Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

Complete Media Fail in Blaming Russia for Last Year's US Bank Hacks

  • The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, the Daily Telegraph - they all piled on, trumpeting the news fed to them by the FBI and NSA that the Russians were behind it - suggesting it was a pseudo military attack in connection to war tensions over Ukraine
  • Now the perpetrators have been caught.  Turns out they have no connection to Russia
  • Being a mainstream journalist means never having to apologize

This article originally appeared at The Vineyard of the Saker


It has become a common occurrence for the western ruling elites, and their propaganda ministries of the mainstream media euphemistically called the “free press”, to immediately blame Russia for a litany of perceived misconduct, whether there are grounds for such allegations or not.

<figcaption>Deliberate smearing or incompetence?  We're not sure which is worse</figcaption>
Deliberate smearing or incompetence? We're not sure which is worse

Often such baseless allegations are conflated with other events in the western narrative to give the allegations an aura of credibility and convince the western public of the nefarious threats to western civilization caused by “a resurgent Russia.”

Readers of this blog need no reminder of the list of such false allegations, of which the MH-17 attack is among the more blatant.

What is also a common occurrence is that when the initial allegation of alleged Russian “misconduct” or “aggressiveness” is proven to be wholly without merit, the reporting on the incident frequently not only fails to correct the record or retract the initial allegations, it most often reports on the real findings of the incident without even mentioning that Russia was initially, and incorrectly, blamed for the event.

A loyal reader of this blog has pointed out one such recent event, and has co-authored this post at my request to help set the record straight in regards to a widely reported cyber attack of western banks last year that was falsely blamed on Russia, as the light of truth needs to be shone whenever possible on the dark side of the false Western narrative.

In August, 2014, it was widely reported that the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) had opened an investigation into allegations that a massive data hack of five major western banks, most significantly JPMorgan Chase & Co., was the work of Russian hackers intent on exacting revenge on the West for the imposition of sanctions on Russia. In the hacks, data on upwards of 83 million of the banks customers were breached.

For example, an article published by the media titan Wall Street Bloomberg Business, with the headline “FBI Said to Examine Whether Russia Tied to JPMorgan Hack”, opened the report by declaring:

Russian hackers attacked the U.S. financial system in mid-August, infiltrating and stealing data form JPMorgan Chase & Co. and at least one other bank, an incident the FBI is investigating as a possible retaliation for government sponsored sanctions.” The article stated “Attacks on the U.S. financial sector from Russia and Eastern Europe have jumped over that last several months, according to several cyber security experts. Companies and U.S. officials are examining the possibility that the uptick is related to the conflict over Russia’s behavior in Ukraine”, stating that “The incidents occurred at a low point in relations between Russia and the West. Russian troops continue to mass on the Ukrainian border and the West tightens sanctions aimed at crippling Russian companies, including some of the country’s most important banks.

The article declared that “The sophistication of the attack and technical indicators extracted from the bank computers provide some evident of a government link” while acknowledging that the attack may simply be a criminal, not state sponsored, breach. The report is given additional significance by mentioned that the National Security Agency was aiding the investigation. Further plausibility was offered for the attack being blamed on Russia; JPMorgan was reported “singled out for criticism when it blocked a payment from the Russian embassy to the affiliate of a U.S. sanctioned bank” wherein “Russia’s foreign ministry called the move by New York-based JPMorgan “illegal and absurd.” The article quoted security consultant who boldly declared that “Russia has a policy of reactionary attacks in relation to political contexts.”

(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-08-27/fbi-said-to-be-probing-whether-russia-tied-to-jpmorgan-hacking)

Likewise, Britain’s Telegraph headlined an article on the hack as “FBI Investigates alleged Russian cyber attack on Wall Street,” stating that “The FBI is investigating whether Russian hackers staged a cyber-attack on major Wall Street businesses this month in retaliation for US sanctions imposed over Ukraine”, citing the Bloomberg report. It went on to say “There has been a rise in the number of cyber attacks on US financial institutions this year from Russia and eastern Europe as relations have deteriorated between Washington and Moscow during the Ukraine Crisis.”

