Occam, Trump, and Russia

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thoreau
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by thoreau » 18 Dec 2018, 20:38

I have no doubt that they do things like that, but since this was all specifically in the context of the election I was thinking about election-related shenanigans. And in election-related shenanigans, random gay teen is not going to help with money laundering or hacking DNC emails, but could be put to work dropping off flyers that give people the wrong polling place.
"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Aresen » 18 Dec 2018, 20:39

Shem wrote:
18 Dec 2018, 20:14
You guys think waaaaay too small. "Hm, thanks to Facebook, we notice your uncle works for Raytheon making high-end equipment for the DoD. Wonder if he re-uses passwords. Be a ягненок and plug this keylogger into his computer next time you go to his house for dinner so we can find out? Unless you want your parents to find out you're gay, that is."
Yep. Though the 'remit $500 through blockchain/bitcoin' angle is far more likely for the average person visiting a porn site. And, outside of the bible belt, 'we'll tell your parents you're gay' hardly has much force for West Europeans and North Americans any more. [I know there are numerous other 'vices' or 'dirty secrets' they could use.]
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Shem » 19 Dec 2018, 02:33

thoreau wrote:
18 Dec 2018, 20:38
I have no doubt that they do things like that, but since this was all specifically in the context of the election I was thinking about election-related shenanigans. And in election-related shenanigans, random gay teen is not going to help with money laundering or hacking DNC emails, but could be put to work dropping off flyers that give people the wrong polling place.
That's kind of the point, though; people roll their eyes and snark about dank memes and the dismissal means they don't even bother to take the next step and consider all the ways it can be used to develop assets and cats' paws without arousing suspicion.
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Jadagul » 19 Dec 2018, 04:15

Aresen wrote:
18 Dec 2018, 20:39
Shem wrote:
18 Dec 2018, 20:14
You guys think waaaaay too small. "Hm, thanks to Facebook, we notice your uncle works for Raytheon making high-end equipment for the DoD. Wonder if he re-uses passwords. Be a ягненок and plug this keylogger into his computer next time you go to his house for dinner so we can find out? Unless you want your parents to find out you're gay, that is."
Yep. Though the 'remit $500 through blockchain/bitcoin' angle is far more likely for the average person visiting a porn site. And, outside of the bible belt, 'we'll tell your parents you're gay' hardly has much force for West Europeans and North Americans any more. [I know there are numerous other 'vices' or 'dirty secrets' they could use.]
You'd think that, but I have multiple friends in Los Angeles who are Very Not Out to their parents.

It's not (much of) a thing for your same-age peer-group if you're upper-middle-class and live in an urban/liberal area. But there are a lot of caveats there.

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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by thoreau » 19 Dec 2018, 10:46

Shem wrote:
thoreau wrote:
18 Dec 2018, 20:38
I have no doubt that they do things like that, but since this was all specifically in the context of the election I was thinking about election-related shenanigans. And in election-related shenanigans, random gay teen is not going to help with money laundering or hacking DNC emails, but could be put to work dropping off flyers that give people the wrong polling place.
That's kind of the point, though; people roll their eyes and snark about dank memes and the dismissal means they don't even bother to take the next step and consider all the ways it can be used to develop assets and cats' paws without arousing suspicion.
True enough.

It also occurs to me that if Russians are playing to the right flank of the culture wars, they could easily set up discussions where some engineering and tech professionals feel comfortable enough to gripe about the new politically correct hiring initiatives at work, then say "You don't want us to show this to HR, do you? Well, we'd like to know about that subcontract that your company got from General Dynamics..." Or, less suspiciously, "Tell us more about the virtue signaling hypocrite who is sexually harassing women. What's his name again? Which projects is he ?"
"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Eric the .5b » 19 Dec 2018, 13:58

Ellie wrote:
18 Dec 2018, 13:59
Well, that's true that it's not masturbation anymore if you're jerking his while he's jerking yours. So, addiction overcome?
Not even just technically true. :D
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Painboy » 19 Dec 2018, 14:19

