The DNC Breach and the Hijacking of Common Sense

"When you need something to be true, you will look for patterns; you connect the dots like the stars of a constellation. Your brain abhors disorder. You see faces in clouds and demons in bonfires. Those who claim the powers of divination hijack these natural human tendencies. They know they can depend on you to use subjective validation in the moment and confirmation bias afterward."
Author: David McRaney
This article is about the DNC breach and its attribution to the Russian government. But first, imagine that the DNC breach wasn’t a network breach but a shooting (no one was injured). No one knows who the shooter was but he left behind his weapon, a Kalishnikov AKM made in Russia.

The unknown shooter used a Russian-made weapon. Does that mean that the shooter is Russian? Or that the shooter works for the company, Kalishnikov Concern? Or even more likely in the crazy world of cyber investigations, that the designer of the AKM is also the shooter?

Police would certainly explore the possibility that the shooter may have been Russian but they wouldn’t exclude other suspects. And no investigator in his right mind would arrest the CEO of Remington Arms, Sig Sauer, Kalishnikov Concern or any other arms manufacturer because a gun they made was used in a crime.

In the physical world of crime investigation, common sense dictates that the perpetrator of a crime may use any weapon and not just one made in the country of his birth, and that the developer or manufacturer of the weapon most likely isn’t the perpetrator of the crime.

And yet, those seemingly crazy assumptions are made every day by cybersecurity companies involved in incident response and threat intelligence. 

The malware was written in Russian? It was a Russian who attacked you. 

Chinese characters in the code? You've been hacked by the Peoples Liberation Army.


  1. Great post. Those last two paragraphs/statements - brilliant. Thanks for the chuckle.

    Fred H |


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