Today is Voting Day! That long-awaited day, the one we’ve all been waiting for. As voting kicks off on the final day of the 2018 midterm cycles, we’ve got a few last thoughts to offer.
Down south, it looks like they’re trying to cheat people. Our prayers go out to all Democrats. A particular prayer seems due for Stacey Abrams of Georgia, the gubernatorial candidate of that fair state; we wish her the best of luck overcoming the dirty tricks of the Republicans and taking her state back to sane decency.
The disgraceful conduct of the Republicans will color their names for all time.
This Millennial Democrats contributor voted yesterday. A straight blue ticket! A drop of blue water to a strong Blue Wave. It was a beautiful moment for me. I have been waiting for this every single day since November 8 of 2016. I have lived for it. We are going to take back the House and save our country- and we are going to do it today!
Even one branch of Congress will be enough for us to stymie every evil thing they try to do. Forget about Trump getting anything else past legislature. He’ll be stuck in his chair from that point on. The Blue Wave’s Crest is towering over him as we speak. He is in its shadow.
For all of you who might see this at the last minute- If you are stuck at home today. If you’re too sick. If you’re too busy- Please take advantages of resources designed to help you get to those polls! Your country needs you, your people need you, your planet needs you!
EVERYTHING we have been doing here for all this time is pointless if we don’t make it into those booths.
We have received numerous requests for a focus piece regarding cyber-defense for Democrats, especially right now as we are going into the midterms. In it is an introduction to a number of the techniques we can use to defend ourselves going forward. Knowledge is power. Pass it on.
Regular readers of Millennial Democrats will not require a lot of explanation as to how and why the threat of Russian hacking is real. We have been up against it for years. The time has come to soberly and objectively assess Russia’s cyberwarfare capabilities, and examine how we plan to fight back.
In 2016, America was caught off guard and we got a bloody nose. Guys like Roger Stone’s buddy Guccifer 2.0, or the guys in Fancy Bear pulled a fast one, to be sure.
They had the element of surprise back then. Most people had no idea what they were doing(and rolled their eyes at those who were trying to warn them, but that’s another subject). These days things are very different.
Regardless of the lies of the great orange malignance, America knows the Russians are out to get us. Trump is sticking his head in the sand on this and will do nothing to help us, so we’re going to have to learn to help ourselves, and each other.
It’s too bad we’ve got no national leadership on this, but it is what it is. We’ll get by on our own.
In starting out, the most important thing to keep in mind is this: Hackers rely on our mistakes, and mistakes are most often made when we don’t know we are making them. They need to catch us off guard, and their job is to find creative ways to use their tools to get us to slip up.
The first place a smart hacker will look is outside the box, so to speak. They’re always looking for ways to burrow in that you wouldn’t think to look for.
Employing a given system, be it a human being or a PC, for a purpose it wasn’t designed for is what hacking means. However, if you’re careful, neither you nor your computer will end up thus employed. It’s all about being careful.
Hackers are clever, be they Russian or from elsewhere, but they are far from invincible. We’ve already stopped a number of Russian cyber-assaults directed at Democrats this year, such as the ones aimed at our Claire McCaskill.
Without the element of surprise, hackers have many limitations. It’s not that easy to brute-force open a website. Just ask these guys:
Basic cyber-hygiene techniques would cut down on more than 80 percent of cyber attacks and cyber thefts, according to Herbert Lin, senior research scholar for cyber policy and security at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. It will benefit us to learn a few.
There is a great deal of white-hat(ethical hacking) work that can be done to defend America in this realm, and most of it has to do with how careful we are.
We repeat- It’s all about being careful. This cannot be repeated too often.
In this piece, we’re going to talk about a few common mistakes made by end-users(that means us, the consumer) and how they are exploited by criminals. We’re also going to talk about some of these cyber-hygiene measures and assign them three rules of thumb.
Don’t open strange emails.
Don’t click on strange links.
Don’t accept chat messages from people you don’t know, particularly on Facebook.
Before we get started, think for a second about all your other social media accounts. Are they just as secure as your Facebook or Twitter? Make sure they are! That’s the first place a hacker will go to collect more data about you. You’re particularly vulnerable to having your account on the ones you don’t often use pried open.
As an aside, this is also why you don’t want to use the same passwords for everything. Passwords are obviously critical, as somebody who’s got them has got all your information at his fingertips. Be careful!!
