Ars Technica: "Microsoft President Calls SolarWinds Hack an “act of recklessness”"

Posting ID 129028
Date Added: 12/18/2020 1:25 PM EST
Date Modified: 12/18/2020 1:25 PM EST
E-ISAC Staff

Description

An Ars Techica article published December 18th states that, "Of the 18,000 organizations that downloaded a backdoored version of software from SolarWinds, the tiniest of slivers—possibly as small as 0.2 percent—received a follow-on hack that used the backdoor to install a second-stage payload. The largest populations receiving stage two were, in order, tech companies, government agencies, and think tanks/NGOs. The vast majority—80 percent—of these 40 chosen ones were located in the US." 

These figures were provided in an update from Microsoft President Brad Smith. Smith also shared some insightful and sobering commentary on the significance of this almost unprecedented attack. His numbers are incomplete, since Microsoft sees only what its Windows Defender app detects. Still, Microsoft sees a lot, so any difference with actual numbers is likely a rounding error.

Smith stated, "It’s critical that we step back and assess the significance of these attacks in their full context. This is not “espionage as usual,” even in the digital age. Instead, it represents an act of recklessness that created a serious technological vulnerability for the United States and the world. In effect, this is not just an attack on specific targets, but on the trust and reliability of the world’s critical infrastructure in order to advance one nation’s intelligence agency. While the most recent attack appears to reflect a particular focus on the United States and many other democracies, it also provides a powerful reminder that people in virtually every country are at risk and need protection irrespective of the governments they live under."

Later in the article, FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia added, "As Microsoft cybersecurity experts assist in the response, we have reached the same conclusion. The attack unfortunately represents a broad and successful espionage-based assault on both the confidential information of the U.S. Government and the tech tools used by firms to protect them. The attack is ongoing and is being actively investigated and addressed by cybersecurity teams in the public and private sectors, including Microsoft. As our teams act as first responders to these attacks, these ongoing investigations reveal an attack that is remarkable for its scope, sophistication and impact." 

Category Type:
Cyber Security
TLP - White
Shared Count (15)
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