So is WikiLeaks just another propaganda arm of Russia, or what?
Some are saying it is exactly that.
And what they are doing now, according to a report from The Hill, is working to convince Americans that Russia was not involved in the hack of Democratic National Committee emails during the election, as well as to cast doubts on the credibility of the U.S. intelligence community.
Last week, for example, WikiLeaks dumped a ton of documents, said to be CIA hacking tools and methods, adding that these were used to hack into accounts, and in some cases, could make it look as if other nations (like Russia) or players were the actual culprits.
Fake accounts on Twitter seized on the claim to dispute that Russia sought to interfere in the U.S. election last year, noted Ryan Kalember, senior vice president for cybersecurity strategy at Proofpoint. He described the WikiLeaks release as playing into a larger “disinformation campaign” aimed at undermining the intelligence community’s attribution of cyber attacks, particularly those to Russia.
“That comes out in the WikiLeaks press release and immediately, all of the bots on Twitter who everyone speculates are controlled by agents of a particular government immediately start saying it wasn’t Russia that hacked the DNC, it was the CIA,” Kalember said. “You have this really obvious kind of disinformation campaign that is ready to go as soon as the leak happens.”
The claim is that the CIA can keep a database of malware produced by other nations, then use it to obscure secret hacking operations. The WikiLeaks documents say the operation is called “Umbrage.”
“With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the ‘fingerprints’ of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from,” the press release said.
In addition to providing fodder for Twitter “bots” believed to be tied to Russia, the claims were swiftly highlighted by Russian media outlets and some conservative sites in the United States.
“How CIA steals hacking fingerprints from Russia & others to cover its tracks,” read a Tuesday headline from Russia Today, a Russian state-owned outlet that has “actively collaborated” with WikiLeaks, according to the intelligence community’s January unclassified report about Russia’s election hacking operation.
The CIA has not publicly confirmed the authenticity of the leaked documents, though experts contend that they appear to be real. But experts have also described WikiLeaks’ characterization of the revelations as exaggerated, particularly with regard to allegations about the spy agency hacking television sets and other details that have produced sensational headlines in the media.
I’ve seen those claims all over social media, myself. Oddly, a lot of “egg” people seem to be spreading the stories around.
If you’re not on Twitter, have somebody who is tell you about the egg people.
In January, the CIA and other elements of the intelligence community concluded that the Russian government engaged in a cyber and disinformation campaign against the U.S. presidential election, in part by delivering hacked documents from the DNC and former Clinton campaign chair John Podesta to WikiLeaks.
In addition to sending hacked documents to organizations like WikiLeaks, Russia also used state-sponsored media outlets and paid social media “trolls” — like those active following Tuesday’s document dump — to spread disinformation, according to the intelligence community.
Kalember described the disinformation campaign that resulted on Twitter following Tuesday’s CIA document dump as a “hallmark” of Russia.
“The big story here is, if you were actually trying to undermine a very specific claim that was made by every single one of the U.S. intelligence agencies and corroborated by all of their foreign counterparts, this is how you might do that,” Kalember said. “It wasn’t even subtle. They made memes about it.”
It should raise some questions that as soon as something comes up that might be damaging to Russia or their agents, WikiLeaks suddenly has another major document dump.
This is not a coincidence.