Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fake News Update: CNN Uses Screenshots From Fallout 4 To Depict Russian Hackers, WashPost Story On Russian Hackers Accessing Power Grid Was Fake News

Fake News: CNN Uses Screenshots from Fallout 4 to Depict Russian Hackers

In a recent CNN story about retaliatory White House sanctions against Russia over unproven allegations of election hacking, the network amusingly used screenshots from the extremely popular Fallout 4 video game to depict ‘Russian hackers.’

CNN was quickly mocked by Reddit users on a Fallout 4 subreddit, and later by pretty much everyone else, for using the image of a green screen with a series of random letters and words from one of the most popular games of the year.

CNN used a pic from Fallout to illustrate Russian hacking 😂

“Well, they seem to cover all their bases by having the Matrix code as well creep down the screen at about 0.11 in,” a Redditor wrote.

Images from the video game were featured both on CNN’s televised news and in an online article hilariously demonstrating what hacking looks like. In Fallout 4, players solve word puzzles in mini games to “hack” computers and unlock doors and safes, although there is nothing about the play of the game that resembles real-world hacking processes.

“Sorry pulling images of a video game and airing them as part of your hacking story is the definition of journalism fail. It's sensationalist (ooh look how those dastardly hackers operated) and completely unnecessary to report the actual story,” another Redditor commented. “An image of a stock computer could just as easily have accompanied this story, but that was obviously not flashy enough for CNN.”

As Alfred Ng wrote for CNET, it is highly unlikely that alleged Russian hackers used Pip-Boys, a game device within the Fallout play environment, to disrupt the US election.
In Fallout 4, player’s computers are not connected to the internet, as users are inserted into a post-apocalyptic city of Boston in 2287, and play as a “sole-survivor” of nuclear devastation.
CNN has since replaced the clip on their website, though it is still available on their YouTube channel.

The Washington Post, a media outlet leading the charge against “fake news,” is apologizing again after publishing an alarming story falsely claiming that Russian hackers had penetrated the US power grid through a Vermont utility.

The headline of the original story declared, “Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to US electrical grid security, officials say.” But the story was a fabrication. The article, which sourced unnamed officials, was rapidly debunked as officials stated that there was no evidence that the Russian government hacked or targeted the utility. Not only was there no penetration of the US power grid by Russia, there was no penetration by anyone.

The story remains active on their website, with its false headline, though an editor's note has been added asserting that “an earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the US 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.”

According to a thorough debunking of the original story by Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept, The Washington Post failed to contact Burlington Electric before running its sensationalized piece. If The Washington Post had performed even this extremely basic journalistic duty, they would have learned that the laptop in question was not connected to the network that controls the power grid.

“Media reports stating that Burlington Electric was hacked or that the electric grid was breached are false,” the company said on their website.
Greenwald also pointed out that malware can be bought and sold by anyone.
“Assuming that Russian-made malware must have been used by Russians is as irrational as finding a Russian-made Kalishnikov AKM rifle at a crime scene and assuming the killer must be Russian,” Greenwald wrote.

On Monday, the Washington Post released a followup article, admitting that they were incorrect.

Russia is not behind the malware activity at the Vermont power utility in the US, the Washington Post reports quoting unnamed officials. The article follows a correction of another report by the newspaper, alleging Moscow hacked the US power grid via Vermont.
On 30 December last year, Burlington Electric a Vermont-based power company, raised the alarm over a potential malware on one of its computers and reported the case to the authorities.

So, WP: "Russian hackers" invaded US electricity grid!!! ---> oh, actually, just a laptop ---> oh, it wasn't Russia

The evidence suggests “the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility,” the newspaper reports, referring to the respective officials. The alert during the email check is “not descriptive of anything in particular,” Robert M. Lee, chief executive of cybersecurity firm Dragos is quoted as saying.
A day after the incident at the Vermont utility, the Washington Post headlined its  story, “Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility.” Citing unnamed officials, the Post alleged that the supposed hack even put the entire “US electrical grid security” at risk. 

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