The SolarWinds Hack: What Is It & Should You Be Worried?

If you’ve heard about the recent SolarWinds hack – or even if you haven’t until now – and you own a small business or work or study from home, you might be wondering whether you should be worried. The breach affected a wide range of organizations and agencies across all levels of the U.S. government. At this time, at least 18,000 government and private networks might have been compromised by the massive breach. This could allow hackers to penetrate various networks previously thought to be secure.

Below, our tech team is discussing everything you need to know about this massive cyber-attack.

What Is SolarWinds Orion?

SolarWinds, Inc. is a U.S. software company based in Austin, Texas. The business develops and updates software aimed at streamlining IT management for organizations. SolarWinds Orion is an infrastructure monitoring and management platform that simplifies IT administration for hybrid, on-site, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) environments. Essentially, this product provides centralized network monitoring across the entire IT stack. This means that the whole platform and its data can become vulnerable any time the software is breached.

What Happened with the Recent SolarWinds Hack?

According to Fortune, in December 2020, SolarWinds disclosed that hackers (thought to be sponsored by the Russian government) managed to inject malware into Orion updates released between March and June 2020. The breach allowed cybercriminals to peek into customer networks and spy on their emails. Keep in mind that many SolarWinds users are government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Defense (DOD). Therefore, hackers had access to highly classified, confidential client systems for several months. Organizations like Cyber Command and the National Security Agency (NSA) placed early-warning sensors inside networks to detect potential attackers. Still, it appears that those programmed alerts failed or were compromised.

The Verge reported that the U.S. government’s distracted focus on protecting the November 2020 general election might have given hackers easier entry, as some cybersecurity resources were shifted away from the software supply chain. SolarWinds referred to the highly sophisticated attack that targeted manual supply chains as “Sunburst.” A manual supply chain attack is one in which the build system, the core of many software development companies, becomes compromised. When this happens, any software released or updated by the system may contain unwanted code.

As the investigation continues, it seems that the breach against about 250 government agencies and businesses is worse than many originally thought. Hackers were able to impersonate users’ accounts to not only inject malicious code but also to view source code in several repositories. Fortunately, the hacked accounts lacked permissions to allow the attackers to modify any of the code. Additionally, companies like Microsoft found no evidence that the hack allowed access to customer data or production services and was not used to attack others.

Should You Worry About the SolarWinds Hack?

If your business is a government body or you work for a federal agency, it might be worthwhile to make sure nothing within your system has been affected. The same goes for businesses that utilize SolarWinds products for their IT management. Otherwise, there is little you can do regarding this attack outside of monitoring your system and accounts to ensure your personal data has not been exploited.

What Can You Do to Stay Protected from Data Breaches?

Unfortunately, data breaches happen on a near-daily basis. Therefore, it’s crucial to assume that you’re at risk and act accordingly. It’s beneficial to work with a dedicated tech team to ensure you have cybersecurity solutions in place to protect your business data and employees. When you develop a strong IT security strategy supplemented by remote IT management, you can keep a close watch over your network.

To get started, work with your cybersecurity solutions team to develop a checklist for online safety. This list should outline a variety of crucial steps, including:

  • Determining Your Organizational Risks – If you work with federal agencies, the SolarWinds hack shows just how important it is to understand who has access to your data, how it is protected, and if they have the critical infrastructure to keep it safe. You must also know what steps to take to protect your information and anything shared between you and your associates.
  • Designing, Defining, and Implementing Security Measures – Essential security protocols include creating a strong password policy, implementing two-factor authentication, having a patch management strategy, encrypting data, and more.

If you’re interested in ramping up your cybersecurity efforts, NerdsToGo is here to help. Our certified Nerds can assist you in developing a robust strategy to ensure you stay protected from hackers.

To learn more about our cybersecurity and business IT services, contact us today!