Since we are all in a tizzy about fake news, and Russian hacking, here’s one for you. I’ve seen this headline shared all over the place for the last couple of days:
Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility
This sounds awful. Clearly the Russians are trying to hack the power grid, and disrupt life in the US.
Except, if you actually go back to the original article in the Washington Post, you’ll see this little correction:
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.
Wait a second. As it turns out, there was one laptop that had malware on it, that may be similar to the malware used, supposedly, by Russians to hack the DNC, which, by the way, was caused by someone in the DNC falling for a plain, everyday, phishing attack. Not exactly a sophisticated plot!
That’s a far cry from the power grid being hacked, isn’t it? But, never mind all that, the new Red Scare is upon us, and there isn’t anything they can’t hack! Surely we should share and warn everyone without bothering with, oh say, knowing anything.
In fact, even the Post, while putting that in front of the story, left the headline the same, and left all of the scare quotes from politicians about the “Red Hacking Menace” (my phrase), all the while having to acknowledge that we really have no idea how this laptop got malware on it, or who placed the malware in the first place.
God forbid anyone actually have a few facts before being quoted in the press!
Updated Jan 3, 2017 – Apparently after further review, the Post would like everyone to “nevermind“. None of what they reported turned out to be true at all, but how many people have already read the headline and assumed that the Russians have infiltrated the electric grid of Vermont? How many will go on not only believing it, but quoting it as fact?