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How Russia Hacked America—And Why It Will Happen Again

How Russia Hacked America—And Why It Will Happen Again

Russia hacked the 2016 elections and is going to do it again. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russian hackers attacked the U.S. on two fronts. First, there was the psychological. Hackers used classic propaganda techniques to influence American voters: to tell them that that the political system was rigged and to make America’s diversity seem dangerous. They spread their message by buying ads on popular social media platforms, like Facebook and YouTube. They programmed Twitter bots masquerading
as real people. Facebook believes that over 125 million Americans may have been exposed to Russian-backed posts during the 2016 campaign. Twitter deactivated nearly 3,000 accounts it suspected of being Russian trolls. Russian propaganda muddied the waters, and Americans had trouble distinguishing real news from fake news, and legitimate social
media accounts from Russian bots. In an age of information overload, Americans
found it difficult to be critical consumers. Then there was the technical side. According to American intelligence assessments, Russians broke into Democratic party email servers and gave the information they stole to Wikileaks. American media then reported on these hacks, spreading the information and unwittingly aiding the Russians. Russian hackers also targeted U.S. voting
infrastructure in 21 states. Some of this could’ve been easily prevented. If Clinton campaign chair John Podesta knew what a phishing email looked like, he may not have clicked the link that handed over every single one of his emails to the Russians. Throughout the campaign, many of us reporters got Google alerts that government-backed hackers were trying to hack our email accounts. We learned to put two-factor authentication on our emails and social media accounts, which were also subject to hacking attempts. These are quick and easy fixes, but less than a third of Americans use them. And not nearly enough
Americans use encrypted messaging platforms to communicate with each other. Instead they rely on apps that are easier
to use— and easier to hack. And while individual states are working to
secure their voter information and voting systems, the federal government remains paralyzed and divided. America’s cyber counterintelligence armies sit waiting for a command to go after Russian hackers –a command that many fear will never
come. While they might not have swayed a Clinton
supporter to vote for Trump, the Russians were successful in their original aims: to troll American democracy and sow seeds of chaos. To make us doubt our very system of government. Russia’s success revealed America’s weakness: its polarized and toxic political climate. The dissent sown by Russian ads and social media bots did far more damage than any of the compromised servers. The U.S. will only see more of these attacks. With such a feeble response from the United States to past interference, there is little to deter Russia from further meddling. The U.S. faces an unprecedented challenge in defending itself against this psychological cyber warfare. It’s not that the Russians will be back— they haven’t left. And they will only get better; their methods will grow more sophisticated. The American government and the American people need to get serious about cyber security, but it’s more than that. We need to take a hard look at ourselves and our political and social divisions. We don’t have to make the Kremlin’s job any easier.

Reader Comments

  1. democrats are undermining the peoples intelligence, this is an insult to the American people as well as to the Russians…

  2. 1. they accessed the voter roll in some states
    2. they run paid ads
    3. they exposed some info to wiki leaks

    How did they "hack" the election? CNN makes it sounds like they rigged the election in some way. at the end of the day americans where still free to vote for whoever they wanted?

  3. dagan mo tanan hacker naa na ang pinaka dako nga pato/DUCK(Knowing Understanding Cyber Details) mangHACK….GUMBITS(Tumoy Sa Imong Bungot Ug Moturok Gilok)

  4. They are accused of conspiring against the U.S. through a widespread effort to invent fake social media personas and wield divisive social and political issues with an intent to “sow discord” in the U.S.
    This all started with the .001% that "Sowed discord" against Hillary during the Benghazi herrings and it worked so well that the .001% decided to shift some of their resources and thus the blame onto Russia.

  5. The animation is nice, but the message is bunk. Hillary lost the election because she was a terrible candidate. Russia didn't influence the vote even a percentage point.
    Moreover, whoever revealed the DNC emails, was a hero. If Russia did it, we should thank them. Russia didn't write those emails. I don't care who revealed them.
    For example, without those emails, we wouldn't know that Citicorp (Citibank) choose Obama''s entire cabinet. I kid you not.

