Hacked emails are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. This week’s Godiva gourmet sampler offered a ton of emails from high up Democrats who were part of a coordinated effort to undermine Bernie Sanders’ campaign. Cue angry protests by Bernie fans, a high profile resignation, and many Democratic fingers pointed sternly at Russia. Trump then (apparently sarcastically) invited Russia to illegally hack into Clinton’s email server, prompting some serious eyebrow-raising from the media and questions from conspiracy theorists about the extent of Russia’s potential involvement in the outcome of the 2016 election. Given that Russia seemingly has the capability and motive to do so, just how likely is it that Putin could influence America’s political race?
Russia said nyet to being involved in the hacking and accused Washington politicians of often playing the Russia card to profit their own campaigns. In which case the hacking could possibly be the work of criminal hacker groups with no government connection. It’s also unusual for a state-sponsored organisation to firstly hack information not related to security, strategic or economic data, and secondly to release any stolen information via an organization like WikiLeaks. But that hasn’t stopped many from assuming that Russia is still in Cold War mode and is using subterfuge to interfere in a geopolitical rival's politics, in an attempt to shape events to their own advantage.
Trump’s reckless remarks and Clinton’s premature accusations aside, strategic cyber warfare is a legitimate and growing threat and countries like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea keep popping up on the West’s cyber espionage radar. But despite the fact that thousands of attacks occur every year, including on top US federal agencies, most of the battles go largely unseen and unheard of by the public. If the end goal of the hackers (nicknamed, for reals, Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear) is to create chaos and thus weaken Russia’s enemies, then the Democratic email scandal could be just the tip of the iceberg. Bozhe moi.
Feel that a private life equals a happy life? Movie for your Russian mood: Anna Karenina