SolarWinds falls victim to "highly sophisticated" cyber attack

SolarWinds logo on the side of a building
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Software provider SolarWinds has confirmed that it had been targeted by a cyber attack which has seen hackers infect the networks of multiple US companies and government networks.

The company announced that its systems had fallen victim to “a highly sophisticated, manual supply chain attack” which “was likely conducted by an outside nation state and intended to be a narrow, extremely targeted, and manually executed attack, as opposed to a broad, system-wide attack”.

SolarWinds advised users to upgrade to the latest version of its Orion Platform, version 2020.2.1 HF 1, which is available to download from the SolarWinds Customer Portal.

“We are working to investigate the impacts of this incident and will continue to update you as we are made aware of any interruptions or impact to your business specifically,” the company said in a statement.

On Sunday, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned that the attack “poses an unacceptable risk to [the] Federal Civilian Executive Branch” and asked employees of the governmental departments to “immediately disconnect or power down” the affected SolarWinds Orion products.


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According to the federal agency, unidentified malicious actors managed to exploit SolarWinds’ Orion products, affecting the 2019.4 through 2020.2.1 HF1 versions.

Although the attack is believed to have been orchestrated by the Russian government, the Embassy of Russia in the USA strongly denied its involvement.

In a Facebook post, it stated that “malicious activities in the information space contradicts the principles of the Russian foreign policy, national interests and our understanding of interstate relations”.

“Russia does not conduct offensive operations in the cyber domain,” it added.

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News of the attack comes just days after US cyber security firm FireEye confirmed that it had fallen victim to a hack that is believed to be the work of Russian actors.

The company, which is often used by governments to fend off state-sponsored attacks, said that a "highly sophisticated state-sponsored adversary" had breached its systems and made off with advanced penetration tools. FireEye has since confirmed that the SolarWinds supply chain attack is how hackers gained access to its network.

"We have identified a global campaign that introduces a compromise into the networks of public and private organisations through the software supply chain," FireEye said in a blog post on Sunday.

"This compromise is delivered through updates to a widely-used IT infrastructure management software—the Orion network monitoring product from SolarWinds. The campaign demonstrates top-tier operational tradecraft and resourcing consistent with state-sponsored threat actors."

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.