  6. Bla bla bla… My girlfriend dumped me. It's Russia's fault. It's raining. Oh, it's Russia's fault. I don't have money, I lost my job. Guess what? It's also Russia's fault.

    Getting tired of the same mantra here.

  7. The putting out of propaganda on social media happens all the time . Whether it be individuals, groups or countries . This is not in and of itself a crime . The US directly or by proxy does this stuff all the time and is currently doing it concerning Venezuela at the moment .(The criminal part is what the US government is doing and that is threats and paying the opposition big bucks to overthrow an elected government ) . You have to be an idiot and should not be allowed to vote if you only believe in what social media puts out . You have to get off the platform and use the general internet(not just google either) and search for documents that oppose the social media narrative . And most of all look for many documents on each position(double, triple and so on source) and make up your own mind . And one of the best things you can do is to say I don't know , keep this on the backburner , and move on to other issues and problems we as citizens have to deal with .

    Now the accusation Russia directly hacked voting machines is another matter . Yes their must be continued investigations . As far as I have seen nothing solid has come out yet about Russia directly tampering and hacking with the voting machine system . What is most important is INDEPENDENT investigations and investigators who are not political and not aligned with either the democrats or gop .

    I dislike both Trump and Hillary Clinton . However this is my opinion . But Trump has done some stupid things like believing tax cuts for the wealthy will create jobs , His threats now towards Venezuela , etc . I also know that the SuperDelegate system in the DNC is very undemocratic(that means as in democracy not the democratic party) and that Hillary Clinton and the DNC despicably benefited from .

    I must confess I am a Sanders supporter . But the polls that say Sanders would have beat Trump if he was democratic nominee , I cannot say beyond a shadow of a doubt are correct .

    Again I will admit to a belief or feeling not yet a fact . I feel what the US needs is a third party which unites the working and middle classes of all colors and creeds and focuses on democracy in economics . We have to get away from identity politics which lifestyle, religion, and the like are private affairs and should not be our concern when we vote . Demos the root word for Democracy means all the people not just a few who govern . Those who we elect to govern are first and foremost public servants .

    Yet we allow our elected and non elected public servants to be corrupted by the Power Elite = the Super Wealthy , Corporations , CIA etc and the Pentagon . We the people come first not the Power Elite

  8. I am an economic socialist(socialist , capitalist ideology or any ideology , identity politics, etc are anathema to me and many others) . The Atlantic is part of the wall street 'liberal' set . They are elites just like the gop and trump are elites . They are spitting out propaganda in this video . We do not yet know the facts of this issue . The Atlantic are Hillary Clinton shills . They don't want a people's party with members of the likes of Bernie Sanders , Tulsi Gabbard , Ocasio Cortez and the rest of we the people . The Atlantic is an elitist publication and they can go take a jump for all i care

  9. #HackRussiaBack I believe every individual of good conscience and skill should counter every move the Russians make at ten times the intensity. Our governments seem incapable or unwilling. It is up to individuals. If they bot in the free world, we bot back on Russian issues. If they mislead, we mislead back on Russian issues. Good press on Putin is met with truth about Putin. Ten times the intensity. Don't turn off the power or mess with flights, because that leads to people dying. Be considerate of life, but show them they can't stand up to thousands of individuals all around the world who can very effectively dissuade them from carrying on such hacking operations. How could they resist us? There's no way.

  10. USA better get it's head out of the sand. The Russians are hitting us with a highly effective attack on our democracy. Top government officials have been compromised. Our social media is now a large cunning, effective Russian propaganda machine. Our upcoming 2020 elections are not being defended from Russian cyber attacks. Lose our democracy, you lose your business, you lose your job, you lose your freedoms. You Lose.

  11. Are you saying people are stupid and brainwashed people vote for a president based on a live television debate and what the elected people actually say in public

  12. Fox News gets a free pass for 20 years of inciting racism and splitting the country b/c of Russia? Koch gets a free pass and Americans have to blame themselves?
    The NSA tracks EVERYTHING. Please explain how the Russians got past the NSA and almost NO ONE in national security said anything. Or how NO ONE spoke up when the Russians were targeting Obama. Hmm. Must all just be a coincidence.
    Our democracy died a long time ago and the US military seems to be proud of it at this point, or just maybe figuring out how badly the situation is completely fucked up.
    We never voted for Vietnam.
    We never voted for Iraq.
    9/11 was a lie a highschool sophomore could see through.
    The US security state missed the point. There is no such thing as a preventative war. There is NO reason to invade Venezuela, but Mr. Koch made one, so here we go again.

