The Biggest Hack of All Time?
The more we learned about the Solarwinds breach, first revealed last December by security researchers FireEye who themselves had been breached because of it, the more it seems to deserve the moniker in the title. The incident, in which network monitoring software made by Austin-based Solarwinds was injected with a trojan horse that allowed the attackers, widely believed to be Russian state cyber-soldiers to take over networks and systems of customers was already considered one of the most sophisticated and ingenious cyber operations ever pulled off.
And, just this week, we learned of two new pieces of information that deepened the potential impact of the historic hack. First, Solarwind's new CEO, Sudhakar Ramakrishna (the previous CEO was ousted after fall-out from the attack) told reporters that the hackers had been inside Solarwind's systems as early as January 2019, months earlier than previously known (https://apnews.com/article/hacking-business-technology-government-and-politics-b221968496ed498457ab56aae7970c90). This means these invaders had almost 2 years to perpetrate and perfect their intrusion, spreading the patched software to over 18,000 customers and infiltrating many high profile government agencies and large corporations such as the State Department, The Pentagon, The Treasury Department, Microsoft and Cisco, to name a few. The exact number is still unknown, however, it was also report this week that 37 companies in the military contractor supply chain were infected with the malicious patch (https://www.nextgov.com/cybersecurity/2021/05/37-defense-industrial-base-companies-affected-solarwinds-intrusion/174152/). This shows that the hackers were definitely focused on state and military secrets and pose an unprecedented threat to our national security. Even if it wasn't the Russians (it was), whoever perpetrated this massive hack likely has access to a wealth of military and classified information. More revelations of affected companies and government organizations are sure to come. What is clear is that even just with the revelations thus far, this hacking operations is easily one of the most intricate, elaborate and impactful. Since there are undoubtfully many more victims to yet be uncovered, only time will tell if this one is the biggest one ever, but it certainly could claim those bragging rights with what we know so far.