A great deal of a hacker’s job revolves around getting the passwords of their victims. Their most popular tools are all various ways to apply “spear-phishing” hacks, designed to steal passwords and personal data. The unlucky “phish” who opens one has become a victim and is now open to all kinds of trouble.
There are all kinds of ways to go spear-phishing. A brand new one showed up not long ago when U.S. government agencies recently received letters via snail mail.
One example that all readers of this blog will vividly recall took place on March 10, 2016, when the first volley of malicious e-mail messages hit the inboxes of thirty people who were closely associated with the Hillary Clinton campaign. Inside them were links that were actually viruses, like worms on a hook.
Nearly all of them were failures. All but one, actually. But one was enough.
Within nine days, a horrendous amount of critical data had been stolen and passed along to Wikileaks, to be strategically released in a way they figured would hurt us. It did.
Those leaked e-mails, in which Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was seen to be fussing over Bernie’s lack of ability to fill out campaign finance forms correctly, were spun up into a narrative that Bernie(who lost by four million popular votes) had been cheated.
Bernie or Bust bought it, there were riots in the streets of Philadelphia, and a rift was torn in the Democratic Party that still has yet to heal.
All of that was made possible, with just a few phished passwords.
To combat phishing is to make sure everyone knows how common and damaging these attacks can be. Everyone should keep their guard up when checking emails, and they should report any email they find suspicious.
It’s necessary to point out here that Facebook phishing in particular is horrendously easy. They can hack you right through your chat box. We recommend in the strongest possible terms that you put as little of your personal information as possible on Facebook.
Facebook presents about a million added vulnerabilities to all of us that use it. When Edward Snowden was asked what to do to keep your data safe on that platform, his response was, “Delete your account.”
We can’t recommend that, as Facebook gives us access to 2 billion people, but we can recommend this much. If people you don’t know send you strange messages on Facebook, don’t accept them.
“We are looking at just some of the malicious material that already may be circulating or will be released before the midterms. It also bears repeating that we know the campaign of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) was targeted.”
Cyber-intelligence experts see this as being major, and with clear reason.
Moving on, it isn’t only Facebook and social media you’ve got to be careful with. Websites too are vulnerable.
Anecdotally, the webmaster of this site has seen hackers from all over the world try to take us down, from Beijing, China to Lviv, Ukraine, from Adelaide, Australia to Beauharnois, Quebec. They use all kinds of tricks, but they’ve never gotten in and they never will.
This is not because I’m a cyber-genius who speaks binary code, but because WordPress is awesome.Sucuri, the plugin that keeps safe all of us Millennial Democrats, is likewise excellent. They care about their clients and they hold the same liberal values sacred that we do.
WordPress users should strongly consider using Sucuri, not least for the reverse IP trace it automatically performs. This has the benefit of letting you know a lot more about who’s trying to hack you. Sometimes it will tell you everything.
Once a flower store owner from Adelaide, Australia tried to hack us. By using a reverse IP trace, Sucuri let us know who she was as soon as she had done so. Then we went to a site called WhatismyIPaddress.com, put it in, and voila.
We were able to get the name of her business by looking at the name of her domain. We then used that to look her up, and jackpot. We found the store’s address, website, and owner. We also found far-right garbage smeared all over her life.
I could put her on blast right here with a screenshot like this one:
Luckily for her, I’m not that mean. But the next guy might be. It’s a dangerous game for newbies (noobs- learn your hacker-ese) to play. It’s easy to run into trouble.
Change your life, would-be hacker flower store owner! Mend your wicked ways, before it’s too late.
Speaking of WordPress, using the two-factor authentication feature they offer as part of their platform is another good idea. This is a highly effective security measure and is available for Facebook, Gmail, WordPress, and many other major platforms.
Using this feature means a second device’s input will be required to access email accounts or websites on new computers, usually by prompting you and sending an SMS code to your phone or whatever. This can prevent scammers from accessing compromised accounts.
In addition to good cyber-hygiene, which amounts to common sense, caution, and our three rules of thumb, there are some tools we can use to make our online experience safer still. You may find this necessary, from time to time.
Guccifer 2.0 recently made a mistake and forgot to turn his VPN on, and we connected him to an IP address connected to Russian intelligence. Now his whole identity is blown because he didn’t use his VPN.
We strongly recommend getting one of these, specifically IVPN. They take protecting their customers super seriously and they are located on the Rock of Gibraltar. That fortress strikes me as a good place to keep anything valuable.