Shem wrote:
18 Dec 2018, 20:14
You guys think waaaaay too small. "Hm, thanks to Facebook, we notice your uncle works for Raytheon making high-end equipment for the DoD. Wonder if he re-uses passwords. Be a ягненок and plug this keylogger into his computer next time you go to his house for dinner so we can find out? Unless you want your parents to find out you're gay, that is."
The ROI on something like this makes that impractical though. Especially if you're trying to do that on some kind of scale which you would need to do for something like that to be effective .

Also blackmail really only works when the target has done something that can be used against them in a significant criminal matter or if it would cause them a great deal of shame. Most people don't haven't done anything criminal that you could use on them and shame basically doesn't exist anymore and can often be spun into positive gains these days.

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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by thoreau » 19 Dec 2018, 14:37

Painboy wrote:
19 Dec 2018, 14:19
Shem wrote:
18 Dec 2018, 20:14
You guys think waaaaay too small. "Hm, thanks to Facebook, we notice your uncle works for Raytheon making high-end equipment for the DoD. Wonder if he re-uses passwords. Be a ягненок and plug this keylogger into his computer next time you go to his house for dinner so we can find out? Unless you want your parents to find out you're gay, that is."
The ROI on something like this makes that impractical though. Especially if you're trying to do that on some kind of scale which you would need to do for something like that to be effective .
If done as broad, nation-wide advertising, I agree.

If taking advantage of targeted ads (which all of the internet giants have poured huge effort into), well, advertise your "Are you confused about your sexuality?" ads at teenagers with signs of conservative religious affiliation (e.g. membership in Facebook groups for certain types of churches or youth groups) and living in the vicinity of major defense contractor facilities or whatever. Scan the profiles of anyone who clicks and search family and friends for known employees of targeted organizations (easy enough to automate). Put actual human effort into the handful who match enough criteria.
Also blackmail really only works when the target has done something that can be used against them in a significant criminal matter or if it would cause them a great deal of shame. Most people don't haven't done anything criminal that you could use on them and shame basically doesn't exist anymore and can often be spun into positive gains these days.
So young people from conservative religious backgrounds don't feel intense shame over sexual matters?

A lot of people might balk at "Hand over classified secrets", but might not balk at "I, your friend and confidante, want you to download this program onto your judgmental dad's personal laptop so we can scan and see if he's a hypocrite."

If a handful of these work out, you now have a keystroke logger on the laptop or phone of someone with an interesting job. You can read their email and learn about their work--even the non-classified parts can tell you things about office politics and general work status that will help you with the next step. You can see if they recycle passwords. You can see if they have an extramarital affair. Or debts. You can see if they are venting about a creepy co-worker playing on the fine edge of sexual harassment law. (And then you can blackmail THAT person.) The sad, confused teen is irrelevant by this point.

I mean, forget about Russia, because I know everyone here is allergic to theories about Russian meddling. Suppose that an employee of the Iranian Ministry of Defense goes home and browses pr0n, or atheist sites, or, hell, anything the Iranian government disapproves of. You don't think the US, Saudis, Israelis, and everyone else wouldn't love to know that? If the NSA isn't trying to get keystroke loggers onto those personal laptops then they should be fired for failure to do their job. (Though that may not be a firing offense in the federal government.)
"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Eric the .5b » 19 Dec 2018, 14:58

thoreau wrote:
19 Dec 2018, 14:37
If done as broad, nation-wide advertising, I agree.

If taking advantage of targeted ads (which all of the internet giants have poured huge effort into), well, advertise your "Are you confused about your sexuality?" ads at teenagers with signs of conservative religious affiliation (e.g. membership in Facebook groups for certain types of churches or youth groups) and living in the vicinity of major defense contractor facilities or whatever. Scan the profiles of anyone who clicks and search family and friends for known employees of targeted organizations (easy enough to automate). Put actual human effort into the handful who match enough criteria.
And somewhere in Russia, there are guys in the SVR giving buzzword-laden secret seminars on the need to be up to date on how to prey upon American millennials and their parents.

