Russian Hacking Report

CBC: Rafal Rohozinski on Russian Hacking Report

Our own Rafal Rohozinski was on CBC’s Power & Politics discussing the Russian hacking report released by U.S. intelligence officials last week. Listen to the full broadcast below – or catch Rafal at 06:53:

Rafal was invited on the show to discuss the U.S. Intelligence Community Assessment entitled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections“. The report provides an overview of investigations by the FBI, CIA and NSA into alleged hacking and influence operations conducted by Russians during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In providing background context for the Russian hacking report, Rafal explained how the situation has changed:

“We now have what you might call a levelling of the equities. For the last 15 years, since the end of the cold war, we’ve been used to a kind of dominance in the global media where we really didn’t see other countries being able to compete in the same way in the global media space. Russia clearly now can, and does so, both overtly, using things like Russia Today (RT) and its broadcasting, but also covertly, through planting information like we’ve seen disclosed in this report. That latter feature, I think, is the one we should really be worried about.”

For Rafal, there are several issues that make the emerging situation, as described in the Russian hacking report, worrying:

“What it points to is two things. One is, our societies are open societies…and we put a great deal of trust into formal institutions, whether those are media or the emerging field of social media, sort of citizenship journalism being able to narrate or carry the day. If all of sudden this becomes undermined because of the fact that there is a deliberate campaign to create disinformation, then it really starts to go at the…essence and trust of information in our society. The other aspect of it, I think, is the cyber security question. I think Donald trump wasn’t completely out of line in saying that a 14-year-old could have hacked the DNC’s email. The fact that anybody could hack the DNC’s email, extract information from it, and put it online really goes to the roots of the fact that we are way behind the curve in recognizing the…fundamental importance of cyber security to the security, safety, and stability of our political, economic, and social institutions.”

When asked what is to be done, Rafal suggested:

“Let’s start with the basics, we have at the moment a system around global cyber security that has not found a norm that fits for everybody. Coming up with the equivalent of a global arms treaty in cyberspace, coming up with global norms that we all agree upon in terms of where the interference of state into other state activities should begin or end, is probably a starting point. Certainly, I think, cooler heads need to prevail here and the discourse that should be happening between US and Russia, Canada and Russia…and other countries, should be around trying to create what we have created in other areas, whether it’s conventional arms or just recently in the environment, some kind of international convention that allows us to recognize mutual interests but also exclusive interests of states in cyber space.”

Power & Politics is a Canadian television news program focused on national politics. The show airs live daily through the week from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. EST. Rafal appeared on the 6 January 2017 episode.

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