As did Bloomberg, the Telegraph report asserted that

“The sophistication of the attacks appeared to be beyond the capability of normal criminal hackers” which “fueled suspicion that the operations may have been launched in retaliation for the US imposition of tougher sanctions on Russian banks and companies for Moscow’s aggression over Ukraine.”

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnes/northamerica/usa/11060339/FBI-investigates-alleged-Russian-cyber-attack-on-Wall-street.html)

As part of the propaganda barrage, the authoritative Janes360, a defense and intelligence service, published an article on August 27, 2014 entitled “Sanctions on Russia will increase risk of cyber attacks against Western companies and critical infrastructure” in which its bulleted “Key Points” declared that “Increased Western sanctions against Russia suggest that retaliatory cyber attacks are more likely.” The article referred to the JPMorgan Chase hack, and reported that “the attacks were the work of Russian hackers, as the level of sophistication was too high for normal criminals, suggesting state sponsorship. As well as state and financial assets, critical national infrastructure (CNI) and large companies considered to be “symbolically Western” are likely to be within the target set for any potential state-sponsored cyber attacks.” The article then went on to air a laundry list of alleged Russian cyber attacks against western institutions.

More importantly, Janes used the alleged JPMorgan cyber attack to remind its audience that the US Congress “has continually failed to pass cyber security legislation, hindering the ability to counter cyber threats.” It reminder the reader of warnings by Richard Clarke and former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta “of Russian retaliatory cyber attacks in April, 2013 as a natural counter to Western economic sanctions” with Panetta calling cyber attacks the “battleground of the future” and said that Russia is second only to the US in cyber capabilities.” Janes forecast that although hundreds of millions of dollars/pounds were budgeted by western powers to develop national cyber security strategies, the author feared that “any government measures are likely to be restricted by budgetary constraints,” a not so subtle call for even more Western defense spending to ward off the evil cyber forces of the East.

(http://www.janes.com/articles/4245/sanctions-on-russia-will-increase-risk-of-cyber-attacks-against-western-companies-and-critical-infrastructure)

Needless to say, many other western media outlets dutifully repeated the allegations, adding them to the war hysteria that existed during the height of the war in the Donbass last August, where Novorossiyan armed forces were in the midst of their successful counter-offensive that saw them close the Ilovaisk cauldron, liberate Novoazovsk and move on Mariupol, while threatening to break out and attack north towards Severodonetsk, Starya Krasnnyanka and Artemovsk. The Minsk I accords were signed on Sept. 5th, just one week after this spate of reports of alleged Russian responsibility for the JPMorgan hacks.

Flash forward a year, and you will find reports that emerged on July 21, 2015 that four people were arrested for the JPMorgan and other bank cyber attacks of August, 2014, with a fifth suspect remaining at large. Unsurprisingly, those arrested were not “Russian state sponsored hackers.” Also unsurprisingly, very few of the reports included any reporting that informed the reader that the JPMorgan hack was initially, and incorrectly, blamed on Russia.

The MSM reports detailed how the four suspects, two Israeli citizens as well as US citizens Joshua Aaron and Anthony Murgio, were charged with using the hacked data in a “complex securities fraud scheme”, as reported by Fortune, where the data was used for a “pump-and-dump” stock fraud, using bulk emails and pre-planned trading to pump up the targeted stocks for their own personal benefit. USA Today, among others, reported that the scheme also included an “illegal bitcoin operation.”

Perusing the reporting of the titans of western MSM, from Bloomberg to Fortune to Reuters to USA Today to CNBC, it is difficult to find any reporting on the arrest that point out that blame for the subject cyber attacks was initially placed upon a “resurgent” Russia. Apparently most of the western presstitutes, as our friend Paul Craig Roberts calls the Western “free press,” did not find it fit to print that the cyber attacks were premised upon no motive greater than the foundational virtue of Western capitalism, namely greed.

A specific search for any reporting of the arrest by the “respected defense publisher” Janes360 found zero results. Presumably minor criminal arrests for fraud are outside the scope of reporting by a major mouthpiece of the military industrial complex.

