My Deconstruction of the “Russian” malware/power grid hysteria.


I’m perversely intrigued by all these dubious governmental rumblings over the so-called “Grizzly Steppe” malware offensive, ostensibly on the part of Russia. The American government and its lackey cohorts in the MSM have even been so bold as to deem it “Russian” malware, a most laughable description. Can malware be knighted a nationality in this global digital environment?   Can we call that breeze in our window Swedish or that chirping of the sparrow, Dutch?


After malware is written and staged to the internet, and darknet, it is unleashed, and any nation has rights to “claim” it.  Any individual country’s choice to assume a malware’s weaponization is purely its own responsibility, not that of the person who wrote the software.    The free-form, anarchical spirit of hacking renders any national allegiance moot;  sure, states are free to “sponsor” a hacking mission, but given that allegiance in these quarters is only as trustworthy as the size of the paycheck, it is not a wise choice for national entities, at this point in time, to devote concerted resources to such offensive strategies.


But ignoring, for a moment, the fact that the DHS/FBI JAR presents a chain of infection involving a phishing attack that eventually allowed the “Russians” to inject malware into an “un-gridded” laptop computer belonging to Vermont’s Burlington Electric utility hardly embodies a professional, much less threatening, elite Russian hack.  The disconnected, multi-layered approach which pragmatically renders precise geo-location of an internet ping’s source is nothing but fool’s business.  It is the United States government (beholden to insidious motivations) we’re talking about, so a fool’s business shall be done.


Let’s call it Russian malware.  Better yet, let’s use the inflammatory parlance of The Washington Post’s headline yesterday, Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, U.S. officials say.


For this is not simply a matter of a big bad bear hack attack that the U.S. intelligentsia is pawning off on a predominantly ignorant public as a matter of conjuring fear and paranoia (thus eliciting pliability and obsequious perpetuation of the government line which is: Russia, bad, Russia and Donald Trump, evil).


Let’s not even heed the fact that, regardless of how they were procured, Clinton’s email treasure trove detailing psychopathic political strategizing and Podestian nursery school symbolism beg for a response, an explanation; instead, the United States government deflects the asserted substance of the “leaked” emails with nebulous narratives erected on America’s most reliably untrustworthy bogeyman, the Russians.


The Russian hacker scheme is a relentless American yarn.  Intelligence keeps drawing up on all their state-agenda resources in order to manipulate the mainstream media, and in turn, a collectively apathetic and computer illiterate populace. The government throws every digital esoteric term and concept in its arsenal at Americans and trusts that, unfamiliar with such semantics (and lacking the will to self-educate), will blindly shudder at the onslaught of hacking verbiage laced with the tinge of Russian evil.


Russian hackers!


The American government, using a fastidiously propagandized flowchart, goes so far as putting a face on this enigmatic enemy of the state.





Adversary space.  Got it?


The Orwellian framing of this systemic hacker flow doesn’t stop here.


Manipulation of the information channels has begun. Information is filtered, sieved, even mythologized. Narratives are inflamed, swollen, corrupted.


As a case study, I would like to point out what happened with reports of the Russian hack of the Vermont (and United States) power grid on Friday.



A rough timeline (as displayed at the end of this post, below):


At 0055 UTC, 12/31/16, The Washington Post published a story with a rather self-confident headline, Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, U.S. officials say.


At 0237 and 0240 UTC, 12/31/16, respectively, Burlington Electric, one of 2 utility companies operating in Vermont, rushed out a press statement, and linked on Facebook and Twitter.







Essentially, following the implicating Washington Post story, Burlington sprung to action since it most likely initiated the drama on the heels of a Thursday night alert to utility companies from the Department of Homeland Security that all computers should be scanned for a specific malware signature, and lo and behold, Burlington found one. But before given a chance, the press caught whiff of a happening something and went apeshit in their coverage of said fact, failing to thoroughly vet the facts.  Given little choice, Burlington Electric posted a curt and honest statement, within 2 hours, addressing the malware infection found in its system.  The utility’s statement was quite unlike the hyperbole that the U.S. security officials fed the media.







Less than one hour after Burlington Electric’s impromptu F.U. to the government, The Washington Post published a revised version of their first rendition.


Somewhat mild-mannered, the headline in this story, published at 0330 UTC, 12/31/16, seemed less aggrieved: Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say


The Washington Post, perhaps reeling from its clumsy handling of the initial timeline and attributions, published an addendum on yet another, third, version of the story.  This was published at 1650 UTC, 12/31/16, with an identical headline to version #2 from 8 hours earlier.


Much of the text was unchanged, however, at the end of the piece, we find several clarifications.


The first is a perfunctory disclaimer that, in a bashfully understated manner, informs those of us who were paying attention, that the precise verbiage of the original story was misleading (and if you want to take it step further, deceptive).





And  then, as if to politely excuse this foray into journalistic inaccuracy, the Post made it a point to add a few extra seasoned reporters to build trust from that which was lost earlier.





In other words, the original writers caved a bit too willingly to the Federal-intelligence narrative, and in fact, embellished it with a few qualitative bells and whistles of their own, but ultimately, the essence of the first story,  at 12:55am, December 30, reflected that unadulterated BS pomp and circumstance stinking of the Obama agenda.  In fact, it was so egregious that it triggered the Vermont utility company to respond immediately with its own brand of defensive ass-covering, thus snapping in two the governmental narrative, and the story fell to shreds with each subsequent Post revision.


Not too late, however, to herd a whole flock of gentle Americans into blank-eyed acceptance that big bad Russia would resort to using old Ukrainian malware and Tor circuits to hack American elections and power utilities.