The PJ Tatler

Meet the Real Dukes of Hazard

Last month, Russian hackers made news when they forced the Pentagon to take an email system off-line.

Tip of the iceberg.

Now, there is more information proving that what’s coming from Russia is not love.

F-Secure, a cyber-security services company,  just released a report about “the Dukes.”

That’s the name given to a family of malware that’s been used by hackers based in Russia for an unrelenting seven-year effort to steal secrets from the U.S.

The chief tactic in the campaign is phishing, enticing government idiots to inject malware into their computers by clicking on links in emails or download infected attachments. One popular email distracted readers by temping them with a free video of monkeys playing in an office.  Really? Only an Einstein would click on a file called “Office Monkeys LOL Video.zip.”

The government’s poor cyber-security practices are only part of the problem. U.S. foreign policy isn’t any better.

While it has been widely known that Russia has been one of America’s top enemies on the Internet for some time, this report comes out just as Putin has been schooling Obama on how the U.S. ought to act.  Putin, for example, recently said the U.S. should follow Moscow’s lead in Syria.

That demand follows a deliberate finger in the eye, after Moscow started pouring Russian troops into the country.

Initially, the administration was pretty grumpy, but then quickly folded and accepted a Russian offer of joint talks.

The situation is not much different with America’s other arch cyber-competitor, China.

Obama warned China about cyber-spying ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping ‘s trip to Washington and signaled he would raise the issue during the visit. But, rather than school Xi on bad Chinese behavior, Obama intends to call for “an international framework to prevent the Internet from being ‘weaponized’ as a tool of national aggression….”

The president has also promised sharper responses to Chinese cyber-threats. These warnings come off as pretty hollow threats, because the White House then signaled “the United States does not plan to impose sanctions on Chinese entities for economic cyber-attacks ahead of Xi’s visit to avoid what would be seen as a diplomatic disaster.”

It is more than clear that when it comes to growing threats, the administration’s response is going to continue to be dominated by words over actions.