Spam works because the margins are high on the very few suckers who bite, and those suckers just need to have money. This "spampromat" approach has to have enough suckers who bite and can be blackmailed so that intelligence agence can actually identify some useful suckers among the "I couldn't make it through No Fap November!" assholes.. I find myself skeptical that this approach actually could garner much more useful information than intelligence agents cultivating spies the old-fashioned way.
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by thoreau » 19 Dec 2018, 15:12

Eric the .5b wrote:
19 Dec 2018, 14:58
Spam works because the margins are high on the very few suckers who bite, and those suckers just need to have money. This "spampromat" approach has to have enough suckers who bite and can be blackmailed so that intelligence agence can actually identify some useful suckers among the "I couldn't make it through No Fap November!" assholes.. I find myself skeptical that this approach actually could garner much more useful information than intelligence agents cultivating spies the old-fashioned way.
On a per-hour basis I doubt it's terribly efficient. It's probably offset by the fact that you don't need to fly people to the US, pay the various costs of a foreign assignment, hire coaches to help them minimize their accent, or come up with good cover stories to explain why a woman named Natalya is promoting her "How to get out of credit card debt!" seminar outside a lunch spot frequented by Raytheon employees. Or answer questions from cops who want to know why you're writing down the numbers of all the plates in the parking lot of a psychiatrist's office near a Navy base.

I wouldn't be surprised if, on a rubles-per-useful-lead basis the costs are remarkably similar. Nor would I be surprised if the Russian social media "consultants" get cagey when asked how many of these operations went from step 2 (keystroke logger on the personal laptop of an interesting person) to steps 3 (leverage) and 4 (products from leverage).
"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by thoreau » 19 Dec 2018, 15:21

Though, truthfully, if the Russians want penetration with the armaments industry they might be better off sending redheads to NRA events.

Oh, wait, they did that too.
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Eric the .5b » 19 Dec 2018, 15:34

Raytheon and NRA events is a Hell of a category confusion, there.
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by thoreau » 19 Dec 2018, 15:45

Eric the .5b wrote:Raytheon and NRA events is a Hell of a category confusion, there.
Or a lame attempt at a joke.
"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Shem » 19 Dec 2018, 16:25

Painboy wrote:
19 Dec 2018, 14:19
The ROI on something like this makes that impractical though. Especially if you're trying to do that on some kind of scale which you would need to do for something like that to be effective .
How much additional investment is required to have the guy running the hotline glance at their profile and add some keyword tags to their database while they're talking to them?

But, suppose you're right, and those outreach efforts weren't designed to gather compromat. To what purpose were they enacted, then?
And blackmail really only works when the target has done something that can be used against them in a significant criminal matter or if it would cause them a great deal of shame. Most people don't haven't done anything criminal that you could use on them and shame basically doesn't exist anymore and can often be spun into positive gains these days.
The next time one of the teenagers who were kicked out of their house when their parents found out they were gay come into my office for services, I'll let them know this.
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Painboy » 19 Dec 2018, 16:25

Shem wrote:
19 Dec 2018, 16:25
Painboy wrote:
19 Dec 2018, 14:19
The ROI on something like this makes that impractical though. Especially if you're trying to do that on some kind of scale which you would need to do for something like that to be effective .
How much additional investment is required to have the guy running the hotline glance at their profile and add some keyword tags to their database while they're talking to them?

But, supposed you're right, and those outreach efforts weren't designed to gather compromat. To what purpose were they enacted, then?
And blackmail really only works when the target has done something that can be used against them in a significant criminal matter or if it would cause them a great deal of shame. Most people don't haven't done anything criminal that you could use on them and shame basically doesn't exist anymore and can often be spun into positive gains these days.
The next time one of the teenagers who were kicked out of their house when their parents found out they were gay come into my office for services, I'll let them know this.
You guys watch too many movies.

