policies and candidates of your Party are, Americans will still vote for them or at worst will just not vote, but they will never vote against their Party. In Europe, you just vote for whichever Party matches your tastes in this election. That makes it far harder to influence an election and far less likely that you'll end up with extremists (like Trump) in power.

      1. naive

        >Might i suggest that the People in Germany and France are better educated and naturally more

        > suspicious of politicians than Americans?

        If there was any, this would earn a prominent rank on the list of the best jokes in 2017.

        Dozens of Germans and French were squashed like flies on the pavements in several cities. People were executed like animals during music concerts. A complete list of recent terrorism in Europe with a religious background would be quite long. Economic growth in the Euro zone is anemic at best, while it soars in the US since president Trump was elected.

        Interesting is what these "better educated" French and Germans did with this information.. They re-elected the tax money gobbling libtards who are directly responsible for these murders on innocent citizens. But that was because the "Russians" did not "hack" the elections, since "Russians" are always the cause of losing elections in libtard speak.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Dozens of Germans and French were squashed like flies on the pavements in several cities.

          [...]

          Interesting is what these "better educated" French and Germans did with this information..

          I can't speak for the French, not living there and everything. I do live in Berlin, though - and I was at the Christmas market in Breitscheidplatz two days before the last year's attack [by a curious coincidence, I was in Milan when Anis Amri (the attacker) was killed there a few days later]. I believe this gives me some insight in what Germans did with this information - even if I am not a German citizen myself.

          They added some engineering protection measures and some extra police to crowded public spaces. They added security checkpoints at the entrances of major public events - mostly to frisk people for knives and IEDs. Other than that, they continued with their normal lives and refused to give in to fear. They did not suspend civil liberties. They did not shut down immigration and travel. They did not start to build the wall. They did not attack some random Muslim country. Most people here also understand that it is impossible to eliminate the possibility of a terror attack, and know that the chances of being injured or killed in one are still way below the risks we take in normal, everyday activities.

          All in all, not too dissimilar to the way Londoners reacted to the recent attacks there, I gather.

          Refusing to give in to the terrorist hysteria is a sign of a stable and mature society. Whether it has anything to do with the level of education of an average citizen I cannot rightfully say.

          1. Alister Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Refusing to give in to the terrorist hysteria is a sign of a stable and mature society. Whether it has anything to do with the level of education of an average citizen I cannot rightfully say.

            Well said AC.

        2. Terrance Brennan

          You are an embarrassment to Americans everywhere. The Ugly American lives and occupies the White House with help from small-minded, greedy twits like yourself. It's all praise and glory for the idea of the Constitution; but, thinly disguised contempt for the actual ideas it contains; after all, ideas are dangerous! Regurgitating the myth of rugged individualism while ignoring the words of Ben Franklin, who was actually there at the beginning : "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." Why is corporate welfare acceptable; but, helping individuals, including those actively injured in the past by government and/or government policies, not.

      2. Aodhhan Bronze badge

        Funny...

        I guess Germans and French are so highly educated they've become lazy; since, they've attributed a lot less to modern technology and assistance to other nations than the US, UK, and many other countries.

        The Germans and French are so highly educated, their GDP, GNP, and most other economic indicators is less than US, UK and other nations.

        I'm not sure what you're education is in, but it sure isn't in foreign studies, economics, military, technology or anything outside of the fast food industry; which by the way, is calling for you.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I guess Germans and French are so highly educated they've become lazy; since, they've attributed a lot less to modern technology and assistance to other nations than the US, UK, and many other countries.

          Citing from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_development_aid_country_donors:

          Net official development assistance by country as a percentage of gross national income in 2015

          1. Sweden – 1.40%

          6. United Kingdom – 0.71%

          9. Germany – 0.52%

          11. France – 0.37%

          20. United States – 0.17%

          So, Germany and France do give considerably less per capita than the UK. Either is still a much larger per-capita donor than the US (bomb donations excluded).

          The Germans and French are so highly educated, their GDP, GNP, and most other economic indicators is less than US, UK and other nations.

          Citing from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP%29_per_capita

          GDP per capita, CIA data in US$:

          1. Liechtenstein - $139K

          13. USA - $57K

          19. Germany - $48K

          27. UK - $42K

          28. France - $42K

          So UK and France have roughly the same per-capita GDP, while USA is somewhat higher. Germany is somewhere in between.

          Your hat really belongs on your head, not in your mouth, my dear chap.

    4. Aodhhan Bronze badge

      Think about it for several minutes...

      If you're going to try to destabilize a county, you will do everything possible to help the least popular candidate gain office. This way, the majority of the people already distrust who is in office, and it becomes a powder keg just waiting for a spark.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So in the days when the population's primary source of news and opinion was print, tv and radio - you reckon none of this happened? This isn't a new phenomenon, just a new media.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A fine report!

    it omits - perhaps as is to be expected given the input from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor - any mention of squirrel launched Color/Colour Revolution - one major reason why some countries are analysing/blocking services that sometimes pretend to be VPN etc.

    great work chaps, keep monitoring those unmentionables

    sadly , however, with this sort of psycho-shit[1] being studied by every TLA, the future is bleak?

    [1]https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/nov/13/facebook-likes-targeted-advertising-psychological-persuasion-academics-research

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What does it matter anymore?

    Politics are just like sports and religion. It's pay to play, keep with the norm or get drummed out.

    Just another game for the rich boys to play, and the pathetic to dream about "change".

  10. jason 7

    Hacked machines?

    So why not just use slips of paper and write a cross on them?

    Is it that hard?

    1. Solo Owl

      Re: Hacked machines?

      Paper ballots can be hacked. For example: Crooked politicians counting ballots with bits of pencil lead hidden under their fingernails can cause a ballot to have votes for two candidates for the same office, so the ballot will be invalid.

  11. Sammy_b

    "14 countries this year passed some kind of legislation to restrict internet use" Wow. I remember reading about ExpressVPN being banned in China, but 13 other countries?

    1. jason 7

      give it another year or three and it will be half the world+.

      We are all going into lock down. The powers that be need to get us under control before the majority find out what's really going on and want to do something real about it.

      All part of the big plan.

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