Technology

Trump’s Twitter Numbers Boosted by Bots

“President Trump’s first congressional address — widely celebrated as the most-tweeted presidential address to Congress ever — appears to have been boosted by pro-Trump ‘bot’ accounts,” Politico reports.

“Even before they started trending yesterday, the official hashtags — #JointAddress and #JointSession — accumulated decidedly inorganic traffic, including from some accounts that had never tweeted about any other topic. Telltale signs of automated traffic include lack of a profile picture and prolific output.”

Trump Owns 3,643 Domain Names

“Before he reached the White House, Trump’s company had laid claim to at least 3,643 website domains,” according to internet records gathered by CNNMoney.

Washington Post: “The bulk of the names are not surprising. DonaldTrumpRoomFragrance.com, CelebrityApprenticePoker.com and Trump.cheap are the sort of sites you’d want to reserve if you, too, owned an octopus-like consortium of restaurants, casinos, real estate, perfumes, steaks, wines, companies and brands of every kind. But what’s TrumpArmy.com about?”

GOP Operatives Using Encrypted Messaging App

Confide — an encrypted messaging app that deletes chats after they’re read — is fast becoming a tool of choice for Republicans in Washington,” according to Axios.

“Numerous senior GOP operatives and several members of the Trump administration have downloaded the app, spurred by the airing of hacked Democratic e-mails.”

“We spoke with one influential GOP operative who is using the app. He told us he especially likes that Confide makes it harder to take a screenshot—you have to slide your fingers over text and it only captures a portion of the screen. He also likes the integration with iMessage, allowing him to write self-destructing encrypted messages within the confines of the iPhone’s standard-issue messaging platform.”

Trump’s Phone Is a Massive Security Risk

Nicholas Weaver: “Lost amid the swirling insanity of the Trump administration’s first week, are the reports of the President’s continued insistence on using his Android phone (a Galaxy S3 or perhaps S4). This is, to put it bluntly, asking for a disaster. President Trump’s continued use of a dangerously insecure, out-of-date Android device should cause real panic. And in a normal White House, it would.”

“A Galaxy S3 does not meet the security requirements of the average teenager, let alone the purported leader of the free world. The best available Android OS on this phone (4.4) is a woefully out-of-date and unsupported. The S4, running 5.0.1, is only marginally better. Without exaggerating, hacking a Galaxy S3 or S4 is the type of project I would assign as homework for my advanced undergraduate classes. It’d be as simple as downloading a suitable exploit—depending on the version, Stagefright will do—and then entice Trump to clicking on a link. Alternatively, one could advertise malware on Breitbart and just wait for Trump to visit.”

Arizona Lawmakers Get Hacked

“Arizona lawmakers got hacked last week. And when they clicked the link to change their password, a screen with Russian writing popped up,” the Arizona Republic reports.

“Arizona Chief Information Security Officer Mike Lettman sent an email to legislative staff Friday night alerting them to the issue. According to the email, multiple senators or staff received an email that appeared to be from the state’s human resources and payroll system asking them to reset their password. When some clicked on the link, they received a screen in Russian.”

The Real Problem Behind Fake News

Matt Bai: “The emergence of ‘fake news’ is a searing hot topic these days, as you’ve probably heard — a new, truth-free media to go with our new, truth-free politics…And the problem with cracking down on social media sites is that it’s a little like the war on drugs. You can try to stamp out the supply of garbage news, but the Web is a vast place, and as long as someone can make money off misinformation, it will always find a crack through which to seep…The answer doesn’t lie in hectoring tech companies into policing content, but rather in teaching our kids how to consume it.”

“Here’s a radical thought: If President Trump is looking for a bold and useful education initiative that might serve the incidental purpose of redeeming what’s left of his soul, media literacy would be a pretty good place to start.”

It All Started In 2007

Thomas Friedman: “Steve Jobs and Apple released the first iPhone in 2007, starting the smartphone revolution that is now putting an internet-connected computer in the palm of everyone on the planet. In late 2006, Facebook, which had been confined to universities and high schools, opened itself to anyone with an email address and exploded globally. Twitter was created in 2006, but took off in 2007… In time, 2007 may be seen as one of the greatest technological inflection points in history. And we completely missed it.”

“Why? 2008.”

“Yes, right when our physical technologies leapt ahead, many of what the Oxford economist Eric Beinhocker calls our ‘social technologies’ — all of the rules, regulations, institutions and social tools people needed to get the most out of this technological acceleration and cushion the worst — froze or lagged. In the best of times social technologies have a hard time keeping up with physical technologies, but with the Great Recession of 2008 and the political paralysis it engendered, this gap turned into a chasm. A lot of people got dislocated in the process.”

Pro-Trump Misinformation Is Big Business

BuzzFeed News identified more than 100 pro-Trump websites being run from a single Macedonian town.

The young Macedonians who run these sites don’t care about Donald Trump. They are responding to straightforward economic incentives: As Facebook regularly reveals in earnings reports, a US Facebook user is worth about four times a user outside the US. The fraction-of-a-penny-per-click of U.S. display advertising — a declining market for American publishers — goes a long way in Veles. Several teens and young men who run these sites told BuzzFeed News that they learned the best way to generate traffic is to get their politics stories to spread on Facebook — and the best way to generate shares on Facebook is to publish sensationalist and often false content that caters to Trump supporters.

Why You’re Having Trouble with the Internet Today

For those having problems with the Internet today, Wired reports it’s due to a distributed denial of service attack that has taken down many websites on the Eastern seaboard of the United States.

It’s also impacted the Disqus commenting system used on Political Wire.

Gizmodo: “Some think the attack was a political conspiracy, like an attempt to take down the internet so that people wouldn’t be able to read the leaked Clinton emails on Wikileaks. Others think it’s the usual Russian assault. No matter who did it, we should expect incidents like this to get worse in the future. While DDoS attacks used to be a pretty weak threat, we’re entering a new era.”

Rick Hasen: “Call me paranoid. But I worry this is a dry run (from Russia?) for more Election Day shenanigans.”

Same Russian Hackers Got Into Podesta Email

“Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s Gmail account was hacked by the same Russian intelligence-linked hackers that breached the DNC and the DCCC,” Politico reports.

“Podesta unwittingly gave hackers access to his account by clicking a Bitly link that redirected him to a fake Google login page, where he entered his credentials.”

Broadsoft: What to do if you’ve been hacked

Hacker Reveals Info on Almost 200 Democrats

“A hacker posted cellphone numbers and other personal information of nearly 200 current and former congressional Democrats on Friday, the latest public disclosure of sensitive records this election season,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The hacker, or group of hackers, going by the name ‘Guccifer 2.0’ said the records were stolen as part of a breach of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. A number of files were posted onto Guccifer 2.0’s website, including a spreadsheet that has information for 193 people, such as phone numbers and email addresses. The cellphone numbers of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland were among the information posted.”

Clinton Campaign Was Also Hacked

“The computer network used by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign was hacked as part of a broad cyber attack on Democratic political organizations,” Reuters reports.

“The latest attack follows reports of two other hacks on the Democratic National Committee and the party’s fundraising committee for candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives.”

The New York Times says the intrusion “appears to have come from Russia’s intelligence services.”