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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Shem » 19 Dec 2018, 17:41

Painboy wrote:
19 Dec 2018, 16:25
You guys watch too many movies.
Is that an "I don't know why they went to the trouble of encouraging contact with closeted youths and porn consumers?"
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Eric the .5b » 19 Dec 2018, 18:03

Shem wrote:
19 Dec 2018, 17:41
Painboy wrote:
19 Dec 2018, 16:25
You guys watch too many movies.
Is that an "I don't know why they went to the trouble of encouraging contact with closeted youths and porn consumers?"
I'm certainly skeptical that you do.
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Mo » 19 Dec 2018, 18:09

I think Shem May have it backwards. What’s more likely is to identify a target and see if anyone in their social circle is potentially compromised.
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by thoreau » 19 Dec 2018, 18:30

One needn't think it was an efficient or effective effort to think it was a seriously intended effort. I really doubt that the alphabet soup of Russian security services were reaching out to people about embarrassing stuff just for the lulz. If they never actually succeeded in blackmailing someone to put spyware on the laptop of their cousin who works at whatever contractor, well, what were the odds that the Russian government might waste money?

But let's not say "No way were they trying to, like, do stuff!" I'm pretty sure that they were trying something. Failing, maybe, but definitely trying.

(In a veal farm we'd give them a B for trying, in the name of the Student Success Initiative.)
"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by thoreau » 19 Dec 2018, 19:54

Meanwhile, the US government is lifting some of the sanctions on Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska is the oligarch to whom Manafort owes/owed a large amount of money.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... in-30-days

I'm sure that this has nothing to do with Trump's former campaign manager owing money to Deripaska. All just a coincidence.
"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by thoreau » 19 Dec 2018, 20:59

CNN has a copy of the letter of intent that Trump signed for a Trump Tower in Moscow. In September of 2015. While he was running for President. And while he was kissing up to Putin in public statements.

http://cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2018/images/12/1 ... ment.1.pdf

The man is fundamentally compromised. He conducted his campaign for office in a way that was calculated to advance his personal business interests.
"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Warren » 19 Dec 2018, 21:15

thoreau wrote:
19 Dec 2018, 20:59
CNN has a copy of the letter of intent that Trump signed for a Trump Tower in Moscow. In September of 2015. While he was running for President. And while he was kissing up to Putin in public statements.

http://cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2018/images/12/1 ... ment.1.pdf

The man is fundamentally compromised. He conducted his campaign for office in a way that was calculated to advance his personal business interests.
I'm shocked.
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Eric the .5b » 19 Dec 2018, 23:00

thoreau wrote:
19 Dec 2018, 18:30
One needn't think it was an efficient or effective effort to think it was a seriously intended effort.
And one may not even correctly understand what the effort is or how it works.

Intelligence agencies of all nations try lots of things, most of them working about as well as the usual government projects. (Often maybe not as well as just throwing some money at local private eyes, many of whom specialize in industrial espionage, nowadays.) It may not be completely necessary to be in a constant state of OMG someone in the Russian government did something.
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Hugh Akston » 20 Dec 2018, 02:09

I can't imagine how horrible it would be for American military technology to fall into the hands of an illiberal regime whose only interest in the Middle East was to prop up friendly dictators who would grant them strategic leverage and resource access. Simply unthinkable.
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Re: Occam, Trump, and Russia

Post by Aresen » 20 Dec 2018, 10:49

Hugh Akston wrote:
20 Dec 2018, 02:09
I can't imagine how horrible it would be for American military technology to fall into the hands of an illiberal regime whose only interest in the Middle East was to prop up friendly dictators who would grant them strategic leverage and resource access. Simply unthinkable.
Dammit, Hugh, that sarcasmometer was brand new!!! ;)
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