  13. 0.50 real news and fake news, so please tell us all real news, what is it? some private company CNN, BBC will decide to tell facts to people and not truth of owner of company? how primitive you need to be to think that this might happen? for 1 dollar people will lie, for no reason they will lie, but then millions are involved they will star to say truth?

  14. Man this is some next level conspiracy sh*t right here with 0 proof provided!

    Man I'd sooner believe Vermin Supreme than the Atlantic after this fear mongering they pulled XD

  15. They are trying sooooo hard. Bruh we know the US and Russia playing this stupid game with us just a social experiment

  16. Your only scared of psychological warfare because you don’t have trust in your fellow man. You think of yourself as an elite who can see through the BS while all those stupid Americans are helpless in their inferiority. I think the general population does a very good job of wading through the facts. Usually the people spreading misinformation are just uninformed people with shallow opinions that probably won’t vote anyway. So just ignore them.

  17. The problem with this video is the underlying assertion that America's political system was NOT broken before Russia hacked into it. And that's why they were so successful, and will be again.

  18. Bunch of fear mongering propaganda. When America falls, it won't be due to an outside force like Russia, it will be because we gave up our freedoms because we were scared.

  19. This is probably the thing I know the most about, I'm in University and I do research on this topic and a Doctor who is my lecturer will tell you this happens more often than you really want to know.

    We need all of you to become experts in this field so that we can protect our country from tyranny and abuse

  20. I like how there isn’t a single example of pages that are 100% verified as Russian accounts. Or one of these fake news stories that gained any meaningful traction. Or any evidence or statistics that memes and bullshit really changed people’s minds

  21. The weakness is vested in the peoples gullibility. People actually believe qanon & mass shooting are false flag operations. The USA is fucked because it has freedom and is a growing cesspool of idiots who believe the most insane nonsense. The USA won the Cold War because its system was better. But this time around I think the USA's freedom will work against it. The freedom to be ignorant, the freedom to be a moron.

    Russia are playing the USA and getting away with it. One reason is the GOP doesn't want to admit Russians are targeting their voters because they are more prone to believing in nonsensical theories, and have more bitterness running through them as the USA becomes more diverse.

  22. Merkel's German spies did it. There are about a billion potential suspects, as many as the NSA hacked under the Obama administration. Courts operate on good faith. Or they read skies for omens so don't need evidence.

  23. Ex-CIA & NSA technical director says forensic analysis shows DNC emails were not cyber-hacked but downloaded internally to a portable device.

  24. hi quality analysis …about something that there HAS NEVER BEEN ANY PROOF FOR.
    maybe merica should do another kind of analysis…OF ITSELF

    US politicals system has always favoured and considered a civil war of political parties to be a good indicator od democracy….but when country become ..2 countries within one…they are trying to bame others.

    europe is lot closer to russia,therefore they should have more to fear…BUT THEY DON'T ,they all want to improve relations with russia.


  25. I saw a similar video put out by the (anti-Trump) Washington Post and was amazed at how it, like this one. had the same wording and narrative as the Mueller Report. I thought it had been made after the Mueller Report. I looked at the date of the video and saw that it was 2017 like this one. The Mueller Report simply repeated what the media had already put out. It used the report by Cloudstrike paid by the DNC . The DNC never let the US intelligence community do forensics on their servers. The hacking of the DNC servers was never officially proved. It's like your house was broken into, you never call the cops, you hire a private investigator to make up a report and they hand it over to the cops to search for a the perpetrator with details supplied by your paid for private investigator.

    And oh yea, the IT manager of the DNC servers? He skipped town. And the ads on social media that were supposed to have influenced all of us? I don't recall Fox or CNN or MSNBC showing screenshots of these. You'd think we'd have seen them a thousand times by now right?

