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US media shun WikiLeaks exposure of CIA plot to implicate Kaspersky

Explosive allegations by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks that the CIA had devised a means to impersonate exfiltration attempts from computers infected with its malware implants as being from Kaspersky Lab have been largely ignored by the mainstream US and tech media.

Organisations like The New York Times — the so-called newspaper of record — the Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, all of which ran  stories  in October linking Kaspersky Lab to Russian government hackers based on anonymous sources made no mention of the WikiLeaks disclosure which was made on Thursday US time.

There was no mystery about the source here – it was all laid out neatly by an organisation that has never had to retract any material it has released over many years because it was incorrect.

Tech sites like ZDNet, CNET and Ars Technica also steered clear of the story. Sites like Motherboard and Bleeping Computer covered the WikiLeaks release of the source code for a CIA malware control application, part of the release about Kaspersky, but ignored the Kaspersky angle altogether.

The Register, a British site, was one of the better-known sites to cover the story and focus on the Kaspersky angle. Beta News was another.

The fact that the CIA is trying to pin its infiltration attempts on a private company — which has been made a scapegoat for the current reds-under-the-bed scare in the US — was ignored by these media outlets because it does not serve the narrative that they seek to spread.


Though journalists are often claimed to be following stories because of the news angle, this case has exposed many among both the general and tech media who make such claims.

Instead, they have been exposed as partisan hacks who are inclined to follow a yarn only when it matches their jingoistic narrative.

Had WikiLeaks released anything claiming that the FSB, Russia's replacement for the KGB, was doing anything similar, we would have been drowned in headlines, social media posts and broadcasts, both on TV and radio. Not to mention YouTube and other streaming media sites. Every politician, including those who have been living on government pensions for the last 10 years, would have issued a statement.

In the end, what a senator from Russia said proved to be true. Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, was quoted as saying: "“This was supposed to be a worldwide sensation. But it never will. All [officials] and the media will keep their mouths shut."

It doesn't speak very highly of so-called liberal publications in allegedly democratic countries when a Russian politician's criticism proves to be prophetic.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.