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CENTRAL VIEW for Monday, January 2, 2017

by William Hamilton, Ph.D.

Hacking, Phishing, and Fake News

Because so many do not know the difference between "hacking" and "phishing," the "sore losers" of the presidential election are spinning the idea that the Russians "hacked" Hillary Clinton’s e-mail system. According to multiple sources, to include The Hill.com, here is what actually happened:

In March of 2016, Hillary’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, received an e-mail, purportedly from Google, suggesting that Podesta needed to change the campaign’s password. The campaign’s info-tech staffer meant to warn Podesta that the e-mail was "illegitimate;" however, the info-tech staffer made a typo and Podesta read that the e-mail was "legitimate." Dutifully, Podesta clicked on the "phishing" e-mail, and, unwittingly, gave the new password to the "phisher" -- whose identity is still not proven.

Almost immediately, WikiLeaks released ten years of emails between Hillary Clinton and her staffers. Therefore, Hillary’s campaign was not necessarily "hacked" by the Russians. That would have required an attack on the "home-brew server" Hillary was illegally using to discuss classified information with her staff and even with President Obama. Hillary was the "victim," if you will, of her campaign manager’s lack of computer sophistication and a typo made by one of her paid staffers.

"Hacking," on the other hand, requires a fairly high level of computer programming know-how and the ability to invade the target’s computer operating system at its "root" in order to read the system’s contents and/or to plant "malware" that puts the hacker covertly in charge of the operating system and can even crash it. The Russians, the Red Chinese, and even some of our allies, are assumed to be good at both "hacking "and "phishing."

We see "fake news" going around the Internet and on the main-steam media all the time. Good examples are diatribes, purportedly by well-known celebrities, spouting off against the Left or the Right. These are written by people who can approximate how the celebrities express themselves. Quite often, they are false.

Here are just a few infamous examples of fake news stories where, in each and every case, the purveyors of the fake news had to make retractions and disavow their own work: KoranGate: The story that Korans were flushed down toilets at Gitmo was totally false and Newsweek had to retract it. But the damage was done. RatherGate: The famed anchorman had to admit his charges against George W. Bush were based on forged documents. After that, Rather was done. Exploding TruckGate: NBC-TV planted explosives in a GM truck to make it look like GM trucks were inherently dangerous. Caught in the act, the president of NBC News had to offer an abject apology. FergusonGate: Someone fabricated the story that convenience-store robber, Michael Brown, had his hands up and was saying, "Don’t shoot!" when shot by a white police officer. The New York Times, The Washington Post, and MSNBC ran the story without checking the facts. Cameras showed the officer being beaten by Brown. The officer fired in self-defense. But the damage was done. Rioting and attacks on law enforcement officers continue.

While the Communications Revolution should be more blessing than curse, it is sad to observe that some people, some organizations and crime cartels cannot resist the temptation to make it more curse than blessing.

Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the Army Language School, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.

©2017. William Hamilton.

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©1999-2017. American Press Syndicate.

Dr. Hamilton can be contacted at:
P.O. Box 2001
Granby, CO 80446

Email: william@central-view.com

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