A muted alarm bell over Russian election hacking

Liz Spayd, Public Editor for the New York Times, writes: Last winter, as primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire headed to the polls, a covert and cunning Russian plot was underway to disrupt the American political process. With aliases like Guccifer 2.0 and Fancy Bear, Russian hackers were targeting critical computer systems.

In June, they struck, hitting the Democratic Party, and by July its chairman was ousted in the fallout. Soon embarrassing emails were spilling from the computers of Hillary Clinton and her staff. Republican officials were hit, too. So was the National Security Agency. Now, hackers are meddling with the voting systems in several states, leaving local officials on high alert. Come Election Day, they’ll find out what, if anything, the cyberspies have in store.

This is an act of foreign interference in an American election on a scale we’ve never seen, yet on most days it has been the also-ran of media coverage, including at The New York Times.

The emails themselves — exposing the underside of the Democratic political machinery, and the conflicts, misjudgments and embarrassing communications of its top ranks — have received bountiful attention. What rarely makes the main narrative is the spy-versus-spy cyberwarfare: the tactics, the players and the government efforts to tame it. In a calamitous campaign unlike any in memory, it’s not surprising that other story lines get squeezed out. But one of the most chilling chapters of this election is the role of Russian intelligence and the growing threat of digital espionage. With days to go, readers have been shortchanged on this part of history. [Continue reading…]

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