Feb. 23 – Technology executives testified before Congress on Tuesday that there was an unparalleled degree of size and complexity in the hacking of computer networks used by large U.S. corporations and federal agencies.The strategy of targeting the network management company SolarWinds Corp., whose software is used by thousands of government agencies and private sector companies to control information technology infrastructure,’ the CEO of the company, Sudhakar Ramakrishna, testified before the Senate select committee on intelligence,
revealed a major challenge to the global supply chain of software.Last week, White House deputy national security adviser Anne Neuberger said investigators found that the attack had violated nine federal agencies and 100 businesses.Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, which publicly announced the intrusion after discovering a leak in its own network, said that as part of a “multi-decade campaign” on behalf of the Russian government to penetrate U.S. companies and government agencies, hackers inserted malicious code into a SolarWinds software update.
In October 2019, Mandia said hackers initially inserted innocuous code into SolarWinds software updates to test how far the malicious code could propagate before it was released in March 2020. Until December, FireEye did not discover the violation.Microsoft president Brad Smith said it appeared that “a thousand very skilled, capable engineers” were working on the attack that affected the organization, including giving hackers access to up to 3 percent of email accounts from the Justice Department.
We haven’t seen this degree of complexity matching this sort of scale,’ he said. After former President Donald Trump had indicated that China may have been involved, Smith had specifically named Russia as the sole culprit behind the attack.”At this stage, we’ve seen substantial evidence that points to the Russian foreign intelligence agency and we have found no evidence that leads us anywhere else,” he said. “We’ll wait for the rest of the formal steps to be taken by the government and others, but there’s not a lot of suspense at this moment in terms of what we’re talking about.
“In response to the attack, the United States is planning sanctions and other punitive measures against Russia, The Washinton Post and CNN announced Tuesday, citing officials acquainted with the matter.During the hearing, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., proposed legislation requiring corporations to disclose violations of cybersecurity to the government and to enforce enforceable international cyberspace standards to deter further attacks of this nature.
“Preliminary indications suggest that the scope and scale of this incident are beyond any that we’ve confronted as a nation and its implications are significant,” said Warner, the committee’s Democratic chair. “The footholds these hackers gained into private networks — including some of the world’s largest IT vendors — may provide opportunities for future intrusions for years to come.”Ramakrishna said the bug that led to the breach has been fixed by recent SolarWinds software updates and that the organization is committed to preventing such attacks from happening in the future.”We are embracing our responsibility to be an active participant in helping to prevent these types of attacks,” he said. “Everyone at SolarWinds is committed to doing so and we value the trust and confidence our customers place in us.”