US Government Agencies Under Attack

Hackers broke into the networks of federal agencies including the Treasury and Commerce departments in attacks revealed only a few days after US officials warned that cyber actors linked to the Russian government were exploiting vulnerabilities to target sensitive data. 

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity arm are investigating what experts say appeared to be a large-scale penetration of US government agencies.

The US has been issued with an emergency warning that nation-state hackers have weaponise software used by almost all Fortune 500 companies and many federal agencies, and a lot of other companies.

US government agencies have been hacked by attackers that used a flaw in up-dated software. The attack was on SolarWinds systems which have been hacked, the company has revealed. These systems are the ones used by government within the Treasury and Commerce Departments that are system monitoring products it released in earlier this year may have been surreptitiously tampered with in a “highly-sophisticated, targeted and manual supply chain attack by a nation state.”

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued an Emergency Directive, in response to SolarWinds Orion products that are currently being hacked by malicious actors. 

This Emergency Directive now calls on all federal civilian agencies to review their cyber networks for any effects of hacks and to disconnect or power down SolarWinds Orion products immediately.  “The compromise of SolarWinds’ Orion Network Management Products poses unacceptable risks to the security of federal networks... Tonight’s directive is intended to mitigate potential compromises within federal civilian networks, and we urge all our partners, in the public and private sectors, to assess their exposure to this compromise and to secure their networks against any exploitation.” a CISA spokesman said.

This is the fifth Emergency Directive issued by CISA under the authorities granted by Congress in the Cybersecurity Act of 2015. All agencies operating SolarWinds products should provide a completion report to CISA by 12pm Eastern Standard Time on Monday December 14, 2020.  

The statement came as the US intelligence community is urgently investigating breaches at several government agencies. 

The breach, which is currently believed to be the work of Russian state-sponsored hackers, is similar to the recent attack on leading cyber security firm FireEye which said it had fallen victim to recent hack. FireEye now says is has found many other victims including government, consulting, technology, telecom and extractive entities in US, EU, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

FireEye disclosed that sophisticated attackers had breached its internal systems and targeted the data of its government customers, though there was no evidence that any government information was stolen, however, the hackers did loot tools that could be used in attacks against other organisations.

FireEye said it believed the hacking campaign “may have begun as early as spring 2020 and is currently ongoing” after hackers managed to insert malware into SolarWinds software updates.

SolarWinds:      CISA:      Reuters:       Bloomberg:       USNews:       ABC7:    

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