Monday, March 11, 2013

Why It's Unlikely A "Hacker" Was Responsible For the Alleged Sinanyan Comments*

*4/19/13 UPDATE: Zareh Sinanyan Has Finally Admitted Responsibility For Online Comments

If City Council candidate Zareh Sinanyan chooses to deny the allegations that he made dozens of obscene Youtube comments in front of the City Council on Tuesday night (PDF) rather than apologizing and moving forward with his campaign, I'm guessing he will claim some variation on "I was hacked!"

There are two possible scenarios that explain the events we’ve seen. One in which Sinanyan is responsible for the comments, and one in which a supposed “hacker” is responsible.

A commenter named D. Johnson on the Glendale News-Press article makes a concise case against a supposed “hack” quite nicely, that I've expanded on:
Five years ago, someone named "Zareh Sinanyan" posted a comment on YouTube that said, among other things, "your entire family is composed of whores and ****suckers." In that same 5-year-old comment thread on YouTube, that same "Zareh Sinanyan" also said "I'm a business litigator" 
Now, there are only a few possibilities here: 
1. The comment was posted 5 years ago by the same Zareh Sinanyan now running for Glendale City Council 
2. The comment was posted 5 years ago by some other Zareh Sinanyan, not the person currently running for Glendale City Council, but also a business litigator 
3. The comment was posted 5 years ago by some nasty person using the name "Zareh Sinanyan", knowing that Zareh Sinanyan would be a political candidate sometime in the future, and that the comment could then be used to smear him 
4. The comment was posted anonymously 5 years ago under a pseudonym that due to Google+ and YouTube interaction later became linked to the real name of Zareh Sinanyan 
The simple fact is that makes #4 by far the most likely option is that the comment was posted to YouTube 5 years ago - unless you believe that YouTube, which is owned by Google, the world's largest and most secure website, is in on the "conspiracy." 

Additional evidence against the possibility of a nasty person impersonating Mr. Sinanyan is that somehow, that person would need to:

More things that don't make sense if an impostor was involved:

Why would any impersonator conduct a thorough cover-up of the damaging posts right after the e-mail with the tip had been circulated but before most of the public was aware of the allegations?

Would an impostor really go to the trouble of creating FIVE YEARS worth of fake posts, then not leave them up online for the world to see? Wouldn’t they leave them up instead of hoping local media could put the pieces together using incomplete cached versions of the comments? I’ve found dozens of very nasty posts in the cached versions of the comments, but those who viewed the original e-mail and looked through the full set of comments made by the Youtube account before the cover-up saw many, many more incriminating posts that were deleted and not cached.

Which explanation is most likely to be true?

As with any event that one does not personally witness, you can only verify information to a degree of probability based on the evidence available. And every single piece of publicly available evidence in this matter thus far points to a high probability that Mr. Sinanyan was responsible for the content of the posts and attempted to hide his connection to the Youtube and Google account when knowledge of the obscene comments became public.


previously:




24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Scott,
There's a missing piece of evidence: the fact that there is no documentation of Zareh ever saying or acting in a racist, sexist, homophobic way in real life. On the contrary, Zareh often tells other people to not use sexist, racist homophobic language.

Let's looks at your dismissal of the Turkish intelligence argument. One of your arguments is that youtube, google are impenetrable to hacking. Google and US banks have admitted that the People's Republic of China's military regularly penetrates their systems. Some Armenian Americans think that Turkey is the poor country it used to be. Turkey now has a sophisticated and wealthy eceonomy and has cyberwarfare capability.

Why would they target Zareh? If you have ever gone to April 24 Memorials at the Turkish consulate in LA, you will notice many non-journalists non-protestors taking many, many photos of the protestors. These guys are not taking picture for MOCA. Turkish intelligence has always taken a keen interest in the ANC. Imagine if the German government never admitted the Holocaust, how would they treat Simon Weisenthal's organization?

The hacking was fairly low-tech. Somebody had his password and access to some information about him and posted bad comments.

