Responding to high level government officials in the US, Russia was quick to dismiss claims that they were responsible for a cyber attack which affected a minimum of six federal agencies.

According to CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency), updates for software provided by Solarwind Orion IT had been trojanized. This software is used for the monitoring and management of federal IT networks. Upon learning of the attack, CISA immediately launched an emergency directive to all federal agencies using the software.

As part of the directive, federal agencies were told to audit and review all networks and to stop using any products provided by Solarwind Orion IT. The Austin-based company supplies a number of products to numerous federal agencies and first announced the attack on the 20th of December. The company claimed the attack was highly sophisticated and could give the attackers access to any server their software was installed on.

Solarwinds would not directly comment on who they thought were responsible for the attack but did claim they were told by senior officials that another nation was possibly behind it. The US government was initially just as coy regarding their suspicions but it was quickly rumored that a few involved in the ongoing investigation believe Russia were the culprits.

This was confirmed when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially claimed that Russia had orchestrated the attack. The accusation was quickly rebuked by the Kremlin who via spokesperson Dmitriy Peskov, denied the attacks and labelled the accusations as baseless. 

What are Cyber Attacks?

A cyber attack is a sophisticated assault masterminded by cybercriminals. They use anything from one to several computers to deliver an attack on other computers and networks. These attacks could be designed to damage computers, networks, and hardware, or steal valuable data.

There are numerous methods that cybercriminals have been known to use when committing a cyber attack. The most commonly used methods are DOS (denial of service) attacks, malware, and ransomware.

Can Cyber Attacks be Prevented?

With the right security architecture in place, cyber attacks can be prevented. However, studies have shown that as many as 90% enterprises are not protecting themselves as much as they should be. In the aftermath of this latest cyber attack, calls have been made to increase awareness and encourage enterprises of all sizes to review their networks and make the necessary improvements to security.

There are numerous types of security software that have been designed to protect computers and networks from these kinds of attacks. Industry experts such as InternetPrivatsphare are the best resource to learning more about this kind of software. VPNs, in particular, are commonly used thanks to the high level of encryption they provide and the anonymity the user can enjoy when online.