Russian Hack Endgame: Cripple U.S. So Bad We Beg for Trump as “President-for-Life”
Current thinking amongst the cybersecurity guys is that the Russians are waiting until Joe Biden is inaugurated, and then they’re going to drop the hammer to try to make him look bad, and make America beg for Trump to come back.
The darker rumors are that Trump is aiding & abetting them in this; that he figures if the utility companies & gas refineries & trucking companies & hospitals & banks all go completely haywire, and that 200 million Americans are shivering & hungry in the dark, with $0.00 in their bank accounts and no gas to put in their cars … that Biden will look like such a disaster that he will be impeached and Trump can claim that he alone can fix things … and then, miraculously, does, and he is named “President-For-Life.”
That seems somewhat far-fetched to me. Somewhat. But it would be in keeping with the “drama queen” thinking of Trump, to stage something like a bad FX thriller to get what he wants.
The Russian hack of our infrastructure, as we are learning, was ALL TIME BAD.
NNSA is responsible for managing the nation’s nuclear weapons, and while it gets the least attention, it takes up the vast majority of DOE’s budget. Similarly, the Sandia and Los Alamos National Labs conduct atomic research related to both civil nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The Office of Secure Transportation is tasked with moving enriched uranium and other materials critical for maintaining the nuclear stockpile.
Hackers may have been casting too wide a net when they targeted DOE’s Richland Field Office, whose primary responsibility is overseeing the cleanup of the Hanford nuclear waste site in Washington state. During World War II and the Cold War, the U.S. produced two- thirds of its plutonium there, but the site hasn’t been active since 1971.
The Department of Energy, which manages the government’s nuclear arsenal, confirmed it had also been hit by the malware but had disconnected affected systems from its network.
It was a measure of the sudden panic sweeping federal offices that the Department of Homeland Security ordered all agencies late Sunday night to shut down any use of a complex piece of network management software made by a company called SolarWinds and installed on networks belonging to government agencies and American corporations.
The order was so urgent that it gave a deadline of noon on Monday for “a completion report” confirming that the software was no longer in use.
But that was clearly too late for intrusions that have been underway for months.
“This is bad. FERC has a lot of sensitive info on all of the biggest utilities,” said Patrick Miller, managing partner at Archer Energy Solutions LLC and a former auditor for the North American Electric Reliability Corp., which oversees U.S. grid cybersecurity. “Really hoping none of that got compromised. Looks like the problem is only getting worse.”