Next is one of our occasional features. It's called "The little Thing" and it's when some there is something in an article, something passed over without comment or reference, that strikes me as much more significant or revealing than the way it's treated.
It this case, it came in a BBC report on the arrest in Spain of a Russian programmer suspected of large-scale hacking and of installing malicious software in hundreds of thousands of computers.
Much of Pyotr Levashov's alleged activity involved ransomware, the name given to computer viruses that block access to your computer or some portion of it and demanding some sort of ransom to unblock it, a release which is rarely if ever granted even if the ransom is paid.
Despite the claim of his wife Maria that his arrest had to do with a computer virus he created that was related to "Trump's win," the arrest more likely had to do with going after Russian cybercriminals who have been helping the Russian government with its cyberwar programs, which have included, it is alleged, state-sponsored cyberattacks on Russia's neighbors.
And this is where the little thing comes in. It was a comment quoted in the middle of the article with no mention of its meaning. It was from Milan Patel, managing director at a cybersecurity firm called K2 Intelligence and former chief technology officer of the FBI's cyber division. He said:
We've reached a boiling point with Russia. They are the closest competitor to the US when it comes to cyberespionage and cyberattacks. With Russia now, a lot is coming to the forefront and being made public about how they run their cyber activities.Wait, stop. They are "the closest competitor to the US?" Doesn't that mean the US is ahead of them? Doesn't that mean that the US is the world's leader "when it comes to cyberespionage and cyberattacks?"
It's a little thing, but just another reminder that the NSA has an entire bureau dedicated to enabling the agency to hack any computer system anywhere in the world, operating under the slogan of - and this is real - "getting the ungettable."
What's the line about people in glass houses?