iDevice Security Alert; Putin the Great

View 826, Wednesday, May 28, 2014

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983





The reports of ‘ransom’ locking of iDevices from Australia are starting to spread to other countries, including the US. The process involves locking your phone as if you had reported it stolen. The attacker changes the access PIN on your phone, and asks for $100 (US/Euro) to unlock.

One clear explanation is here .

Any iDevice user (not just iPhone) should immediately change the password on their Apple account, and also change the access lock code on their device. The above article has good advice on what to do to prevent the attack.

Regards, Rick Hellewell, security guy

There is some discussion among experts as to the best way to proceed, and it may be that no one in the US is compromised, but that is not certain. Just in case, go to the Symantec link above and see for yourself what to do.

More later.  I am doing a bit about Putin’s strategy and US problems.


The Hungarians acted like Poles. The Poles acted like Czechs. The Czechs acted like swine.

This was the general summary of national behavior during the Hungarian uprising against the USSR in 1956. The event had some lasting consequences over time, among them the formation of the Nomenklatura who eventually became the actual ruling class of the USSR.

Vladimir Putin was four years old at the time of this uprising. In 1968 the Warsaw Treaty Organization – some of it – invaded Czechoslovakia to restore communist rule. Hungarian troops were part of the invasion. Putin was 16 years old.

In 1991 the Soviet old guard tried to regain control at the siege of the Russian parliament building in Moscow. The last Soviet army unit was called out to besiege the white house and surrounded it with tanks. A young Russian lieutenant was invited inside “to meet our President.” He came outside and told the mission commander that he thought they were on the wrong side, and Yeltsin wanted to talk to him. Yeltsin came outside, spoke from the top of a tank, and commander turned the tanks around so that the guns faced out to protect the building, not to besiege it, and the Soviet Union was ended. Putin was a 39 year old Lieutenant Colonel of the KGB. He resigned his commission on the second day of the attempted communist restoration.

In 1997 Putin became Deputy Chief of Staff to President Boris Yeltsin, and in 1998 he was appointed Director of the FSB, essentially the successor to the KGB. In 1999 President Yeltsin appointed him Acting Prime Minister of Russia, and when he promised Yeltsin that he would run for the Presidency he was formally appointed Prime Minister and confirmed by the Duma. In December 1999 Boris Yeltsin resigned, and under the new Russian Constitution Vladimir Putin became Acting President until the next election. His first Presidential act was to sign a decree which in effect granted amnesty to Boris Yeltsin and his family for any offenses committed while in office.

He was elected to the Presidency in a complicated election and installed as President in May of 2000. He was 48 years old. (John Kennedy was 44 when he was elected.)

The Cathedral of Jesus Christ, Savior, was demolished by Stalin to make room for a people’s palace that was never built, and became the site of a public swimming pool. One of the last acts of the Soviet Government before its final collapse was to give permission to the Russian Church to rebuild the Cathedral, which it did in time to be the site of the funeral of Boris Yeltsin. The principal speaker at Yeltsin’s service was Vladimir Putin, who was also present at the installation of statues of Tsar Alexander II, and of the last Tsar, Nicholas II. He was also present at ceremonies bestowing sainthood on the last Tsar, Nicholas II. He often attends events at the Cathedral.

It should be noted that Putin has always been a serious man. His KGB career was not spectacular, but he seems to have made friends within the service, and to have left without making many enemies. He was loyal to Boris Yeltsin. He is outwardly a loyal and religious patriot; it is the impression he has worked to give, and there is considerable evidence that much of the Russian population believes it. He has operated skillfully during the dismantling of the Soviet Union, and his statement that the destruction of the USSR was a great tragedy is made as a Russian patriot, not as a communist. Like all KGB officers he was a Party member, of course, but he was, he says, secretly baptized by his mother. He received a second baptism as Prime Minister. He publicly supports the established church and treats its officials with respect.

According to Gorbachev, at the time of the collapse of the Berlin Wall the United States assured Russia that there was no intention to expand NATO to the east. NATO would be a partner in the rebuilding of the new Russia. There is some controversy as to who promised what, but there is little doubt that Gorbachev and Yeltsin – and thus Yeltsin’s friend, advisor, and successor – believed this. The United States, it was thought, would confine its activities to its own interests. Russia would withdraw its support for communist regimes of no importance to Russia. This all ended when Clinton expanded NATO to the east, while the US took the anti-Slavic side in the Balkan wars. By the time Vladimir Putin became Prime Minister of Russia, there was deep suspicion of the intentions of the United States, and Russia began an new assessment of its foreign policy interests and objectives. The potential era of an American-Russian cooperation had pretty well ended, supposedly to the deep disappointment of Yeltsin.

Any realistic assessment of American strategy must take into account that while Russia is not as powerful as the Soviet Union was, it remains a Great Power, at least as much so as any European nation, and arguably not greatly inferior to the European Union. It is no longer the Second World, but it is not a minor power. As a Great Power Russia has a legitimate sphere of influence, and the Ukraine and Belarus are at least partly within it. The boundaries of Europe are unsettled. After World War II the boundaries of the Soviet Union – Belarus, Ukraine, and Lithuania (then part of the USSR) shifted west. The Polish populations were expelled. It should be understood that Belarus, Ukraine, and Lithuania had historic claims to those lands. Poland was compensated with Pomerania, part of East Prussia (the northern half went to the Russian FSR, and is now part of Russia), and large parts of Eastern Germany. The German population was expelled and replaced with Poles, including many of those expelled from the part of Poland that went to the USSR. East Germany accepted this; West Germany did not for many years, and there remains some sentiment for readjustment of the borders.

So long as the United States is part of NATO, these border disputes, actual and potential, are very much a concern for America.

Note also that many of the new border areas were settled by ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarussians. Note that most of Belarus speaks Russian, and the genetic differences between Belarussians and Russians are fairly small. Then we have the Cossacks. Their relationship with the government at Moscow has been complicated, and after the Ref Revolution Cossacks made up much of the White Army during the civil war. When that was won by the Red Army, “deCossackization” became a Stalinst policy, and that mixes with the “Harvest of Sorrow” in which starvation was used to pacify the Ukraine. Following WW II many Cossacks returned to Russia.

It’s getting late. The point of this is not a mere ramble. If the United States has an interest in the territorial disputes of Eastern Europe – and NATO requires us to take an interest in some of those affairs – we had best understand them. You may be certain that President Putin pays attention to these matters. His concern is the preservation of Russia and its return to something of its glory. This is the nation that defeated Napoleon when everyone else had failed to do so; and it was the Army of the Soviet Union that occupied Berlin when the second World War ended.


I will continue this another day, and put all of it together in a single essay after it is finished. The purpose is to show the situation as I believe Putin sees it, and to look at the situation of eastern Europe from the viewpoint of American interests. That doesn’t seem very common now.






Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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