White House Cyber Chief Warns of SolarWinds Hacking Damage

Date: 2021-02-17 20:51:45

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The White House’s national security official for cyber security, Anne Neuberger, is warning of continued fallout from the SolarWinds software computer hacking that lead to a massive breach of government departments and private corporations discovered late last year.

“This is challenging,” Neuberger told reporters. “This is a sophisticated actor who did their best to hide their tracks,” she said.

Intelligence and law enforcement officials are still trying to piece together the cyber espionage campaign that has badly shaken the U.S. government and private sector. The hack, connected to tainted software from the U.S. firm SolarWinds, was publicly revealed in December but believed to have begun more than a year earlier.

“We know we don’t have years and the remediation, the fix and cleanup work is underway already.” Neuberger said, adding, “we’ll be doing it in a careful way to ensure that we lock down layer by layer. ”

Updating what is known about the hack, Neuberger described it as most likely Russian in origin, but said investigations are continuing.

Thus far, Neuberger said, nine federal agencies and 100 private sector companies were compromised, but she said roughly 18,000 companies had downloaded the malicious software update. “The scale of potential access far exceeded the number of known compromises,” she said.

The intruders stealthily scooped up intelligence for months, carefully choosing targets from thousands of customers infected with malicious code they activated after sneaking it into an update of network management software first pushed out last March by Texas-based SolarWinds. The company makes popular software that monitors computer networks of businesses and governments.

So far, the list of agencies known to have been affected includes the Treasury, Commerce and Justice departments, along with several private companies including cyber security firms. The Russian government has denied any role in the hack.

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