The Scope of Russian Interference Becomes Ever Clearer—and More Appalling

A few important items that warrant attention this morning on the subject of Russian interference and possible collusion:

1. Craig Timberg, Elizabeth Dwoskin, Adam Entous, and Karoun Demirjian at the Washington Post: Russian Ads, Now Publicly Released, Show Sophistication of Influence Campaign. "Lawmakers on Wednesday released a trove of ads that Russian operatives bought on Facebook, providing the fullest picture yet of how foreign actors sought to promote Republican Donald Trump, denigrate Democrat Hillary Clinton, and divide Americans over some of the nation's most sensitive social issues. The ads that emerged, a sampling of the 3,000 that Russians bought during the 2016 presidential campaign and its aftermath, demonstrated in words and images a striking ability to mimic American political discourse at its most fractious. The targeting information also showed a shrewd understanding of how best to use Facebook to find and influence voters most likely to respond to the pitches."

2. Ben Collins and Kevin Poulsen at the Daily Beast: Michael Flynn Followed Russian Troll Accounts, Pushed Their Messages in Days Before Election. "Former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn followed five Twitter accounts based out of the Russian-backed 'troll factory' in St. Petersburg — and pushed their messages at least three times in the month before the 2016 election. ...The Daily Beast had previously discovered Flynn, Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, and Trump campaign digital director Brad Parscale retweeted Ten_GOP several times in the month before the election."

3. David Corn and AJ Vicens at Mother Jones: Hackers Compromised the Trump Organization 4 Years Ago — and the Company Never Noticed.
Four years ago, the Trump Organization experienced a major cyber breach that could have allowed the perpetrator (or perpetrators) to mount malware attacks from the company's web domains and may have enabled the intruders to gain access to the company's computer network. Up until this week, this penetration had gone undetected by [Donald] Trump's company, according to several internet security researchers.

In 2013, a hacker (or hackers) apparently obtained access to the Trump Organization's domain registration account and created at least 250 website subdomains that cybersecurity experts refer to as "shadow" subdomains. Each one of these shadow Trump subdomains pointed to a Russian IP address, meaning that they were hosted at these Russian addresses. (Every website domain is associated with one or more IP addresses. These addresses allow the internet to find the server that hosts the website. Authentic Trump Organization domains point to IP addresses that are hosted in the United States or countries where the company operates.) The creation of these shadow subdomains within the Trump Organization network was visible in the publicly available records of the company's domains.

Here is a list of a Trump Organization shadow subdomains.

The subdomains and their associated Russian IP addresses have repeatedly been linked to possible malware campaigns, having been flagged in well-known research databases as potentially associated with malware. The vast majority of the shadow subdomains remained active until this week, indicating that the Trump Organization had taken no steps to disable them. This suggests that the company for the past four years was unaware of the breach. Had the infiltration been caught by the Trump Organization, the firm should have immediately decommissioned the shadow subdomains, according to cybersecurity experts contacted by Mother Jones.
It suggests the company was unaware of the breach, didn't care, or was aware and complicit.

4. Aruna Viswanatha and Del Quentin Wilber at the Wall Street Journal: U.S. Prosecutors Consider Charging Russian Officials in DNC Hacking Case. "The Justice Department has identified more than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee's computers and swiping sensitive information that became public during the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the investigation. Prosecutors and agents have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year, these people said."

5. Alex Kantrowitz at BuzzFeed: Twitter Offered Russian TV Network 15% of Its Total Share of U.S. Elections Advertising. "Twitter wanted RT to spend big ahead of the 2016 US election, offering a significant portion of its election-related ad inventory in return. The social media company offered the Russian state–owned television network up to a 15% share of voice ('SOV') on US election advertising — or the percent of all ads run on that topic — for $3 million. ...RT declined the offer. 'We do not have any comment on our private conversations with any advertiser, even a former advertiser,' a Twitter spokesperson said. Twitter did not dispute the email's validity." Fucking hell.

And let me emphasize once more that this is all still going on. While the president screams about "fake news" and his party point fingers at Hillary Clinton as a pitiful deflection, the country continues to allow Russia to meddle without consequence, fomenting ever deepening divisions, especially among people who believe Trump that it's all a sham.

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