Another connection is where these website were uploaded. All of them seem to originate in either Turkey or Azerbeijan. One seems to be a terrorist video from the Caucusus. This increases the likelihood that Turkish intelligence was connected to the uploaded videos and was monitoring the dialogue. It's very possible that Turkish intelligence or even a private Turkish nationalist group hacked into his e-mail accounts at that time.

No one has explained why Zareh would want to spend his free time hanging out watching Chechnyan terrorists videos just so he could insult the people running it. Frankly, everytime I watch those videos I think that TSA will never let me fly again.

Some of the comments that "zareh" is responding to are in Georgian, and the real Zareh doesn't speak a word of Georgian.

Identity theft and cyberwarfare are part of the real world. Most people don't care if their identity was stolen unless they lose money or a credit rating.

Its very possible that Zareh's supporters combed through the internet and removed these materials. If I had a speaker system and kept on playing a recording that says "Scott hates Filipinos" (which is absolutely false) you should and would unplug that loudspeaker and recording.

Anyone who is a victim of identity theft knows that justice is a slow process. This election is just weeks away. There is no way that Zareh can get vindication from his opponents before the election. he has to count on his supporters and his long record of dedication to human, animal and even environmental rights. Scott, the reason this story interests some people is because it is so unbelievable and fantastic. If it so unbelievable, than maybe this is only a small part of the story.

Anonymous said...

From Lt. Col Umit Kurt of the Turkish Army's Report "Cybersecurity: A Road Map for Turkey"

"One of the most common targets for cyberactors is personal data which is of vital importance. In every aspect cyberwarriors and criminals alike can use stolen or hacked personal information to steal identities, seize bank accounts or conduct fraud."

Anonymous said...

This article is only important as to the capabilities of non-governmental Azeri hackers against Armenian targets


http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/view/27971/armenian-cyberwarriors-target-azeri-websites-after-safarov-pardon/

Anonymous said...

IF ISRAELI SECURITY COMPANIES LOST THEIR PASSWORDS TO TURKISH CYBERWARRIORS, HOW COULD ZAREH PROTECT HIMSELF. Please read Scott.

From the prestigious Israeli newspaper, Haaretz
July 21, 2010

Irked by flotilla raid, Turkish hackers launch cyberwar on Israel
Hackers have circulated user names and passwords belonging to over 100,000 Israelis, including those from major financial corporations, government ministries and data security companies.

A number of leading Israeli information-security companies have been marauded by Turkish hackers.

!Turkish hackers have been circulating user names, e-mail addresses and passwords belonging to more than 100,000 Israelis.! The list happens to include plenty of e-mails from major financial corporations, government ministries and data security companies. The city of Tel Aviv's website (shown below , before being fixed) has also come under attack more than once.

Many of the user names were seized in an attack on Homeless.co.il, a real estate classifieds site. The hackers have been trying to steal Israelis' personal information since the flotilla incident in late May. On the face of it, the information from Homeless may not enable the hackers to do anything more than register a false apartment ad in someone's name. But the catch is that many people use the same user names and passwords for all their accounts, including e-mail, Facebook and financial services such as PayPal.

Among the Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo e-mail addresses were 17 belonging to Justice Ministry employees, 10 belonging to Bank of Israel employees, as well as a handful of employees at the Interior Ministry, Finance Ministry and Israel Securities Authority.

In the private sector, there were between five and 10 employees from firms such as Bank Hapoalim, Harel Insurance, Clal Insurance, Bank Leumi and Leumi Card. Plenty of high-tech workers were on the list: 54 at software giant Amdocs, 35 at voicemail company Comverse, 25 at ECI Telecom, 24 at HP and 23 at Intel. Not to be left out were information security companies including NICE Systems (19 ) and Check Point (9 ).



MORE FROM HAARETZ.COM

Ruben K said...

The more and more this ignoramus waits to answer to these very seriously backed claims, the worse of a PR disaster he will have on his hands. Whoever is running PR for Zareh is doing a horrible job. He is going to get grilled at Tuesdays hearing. Seems like he isn't fit for the job, neither is nearly everyone else on this elections ballot. Incompetence runs rampant in Glendale's municipal government. Lets be really guys, Turkish hackers?! I don't think Turkish hackers analyzed that Zareh was rising in the ranks the last couple of years, and planted those comments just to tarnish his future reputation. Lets get real everyone. Ludicrous apologetic behavior from some of you people. I know what I say will make me a target for some distraught Zareh supporters. They will call me names such as traitor, and liar. But the fact remains why would any Armenian want this stain on our community to represent us at the municipal level? As if were not already deeply embarrassed from the Kardashian clan.