    Kinda like the Benghazi video thingy. Who was the maker of that video . . . what was his name . . . poof——-

    People, we're being played by both sides for advertising money. Who digs it?

  26. Never can tell what is propaganda and what is other forms of propaganda for everything now seems to be 100% propaganda.

    Just saying it as I see it.

  27. Unfortunately most (perhaps all) of this has been disproven – the quotes of inte agencies takes liberties that give a false impression. I used to love The Atlantic, but she seems to have gone the way of The Guardian to be commandeered for propaganda. Whatever it is that you believe, the fact remains that Russia is not the enemy of the American people; despite assertions to the contrary by corporate media and warlords.

  28. Can you show the evidence please! Even if it is true, it is a drop in the ocean compared to what the media, Hollywood and Silicon Valley did to sway the election for Hillary and will again.

  29. PAPER BALLOTS! There, I fixed your stupid made up vote rigging problem. As for misinformation and public persuasion you know this is what you get when education takes a way back seat to militarization in a Democracy. Russia is really just exploiting what we are doing to ourselves. We need the media to stop framing our issues with Russia in such a belligerent fashion: they are not one of our main problems, and they are far from being a substantial and credible economic or military threat. Our media focuses on Russia as a distraction from larger, complex internal issues and has for generations.

  30. You can watch more about fake news and media distortion in the playlist here:

  31. Firstly, this story of Russian interference in the US presidential election of 2016 is a proven lie, in order to denigrate Russia even more, and that President Tramp would have trouble cooperating with Russia (since everyone would blame him for not doing so the common good of all people – but in this way thanks to the Russians who "allegedly" helped him to become president)..And secondly, since 1945 until today, the United States is in the worst possible way interfere with the election and sovereignty of many countries, which is amazing. The US interfered in the elections, made political killings, helped organize military coups in many countries, only to install pro-US governments, to open pressures, economic sanctions, and military interventions that took millions of innocent, civilian and thousands of military, American victims..

  32. The controlled media of the biggest interventionist globally pointing the finger at Russia?
    Try harder to justify the propaganda money you get paid, the result doesn't convince even your people.

  33. What this video basically says is, that the american people are that dumb, that they can not distinguish bots from real people in social media… sure… you always have to blame someone, if your plans did not work out as intended.

  34. I haven't voted since 08 and I could have called Trump's win. People don't like Hilary her husband cheated on her and she stuck with him. And she's a woman. Let's not pretend that Obama is a black man. He's half white and half African. If people wanted her she would have been president in 08.

  35. As a non american i can tell you that US media is a mockery around the world, trying so hard on russians instead of accepting that a LOT of people didn't like Clinton

  36. Lemme tell you, I live in England but I'd rather vote for Joe Exotic than Clintons. Corrupt scum of the earth with zero morals ( although it's not like Trump is much better TBH)

  37. I have one question for you all. What have Russian hackers have to gain by hacking an election? Wouldn’t you be more inclined on getting someone’s bank statements and details rather than hacking an election? It seems a bit far fetched. They don’t get a cent out of it.

  38. It's amazing how a biased, liberal channel of SPIN can focus so much on the Russian connection to the elections, yet COMPLETELY IGNORE DECADES of Clinton CRIMINAL acts and Democratic rigging of elections. Where is the story of how Hillary swindled Bernie out of the election…? If it's only a crime when you don't get what you want, then you have something wrong with you, @TheAtlantic.


  40. After reading a lot of the comments, I still have the unanswered question… why would the Russians want Trump elected when Hillary gave away a huge amount of our uranuim supply? What else would they hope to get from her, if elected?

  41. the CIA has had American citizens under attack on two fronts: Lie directly through the government and to lie covertly through MSM outlets like The Atlantic, which has worked for decades to destabilize the relations between superpowers because that way the CIA budget always goes up and never gets questioned. They lied about the Gulf of Tonken, they lied about bombing Laos/cambodia, they lied about the first gulf war and the WMDs in the second one, and they gave money and weapons to ISIS and al Qaeda in Syria-the leaders of the intel community are evil.

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