Everything You Need to Know About the SolarWinds Hack

April 23, 2021

In December 2020, one of the biggest cyber-hacks in history occurred. It significantly impacted government departments and agencies across the nation, and officials are still struggling to mitigate the damages.

Here's why the SolarWinds Hack was a threat to businesses across America and how you can learn from it.

What Was the SolarWinds Hack?

The hack occurred because Solar Winds, a major technology firm, accidentally sent a software update with malicious code to hundreds of systems, including government agencies in the USA and other countries. The US Energy Department—which oversees America’s nuclear power—was one of the many victims.

The cybercriminals hacked SolarWinds and inserted a back door into the company’s systems so they could gain continued access to data and information. The code was subsequently spread each time SolarWinds sent out system updates. The hack remained undetected for over a year and was only discovered a few months ago.

How Did it Happen?

The cyber intrusion was a sophisticated operation. In this case, more malware was installed every time the system was updated, which enabled hackers to spy on not only Solar Wind’s information but also their many clients.

Because SolarWinds is a software company that provides network management systems for organizations, this hack raises questions about network security. Though basic network protection seemed robust only a year ago, many companies now worry that they don’t have sufficient protection against the world’s current cybersecurity threats.

Who Did It?

It is widely believed that a foreign state was responsible since government agencies seem to have been the main target. Several US officials believe it came from Russia. The inquiry into the SolarWinds hack is ongoing, and Russia has denied any involvement.

Who Was Affected?

The system that was infiltrated is SolarWinds's Orion. The network system is used by 33,000 organizations across the USA and beyond. It affected IT systems in private businesses as well as government departments. The Department of Homeland Security and FireEye are among those affected.

Investigators have found that up to 18,000 customers unwittingly uploaded malware because of the breach. Although the most notable victims from the Solar Winds Hack were government agencies, around 80 percent of the customers affected were private companies. The hack was so extensive that some companies may never realize they were hacked.

How Does it Affect Me?

The SolarWinds Hack is a wake-up call for companies everywhere. In particular, it illustrates that businesses both big and small need sophisticated cybersecurity measures.

Even if you aren’t among the companies that were breached, you can use this event as an opportunity to reexamine your cybersecurity policies and IT network security.

After all, if you’re a business owner, you’re likely responsible for confidential client information, which is no small burden. Your reliance on vulnerable network systems could mean future PR nightmares, a damaged reputation, and thousands of dollars in data recovery costs.

How Will The Solar Winds Hack Affect Cybersecurity in the Future?

The hack has exposed significant weaknesses in the way government agencies outsource to private companies like Solar Winds. You can expect to see the US government enact more stringent cybersecurity policies in the near future, especially for those who store government data.

Many private companies will likely rely more heavily on high-quality cybersecurity providers to protect them from advanced threats. In fact, as an IT provider in Boston, Option One Technologies has already witnessed a spike in demand for IT security.

We’re specialists in cybersecurity, and with over 25 years of experience in the industry, we know the best tips and tricks to keep data protected. Give us a call today to learn how we can help you create a reliable cybersecurity plan.

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