U.S. officials are blaming Russia for hacking a multitude of government computer networks. Experts fear it could take years to assess the damage.
The shocking report earlier this week that several federal agency networks were hacked was followed up by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying on Friday Russia was likely behind the cyber-attack.
- According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the hack was possible due to holes in a program created by Texas software company SolarWinds, which is used on government and private corporate networks.
- The network intrusion, the size and consequence of which is still unknown, is an example of the need for the United States to form a “deterrent strategy” against hacks like this according to former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
- Federal agencies attacked include the Department of Energy and several subsidiary offices dealing with nuclear weapons and nuclear research, but a spokesperson for the Department said the investigation has so far shown the hackers did not access “critical defense systems.”
- The hack appears to have also affected non-federal networks, as at least one local government and major companies like Microsoft and Cox Communications were hacked.
- Axios editorialized their reporting with a section titled “If this had been a physical attack on America’s secrets, we could be at war.”
- While the Trump White House has yet to comment on the breaches, a statement from President-elect Joe Biden said addressing the hack will be a “top priority” for his administration.
- The New York Times framed the hack as a total failure of a federal effort that spent billions in cyber capabilities recently only to have so many networks breached, while a former Homeland Security official wrote in the NY Times’ opinion pages that the hackers hit us at our most vulnerable time.
- New York Magazine dusted off the discredited “Trump is a Russian Asset” conspiracy in an article on the White House response.
- An op-ed in The Washington Post argued that the technology itself is not to be blamed, but that the web of vendors and their software we rely on creates many vulnerabilities in the “software supply chain.”
- The Wall Street Journal included sentiments from officials saying the official response has been “slow and disjointed” because the attack was uncovered “during the presidential transition.”
- The New York Post took a similarly dark tone, quoting cyber expert Bruce Schneier, saying the only way to guarantee affected networks are safe again is “to burn it down to the ground and rebuild it.”
- Fox News’ reporting centered on the media absence of Christopher Krebs, the since-fired head of CISA, saying he was a hot commodity in competing outlets when he was discussing his disagreement with President Trump on election fraud.
© Dallas Gerber, 2020