Anonymous said...

Zareh has to take his Hard drives to a computer security company to have the Hard drives examined. Scott, were there Any vĂ­deos on YouTube "zareh" commented on that were not uploaded by Turkish/Azerbeijani/Islamic fundamentalist groups? The link to Turkish hackers is clear because They are the ones who like those extreme websites. They "phished" Zareh's email password. The Anonymous informant has mixed legitimate comments from the Real Zareh with the toxins from the hackers. Zareh was an ANC activist before he was involved in city politics. The hackers compromised his computer several years ago. If he is really sexist and homophobic why is there no evidence from his life? There is no questions that a racist, sexist homophobe would express such opinion other than online. Can anyone document Zareh acting in a racist, sexist or homophobic manner? You can't. That means that hackers left the messages.

Garen Yegparian said...

Scott seems to be held up as a paragon of rectitude, yet the material I just posted casts doubt on the perception.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.10151312461531820.1073741825.594316819&type=3

Anonymous said...

Dude. If someone was slandering my name, I would fiel a defamation lawsuit, subpoena the information, and solve this instantly. His reluctance to do this is clear condemnation. It really is that simple.

Scott said...

In response to Garen: no need to report anonymously, anyone who wishes to can follow me on twitter @tropicostation - I proudly provide a link the bottom of all my posts! Over the course of 4300 posts, I proudly admit to occasionally using a curse word, expressing political opinions or tweeting a link to a Glendale News-Press story about someone masturbating in their car in Glendale. Shocking stuff, I know. At one point I even tweeted that I liked Zareh Sinanyan at a candidate forum! Regardless, attacking me does nothing to challenge any of the evidence linking Sinanyan's alleged Youtube comments to his verified accounts.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 1:46, the source is "anonymous". So, filing a lawsuit (which would take a couple of years to resolve) is no solution. Bottom line, we're talking profanity and nothing more. Many elected officials have actually committed ACTS worst than what ZS is supposed to have written and gone on to be (re) elected. So, please let's not wax poetic about how we don't want our political leaders to use naughty language. Simultaeneously, we are dealing with 2 candidates who are useing their seats on the council to beat back an opponent. Ara and Laura are the ones who represent something we should avoid: unrestrained use of power to destroy someone.

Anonymous said...

Gee, Scooby Doo and the Mystery Gang are working overtime in the comments section today. Next the Zareh sycophants will place blame on a Jewish cabal.

Zareh needs to directly address the issue. Mr. Sininayan, either admit or deny the authoring of the inappropriate comments. We need to move on from this issue.

Your silence is becoming deafening.

Anonymous said...

Scooby doo has paws, so he isn't the Anonymous Source of the email. Are the latest emails claiming that Zareh is an antisemite, prejudiced against Sikhs, Mormons, vegetarians and people with disabilities?

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's gotta be true that all of the nefarious resources of Turkish Intelligence are focused with laserlike precision on the City of Glendale, given Glendale's crucial geopolitical importance to the Republic of Turkey :-/

Anonymous said...

RESPONSE TO ANONYMOUS March 11 545 pm
THIS IS REAL NEWS OF PAST TURKISH CYBERATTACKS AGAINST GLENDALE TARGETS
Wednesday, December 29, 2010Turkish Hackers Attacked The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Website
The website of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has been attacked by hackers and blocked for a short period.

According to Turkish news agency Cihan, the attack took place this night and was conducted by a group of hackers from Turkey, Chile and Argentine. The group is known as “Code the Arts” and is headed by a notorious hacker nicknamed as Jeopardy.

The attack comes, Cihan added, as a response to ANCA’s efforts for the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, as well as for the campaign it launched against US NBA superstar Kobe Brayant for advertizing the Turkish Airlines. Read more... (236 words)

Armenian News

Anonymous said...

