The New York Times has more details.
About 18,000 private and government users downloaded a Russian tainted software update – a Trojan horse of sorts – that gave its hackers a foothold into victims’ systems, according to SolarWinds, the company whose software was compromised.
Among those who use SolarWinds software are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State Department, the Justice Department, parts of the Pentagon and a number of utility companies. While the presence of the software is not by itself evidence that each network was compromised and information was stolen, investigators spent Monday trying to understand the extent of the damage in what could be a significant loss of American data to a foreign attacker.
It’s unlikely that the SVR (a successor to the KGB) penetrated all of those networks. But it is likely that they penetrated many of the important ones. And that they have buried themselves into those networks, giving them persistent access even if this vulnerability is patched. This is a massive intelligence coup for the Russians and failure for the Americans, even if no classified networks were touched.
Meanwhile, CISA has directed everyone to remove SolarWinds from their networks. This is (1) too late to matter, and (2) likely to take many months to complete. Probably the right answer, though.
This is almost too stupid to believe:
In one previously unreported issue, multiple criminals have offered to sell access to SolarWinds’ computers through underground forums, according to two researchers who separately had access to those forums.
One of those offering claimed access over the Exploit forum in 2017 was known as “fxmsp” and is wanted by the FBI “for involvement in several high-profile incidents,” said Mark Arena, chief executive of cybercrime intelligence firm Intel471. Arena informed his company’s clients, which include U.S. law enforcement agencies.
Security researcher Vinoth Kumar told Reuters that, last year, he alerted the company that anyone could access SolarWinds’ update server by using the password “solarwinds123”
“This could have been done by any attacker, easily,” Kumar said.
Neither the password nor the stolen access is considered the most likely source of the current intrusion, researchers said.
That last sentence is important, yes. But the sloppy security practice is likely not an isolated incident, and speaks to the overall lack of security culture at the company.