Ladies and gentlemen, I have once again snagged a major scoop. Edward Snowden, still in Russian exile, has favored me with another leak. He’s annoyed that Obama pardoned Chelsea Manning but not him. “What do I have to do, get a sex change?” he fumed. He really enjoyed the firestorm when I published his leak of the Siri-Cortana affair (“Siri and Cortana Tangle”, April 2015, https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/dn948115.aspx). So to stir up more trouble, he sent me this transcript of Vladimir Putin conspiring with his chief hacker, Roman Rodionovitch Raskolnikov.
Putin: Raskolnikov, that was great job you just did, hacking Democratic party.
Raskolnikov: Spasibo, gospodin [thank you, sir].
Putin: How you get into Hillary’s server?
Raskolnikov: Was easy, just guessed password: “MadamPrez”. Nichevo [hakuna matata].
Putin: Did she use it when she was secretary of state?
Raskolnikov: Are kidding, boss? She using it when Bill governor of Arkansas in 1979.
Putin: Does NSA not make her change it once in while?
Raskolnikov: Sure. Like everyone else in whole world, she just bump up last character. MadamPrez1. MadamPrez2. Pozhaluysta. [Please].
Putin: What you use for front end?
Raskolnikov: VB6, of course. Doesn’t everybody? We really screwed if Microsoft ever break compatibility. Might have to learn .NET. We call it .Nyet for reason, you know.
Putin: Obama said he retaliate against us: “When we want, in our own time and we may not even make it public.” Did he ever do anything?
Raskolnikov: Da. Someone sneak through black web and wipe out my high score in Tetris.
Putin: How bad?
Raskolnikov: Not terrible. Tetris is Russian game, after all. I get it back in afternoon. Have great hack, drop long block whenever I want it.
Putin: BTW, I’ve always wondered. Are you guy from Crime and Punishment?
Raskolnikov: Was my great grandfather. Dostoevsky really hammered him.
Putin: Does book remind you of today?
Raskolnikov: Today more like The Idiot. I snagged Podesta’s password with classic spearphish: “Your password has been compromised. Please click on this link to change it.” Like candy from baby. My 6 year old knows better.
Putin: And there goes Plattski guy, publishing leak. I wish he’d just shut heck up.
Raskolnikov: So do his readers.
Putin: You told me you hack municipal birth record files, and his family name originally Platovsky. Has Russian blood, I hear.
Raskolnikov: Maybe we get him over here, then spill some of it.
Putin: What next for you?
Raskolnikov: Well, Trump just proposed that US and we cooperate on cybersecurity plan. Think we should, boss?
Putin (chuckles): Sounds like putting wolf in charge of sheep herding. I like it. Got other ideas?
Raskolnikov: I put bot on Trump’s Twitter feed, pretending be biggest fan. Start self-reinforcing positive feedback cycle. Never thought I get away with it. I mean, just name, Nicole Mincey. And Trump actually believe. Too easy, like dynamiting fish.
Putin: You must have read Plattski’s article on Ashley Madison chatbots. (https://msdn.microsoft.com/magazine/mt620019). Just present users stuff they fervently wish was true, then they’ll deceive themselves.
Raskolnikov: Works every time.
Putin: What you have for 2020 election?
Raskolnikov: Same as for Trump, boss. Email bots flooding inboxes, encouraging entire Democratic party to run for presidential nomination, promising grass roots support. They spend all time and money fighting each other, nothing left for run against Trump.
Putin: Is working?
Raskolnikov: Just look at Democratic candidates. Pete Buttigieg? Marianne Williamson? Robert O’Rourke? Shutki v storonu? [Seriously?]
Putin: You’ve earned vacation. Got plans?
Raskolnikov: I’ve always wanted visit Disneyland. They wouldn’t let Khrushchev go there when visited Eisenhower in 1959. I wanted to vacation there next winter, when cold here. But now they arrest me if I set foot in US.
Putin: That’s OK. I’ll just ask President Trump to pardon you, like sheriff guy. Will you hack yourself VIP pass so you won’t have to wait in line at Space Mountain?
Raskolnikov: Tough one, boss. Hacking NSA is one thing, but Disney geeks are really on ball. I think I’ll have to pay for that one myself.