THIS IS A RE-POST OF A PRESS RELEASE FROM WHEN HACKERS ATTACKED THE ANC

Turkish hackers attacked ANCA's website from CIHAN News (Turkish)

Thu 30 December 2010 06:46 GMT | 2:46 Local Time

Text size:



ANCA

The website of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has been attacked by hackers and blocked for a short period.

According to Turkish news agency Cihan, the attack took place this night and was conducted by a group of hackers from Turkey, Chile and Argentine. The group is known as "Code the Arts" and is headed by a notorious hacker nicknamed as Jeopardy.

The attack comes, Cihan added, as a response to ANCA's efforts for the international recognition of so called Armenian Genocide, as well as for the campaign it launched against US NBA superstar Kobe Brayant for advertizing the Turkish Airlines.

Tert.am reported that the hackers took control of the website for a couple of hours and placed the Turkish flag and comments in support of Bryant on the front page of ANCA's website.

The materials placed by the hackers were removed by the website's administration a few hours following the attack.

TurkishNY

Anonymous said...

"Let He Who is Without Sin Cast the First Stone".

I've met Zareh a handful of times in a professional capacity. He is passionate and possesses a fierce intellect. And I would dare say that he has a strong moral compass -- things are either "fair" or unfair" in his mind. (But at least he has the balls to take a stand). And it is worth noting that his wife is probably smarter than he is.

Thus I believe that Zareh could fully support LBGT rights AND scream obscenities five years ago at the Genocide deniers and their ilk on-line.

I don't think think that those denying Zareh's alleged misdeeds are doing the candidate any favors. Zareh is bigger than that. And only he can right his own situation.

If Zareh wanted to he could focus exclusively on his career and make a bunch of money. Instead he has chosen to serve. (And have every mistake he has ever made drudged up for the publics consumption).

Before you condemn, give the guy a fair shake.

V is for ...... said...

You are very fast at judging somebody and not having any idea of what really happened, now that's real, you say even once you said you liked him as candidate, a month later you will say "oh, sorry, I was wrong" (or maybe without the sorry part).
If you didn't judge yourself and just told about all this and said "hey, readers, make the judgment yourself", now that would be something, showing how tolerant you are who is kind to everybody. But you attack like a hungry wolf somebody who haven't ever seen doing what you claim. You attack him with all your heart, with hatred and everything, somebody again you haven't seen doing what you claim, this is not much different than racial wars, people attack each other believing some stories about each other made by others. I am sure you won't understand this so ill stop, but the idea is if you attack somebody without giving them a chance then how can you criticize somebody who allegedly wrote bad comments to those who posted bad things about armenian genocide (that's 1.5mln armenian killed raped, it's not racial slur, it's real, the most intelligent, artistic people killed, imagine that first)

Anonymous said...

I had, literally, no interest in the Council election until recently. My plan was to head to the polls to vote for Ardy and Measure A, while abstaining from all other races/measures.

Seeing Zareh's handling of this mess, culminating with last night's pathetic showing at Council, moves me to reconsider. I'll be voting for Council for the sole intent of voting against Zareh.

Zareh claims that he doesn't view this blog, so perhaps his supporters can pass on the following message from a disappointed voter: We've all made mistakes in the past; your guy would be a better man for stepping up and accepting responsibility for his actions rather rather than acting like a jackass in front of the Council and voters.

Anonymous said...

In full agreement with anonymous above. I rarely, if ever, vote in a municipal election (sadly), but I am moved to vote this time.

All it would have taken was a clear "yes" or "no" to the simple question -- "did you write these words?"

And if his excuse to not answering that particular question really was that in the entire week leading up to the meeting he had not made any effort to track down the subject matter at hand.. well then I am even more certain that this is not the right person to be diligent, resourceful, responsible and ethical enough to represent me or the interests of my family. How will he vote on important matters for the city -- without researching or doing his due diligence?? And if he hadn't seen the material, what "words" was he referring to in his vague ambiguous statement "these words are not me..?"

I understand the strong tendency to want to support your candidate, your friend, and someone who has done good work in the past.. those deeds are not undone by a lapse in judgement years ago..
but if it was my friend or colleague in the same situation, I would urge him to come clean. Ultimately that is the only way to garner true support and respect.