HotspotShield is another good one, and also NordVPN. There’s a lot of them; shop around and find one that’s right for you. We feel it’s worth repeating that they are a very good investment.
Additional tools include TOR(The Onion Router), which offers a former naval encryption system that we can now all use. Tor takes all your internet traffic and routes it through its own network, providing total anonymity.
The DuckDuckGo browser, which Tor employs, is good to know about also. It has a number of different features that keep you safe, including a “Flame” feature that burns up all your cookies in a second. Pretty cool.
Now, just as then, there is a need for deterrence, to defend the nation and hopefully prevent a further escalation of tensions. There is more at stake than we can even put into words. We need to be ready.
There are bigger dangers here than the usual America vs. Russia, liberal world order vs the new world order that the extremist crazies keep screaming that they want kind of thing. This is different completely.
One superpower actively destroying the democratic process of another is new and very dangerous, especially since Russian destability tactics rely heavily on disinformation and a systematic devaluing of the truth.
The introduction was made by Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who is the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.
Meadows and Jordan have been critical of Rosenstein and the Justice Department for various reasons, all of which are completely insincere.
The real reason they are after Rosenstein is that he has overseen the special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.
A few months ago Steve Bannon was on TV for the first time since Breitbart let him go. He was on there to offer Trump some strategy tips as to how to end the investigation into Russian involvement with the Donald Trump campaign.
He suggested that to do this, the White House should stop cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is handling the probe.
And he suggested that he fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
That has been the simplest path out of this for them from the start.
As part of a broader inquiry into possible obstruction of justice, Mueller is examining Trump’s conduct from the beginning of his presidency and before.
He is preparing to make a recommendation whether the actions add up to attempts to obstruct the investigation, specifically intimidating witnesses, and attempting to put the screws on senior law enforcement officials to tamp down the inquiry.
Trump is terrified of what may come. That is why they are after Rosenstein.
In related news, CBS News’ Paula Reid has confirmed that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, is willing to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that the president knew in advance of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting involving Mr. Trump’s son, top campaign officials and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Speaking of Avenatti, he’ll be representing three more women Trump allegedly paid off in the months to come. Another piece of good news is that Trump’s organization finance chief has been called before a federal grand jury.
The real question is, what comes next? At this point, it’s still anybody’s guess.
For Robert Mueller, a lot of work. He’s hiring new prosecutors.
For us, getting ready.
A piece published Thursday afternoon by the Daily Beast shows that Russia is already trying to hack the 2018 midterm elections.
They got caught going after Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who is one of our best people, and up for reelection this year. Malware was sent as emails to a McCaskill aide from a server that likely belongs to Fancy Bear, the same Russian intelligence group that did many of the 2016 hacks.
We’ve been here before, and we know where this is going. We have seen the tactics of the enemy, and we know how to spot them. In the months to come, we’re going to be focusing in more and more on the midterm elections and the cyber-education that will come with keeping them safe.
There’s one other thought that comes to mind, also- It’s all for nothing if we don’t go vote. We’ve been resisting together all this time, down in the trenches. We have probably got this, so long as we do not let up. For a little while longer, at the very least, we have got to hold it together and get by as best we can. See you in the mix!
In response to that report, Hawley made a statement which was filled with high indignity and moral outrage. He called on Greitens to “resign immediately” and stated flatly that the conduct described in the report was “certainly impeachable.”
Greitens fired back by seeking a restraining order against Hawley, and the two of them are now well into a worsening feud.
It’s very convenient for Josh Hawley to go after Greitens now that the former is making a Senate run and the other a political liability. This fact did not escape the notice of Claire McCaskill, who is one of the Senate’s brightest and toughest people.
On Wednesday, she tweeted her opinion that the governor should resign, and it wasn’t long before someone else did too.
Thursday morning, McCaskill held court with reporters just outside the U.S. Senate chamber, and she broke it down very well.
“Listen, there’s one thing that’s very clear: Josh Hawley ran for office saying he was going to clean up public corruption,” she said. “This doesn’t sound like the guy who ran for office saying he was going to clean up public corruption. This sounds like somebody who’s hiding under his desk.”
Hawley’s own record regarding women’s issues is far from admirable. In December he made a speech in which he blamed the sexual revolution for the rise in sex trafficking.
Another sign of Hawley’s hypocrisy is that he and Greitens are directly connected by the donor list of Chicago-area businessman Richard Uihlein, whose donor list seems to create a pattern.