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SolarWinds Targeted Attack: Everything You Need to Know

solarwinds hack

SolarWinds is a IT firm in Texas, is the latest victim of a massive cyber security attack that left up to 18,000 of its customers vulnerable to the hackers. Many of which are high profile clients.

“In a nutshell, SolarWinds’ Orion product provides centralized monitoring across an organization’s entire IT stack. That means the attackers who were able to compromise this platform had an extremely high level of access to all of these client systems,” David Kennedy, CEO of TrustedSec, recently told Fox News.

The attackers which are suspected to be foreigners from Russia, managed to install malicious code into the company’s software undetected. When the company released a harmless software update to all its clients, it was anything but harmless. 

You might be wondering how can a major IT firm in the industry of security, end up being the one hacked?

Well many companies regularly maintain and optimize their software. This includes everything from adding new features, fixing a variety of bugs to more serious tasks. Like addressing potential loopholes that hackers can use to exploit the software. 

When these changes are made, they are sent out as updates that we download. This is the primary way to ensure we aren’t running outdated buggy software, with security risks. Therefore, we update our computers and cellphones every few months. 

However, whenever code is changed, even if that is to address a vulnerability, at the same time it may open the potential for other risks. 

It is highly unlikely, but If a mistake is made or a hacker discovers a loophole in the new code, essentially, they can bypass the software’s security. In many cases, there is no way to measure to what level the damage was done and what was exposed.

 What makes this case particularly one of the worst attacks, is that the breach went undetected for months and presumed to have exposed data in the highest places of government, including US military and the White house. 

When the software was hacked, a back door was created. The hackers were able to further the damage by installing even more malware. We can only guess this included many months of spying, collection of data, and implementing the virus as deep as possible.

Fox news stated that “According to Reuters, the hack was so serious it led to a National Security Council meeting on Saturday.” 

The weight of damage is still unknown but there’s is no doubt a planned attack may be coming.

Ciaccia, Chris. “What Is SolarWinds? A Look at the Hacked Software Company in Crosshairs.” Fox Business, Fox Business, 17 Dec. 2020, www.foxbusiness.com/technology/what-is-solarwinds-hacked-software-company.

Jibilian, Isabella. “Here’s a Simple Explanation of How the Massive SolarWinds Hack Happened and Why It’s Such a Big Deal.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 24 Dec. 2020, www.businessinsider.com/solarwinds-hack-explained-government-agencies-cyber-security-2020-12#:~:text=Beginning%20as%20early%20as%20March,spy%20on%20companies%20and%20organizations.