What a mess. He must be under so much stress.. carrying the burden of truth in his heart. I feel for him in that regard.

Qalice said...

Thank you for wading into this situation. No one who knows how the internet works or has been privy to a nasty Armenian political fight can doubt that it is overwhelmingly likely that Zareh Sinanyan made these comments. I am sure that he doesn't express himself this way when he doesn't think he's anonymous, but he has no business on the Glendale City Council. I won't vote for him.

Anonymous said...

The council could've removed him and they didn't. Laura Friedman lost. There were virtually no citizens supporting Laura's position. No minorities or openly gay citizens commented at the meeting to condemn Zareh. This is just a dead end. Scott, get more wonkish and write about the council candidates views on important policy issues.

Anonymous said...

You have a right to vote for whoever you want. Prior to the influx of Armenians in Glendale in the 1970s Glendale was not the friendliest place for minorities and gays. Reagan condemned gays who died of HIV because Reagan claimed the plague was God's wrath. People in Glendale used to worship Reagan. Nothing Zareh is accused of saying anonymously as cached by an anonymous informant is as bad as that. This was a political trick that failed.

Scott said...

The onus wasn't on "gays and minorities" to show up and be angry with Zareh in front of a room of his most fervent supporters, the onus was on Zareh to defend himself with an unambiguous and clear denial of the allegations. And as anyone watching saw, and as anyone can see streaming now, and for the rest of the campaign on the city's website, he failed spectacularly -- truly spectacularly -- in that regard. I understand what a difficult position Zareh is in, but lashing out at others in the most divisive way one can in Glendale reinforced the worst perceptions of him -- particularly given that when he had the opportunity to defend himself, he was unable to deny that he wrote the comments.

He needs to hear some hard truths from people with his best interests at heart who will tell him things he doesn't want to hear. Truly. If he had listened to hard truths last week when the e-mail first appeared, this whole mess would now be mostly forgotten and the the rest of his campaign could have been spent building bridges instead of burning them.

Anonymous said...

From the heart:

Yesterday's council meeting left me questioning my faith in humanity.

What was worse?

1. The sheer stupidity and cluelessness of people like Dave Weaver, who obviously doesn't understand computers and thinks if he was open minded to Zareh's racism, it may score him a few Armenian-American votes next time?

2. The sheer Orwellian malice by members of the ANC who are determined to create as much smoke and mirrors and deception here to defend a racist a-hole, simply because he is their racist a-hole?

3. The mindnumbing doublespeak by Sinanyan himself, who would not deny he did this, couple with the inability of the progressives on the council to ask him the right questions, like: "here is a Glendale police officer. Let's file a police report !right now! under penalty of perjury so the GPD can find the IP addresses of whomever 'hacked' you."

4. Or, the fact that the paper covering the area, the GNP, is written at an always skeptical, hip/jaded/detached "we assume you're intelligent" grade level, and thus so far, while presenting a clear and convincing case of Sinanyan's guilt by detailing the facts dryly, has not overtly condemned the words and actions of a clearly guilty man. Several editors of the GNP are gay, and yet they don't have the guts to editorialize against a guy who called other posters "fagot (sic.) homos," even though it is now clear to anyone with one quarter of a brain that he is guilty.

5. And yes, I keep coming back to number 2: the disgusting willingness of the ANC Kool-Aid drinkers to defend this guy out of old-country ARF party loyalty, instead of actually being the enlightened folks that they claim to be, and admitting that they simply backed the wrong guy. The ANC gravely hurts the reputations of all Armenians, by failing to acknowledge truth or decency in anything the ANC does.

Sinanyan is unstable. His comments are the work of a reckless, angry, bitter, enraged, racist, homophobic, penis-obsessed narcissist. The thought that he would hold office anywhere is disturbing.

So, there's my rant. Everything is rather demoralizing. Except for one shining light, and that is that there are people out there like Scott Lowe who are savvy and smart and who give a damn and who have standards and who have morals and who speak up for the good of society.

Other than this blog, it hasn't exactly been a banner week for our Glendale community.