SolarWinds hack and cybersecurity

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In December 2020, a host of government agencies were breached by Russian hackers who infiltrated federal networks in what is now known as the SolarWinds cyberattack. In this cyberattack, email accounts from a range of different agencies and companies, including the Department of Treasury were compromised. What makes this cyberattack so critical is that this attack went on for a number of months before being detected.

What is known is that the information that was subjected to the breach impacts some of the nation’s highest-ranking officials and national security. The sophistication of this breach is like none other. The hackers were able to mimic Mimecast certificates used to authenticate  Upon further investigation of the breach, which is said to have begun in July of 2020, it is undetermined how deep the damage has and will be. What is clear is that the hackers behind this breach were very skilled, with a deep knowledge of Microsoft’s infrastructure and operation security (OpSec). This intricate understanding is what allowed them to go seemingly undetected for months, and gave them time to reap havoc with their malware.

In the wake of this devastation the now President, Biden, is kicking cybersecurity efforts into high gear, to help diagnose and remedy the shortcomings of this breach, from the last administration. Sources have suggested that Biden is opening a cyber-centric office, which will be led by the National Cyber Director — with the leading candidate being Jen Easterly– and composed of a “world-class” group of cyber experts.

It is now believed that this incident is just the tip of the iceberg for what’s to come in cybercrime developments. Due to the deep sophistication of this hack, coupled with the ongoing pandemic effects of COVID-19, it is likely that other similar cyberattacks may be unearthed in the weeks and months to come. President Biden has appointed Anne Neurberger as the Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology and will be leading the administration’s response to the SolarWinds breach, with recent reports citing possible sanctions on Russia for their involvement. These sanctions have not yet been imposed, but it is important to note that White House is continuing to work on a comprehensive response to address this and other potential breaches.

Earlier this week, the White House announced its plan to make a major move over the next three weeks. Stay tuned as this story is still developing.

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