In direct contrast to the reports of “sophistication” of the alleged Russian cyber attack, the august titan of the financial media industry Bloomberg, whose “Russia did it” headlines screamed so loudly in August 2014, meekly reported that “Digital Misfits Link JPMorgan Hack to Pump-and-Dump Fraud.” While reporting that “JPMorgan officials argued initially that one of the largest J.S. bank hacks in history was the work of the Russian government,” the report failed to provide any details of the initial assertion that the hack was Russian “retaliation” for Western sanctions related to the Ukraine coup. The article did note that the JPMorgan chief information security officer was reassigned “amid discord over his handling of the breach”, wherein the ISO and his boss, a former head of the US Air Forces cyber combat unit, “were the chief advocates of the theory that the Russian government was involved in the breach.”

(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-21/fbi-israel-make-securities-fraud-arrests-tied-to-jpmorgan-hack)

Among those outlets that maintained some semblance of journalistic integrity was the Washington Post, which wrote that “The charging documents make no mention of the intrusion into JPMorgan, which garnered front-page headlines last year for the theft of data belonging to 76 million households. Bloomberg Business reported that the breach was the work of Russian hackers, possibly sponsored by the Russian government in retaliation for Western sanctions over its behavior in Ukraine. Instead, the people allegedly behind the hack have nothing to do with the Russian government or Russian crime rings, said a second individual.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-israel-make-arrests-in-schemes-thought-to-be-tied-to-jpmorgan-hack/2015/07/21/321ebcaa-2fd7-11e5-97ae-30a30cca95d7_story.html )

The NY Times also found the link fit to print, albeit buried near the end of the column, that “The attack on JPMorgan garnered major headlines and attention last year because of the number of people affected and a theory that it may have been tied to Russian gangs, with possible ties to the Russian government. Federal authorities, however, quickly ruled out the Russian government as a suspect, as well as the possibility of direct ties to Russian gangs.” Apparently being genetically incapable of completely exonerating the evil Russians though, the Times reported that “The court filings on Tuesday, however, suggest some loose connection to Russia.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/business/dealbook/4-arrested-in-schemes-said-to-be-tied-to-jpmorgan-chase-breach.html )

Finally, Reuters did the same, with the second to last sentence of the article informing the reader that “The JPMorgan attack initially prompted speculation that Russian hackers were involved, but U.S. investigators ruled out Moscow early in the case.” No mention of linkage of the alleged Russian state involvement to the Ukraine or Crimean sanctions regimes was made.

(http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/21/us-jpmorgan-fraud-idUSKCN0PV24L20150721)

It is interesting to contrast the reporting of the initial allegations versus the actual arrests in the trade publication arstechnica.com. ARS also dutifully propagandized the initial Bloomberg report, and the “sophistication” of the cyber attack. That same website reported on the actual arrests for the cyber attack on JPMorgan, without mentioning once its lengthy, but faulty, initial report.

(Compare http://arstechnica.com/security/2014/08/jpmorgan-other-banks-hacked-and-fbi-looks-to- russia-for-culprits/ with http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/07/4-men-reportedly-arrested-in-relation-to-jpmorgan-chase-hack/ )

This incident aptly demonstrates how the ruling elites of the AZ empire frame the false Western narrative of Russian “misconduct,” vociferously asserting baseless and unsubstantiated allegations of Russian responsibility for wrongful acts without the slightest hesitation even before an investigation is undertaken, while meekly and mildly, if at all, reporting on the results of the actual investigation that demonstrate the false nature of those boisterous initial allegations.

This incident is obviously not the first such example of the clear disconnect between factual events and the false Western narrative directed against the target of Western ire, and the despicable charade of the more than one-year long investigation of the MH-17 tragedy will likely not be the last in a long string of initial bombastic propaganda directed against Russia and the others members of the resistance to the AZ empire being proven false. Such incidents, however, should not escape examination of those who seek the truth, and need to be highlighted whenever they occur.


JiminNH is a USAF veteran who resides in NH.  The motto “Live Free or Die” on the license plate should not be just a quaint historical relic of a once great constitutional republic

Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

Our commenting rules: You can say pretty much anything except the F word. If you are abusive, obscene, or a paid troll, we will ban you. Full statement from the Editor, Charles Bausman.