Secretary of State Mike Pompeo linked Russia with the great cybernetic assault suffered by the most important agencies of the U.S. government on Dec. 13.
“This was a very significant effort, and I think it’s the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity,” Pompeo said in an interview published on the State Department’s website on Dec. 18.
It seems that the foreign attack was not only to enter and take data from federal agencies, but that it was a major operation, executed over months, which altered the systems by inserting foreign elements into them.
“But suffice it to say there was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of U.S. government systems,” Pompeo explained further.
He added, “I can’t say much more as we’re still unpacking precisely what it is, and I’m sure some of it will remain classified.”
Senior Director for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council John Ullyot commented on the hacking, which primarily impacted data from the U.S. Treasury Department and other state entities, bringing White House agencies together for an emergency meeting.
“The U.S. government is aware of these reports and we are taking all necessary steps to identify and remedy any possible problems related to this situation,” Ullyot said.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) has asked all civilian federal agencies to check their networks for indicators of compromise and to immediately disconnect or shut down SolarWinds Orion products.
“The compromise of SolarWinds Orion network management products poses unacceptable risks to the security of federal networks,” said CISA acting Director Brandon Wales.
Microsoft identified more than 40 government agencies, think tanks, nongovernmental organizations, and IT companies infiltrated by hackers, according to Fox News on Dec. 19.
It added that 80% of the organizations invaded were in the United States, almost half of them technology companies.
Other attacks occurred in Canada, Mexico, Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates.
This hacking is particularly sensitive now when the electoral process in the United States is seriously threatened.
According to investigations by lawyers working to restore electoral transparency, seriously affected by a large amount of fraud, foreign powers such as the Chinese Communist Party, Russia, and Iran could be involved.