Defense Softwares

The Latest Cyberattack Could Close the Open Internet and End US Digital Dominance – Foreign Policy

Posted by Security Systems

All during 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic swept around the world, another novel virus with devastating long-term effects spread unnoticed worldwide. Sometime in late 2019 or early 2020, at least one group of advanced hackers inserted malware into network software supplied by SolarWinds, a maker of information technology infrastructure software based in Austin, Texas. The decision to target SolarWinds looks strategic given the company’s vast U.S. and global clientele in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Publicly exposed in December 2020, the infectious malware—dubbed Sunburst by the cybersecurity firm FireEye and Solorigate by Microsoft—may turn out to be the most audacious cyberespionage campaign in history. For months, attackers stealthily infiltrated governments and businesses via a Trojan horse-style update to SolarWinds’ Orion cybersecurity management software. Like the coronavirus, Sunburst and another recently discovered piece of malware reveal the downside of global connectivity and the failure of global cooperation to deal with contagion.

What sets the SolarWinds attack apart from previous incidents is its sheer scale. The company has over 300,000 customers worldwide, according to filings made to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Throughout 2020, SolarWinds sent out software updates to roughly 18,000 of them. To date, at least 250 networks have reportedly been affected by the booby-trapped file. Shortly after being downloaded, the virus executes commands that create a backdoor in the network to transfer files, disable services, and reboot machines. Targeted institutions include the U.S. departments of Defense, Homeland Security, State, Energy, and the Treasury; all five branches of
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