Propaganda by stealth

by on August 3, 2017 in Media Comment

Propaganda doesn’t have to be full-on. It can be quite subtle. Here’s an example from the Guardian – that amplifier for the State Department:

It appears in a story about a British IT Security consultant being arrested by the FBI on charges related to creating hacking tools:

It [the WannaCry malware] moved particularly quickly through corporate networks thanks to its reuse of security exploit, called EternalBlue, first discovered by the NSA before being stolen and leaked by an allegedly Russian-linked hacking group called The Shadow Brokers.

A reader who was not all that tech-savvy reading the above might think that ‘EternalBlue’ was something which just exists in reality and which was (as the text says) ‘discovered’ by NSA (National Security Agency – US Intelligence). In fact: EternalBlue was one of numerous pieces of malware developed by the NSA in order to conduct espionage campaigns against third-party targets. (These targets included commercial companies as well as governments). EternalBlue was indeed ‘stolen’ (in as much as one set of criminals can steal from another) and then made publicly available.

A subtle difference? Not really: discovering an exploit is one matter. Producing a piece of malware which uses the exploit to intrude into systems is something else altogether. The NSA did the latter; not the former, as the Guardian would have you believe.

It was this malware which was obtained and then made publicly available by the ShadowBrokers. Edward Snowden, and others, believed that Russia was behind the ShadowBrokers. (The idea was that Russia, by showing that it has access to US intelligence hacking tools, was demonstrating that it could prove that the US was behind hacking attempts on third-parties). At any event – which is worse: building a tool to break into buildings or stealing that tool?

The Guardian is trying to spin this as Russia as the bad guy and the NSA as the good guys. But it’s propaganda. A little lie – swap ‘created by’ for ‘discovered by’ – and they hope that you won’t notice…


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