Instead, they got inside by sneaking malicious code into a software update pushed out to thousands of government agencies and private companies. It wasn't surprising that hackers were able to exploit vulnerabilities in what's known as the supply chain to launch a massive intelligence gathering operation. In general terms, a supply chain refers to the network of people and companies involved in the development of a particular product, not dissimilar to a home construction project that relies on a contractor and a web of subcontractors.
The sheer number of steps in that process, from design to manufacture to distribution, and the different entities involved give a hacker looking to infiltrate businesses, agencies and infrastructure numerous points of entry.
This can mean no single company or executive bears sole responsibility for protecting an entire industry supply chain.
Russian hack of US agencies exposed supply chain weaknesses
And even if most vendors in the chain are secure, a single point of vulnerability can be all that foreign government hackers need. In practical terms, homeowners who construct a fortress-like mansion can nonetheless find themselves victimized by an alarm system that was compromised before it was installed. The most recent case targeting federal agencies involved Russian government hackers who are believed to have sneaked malicious code into popular software that monitors computer networks of businesses and governments.
That product is made by a Texas-based company called SolarWinds that has thousands of customers in the federal government and private sector.
As Understanding of Russian Hacking Grows, So Does Alarm
That malware gave hackers remote access to the networks of multiple agencies. Among those known to have been affected are the departments of Commerce, Treasury and Justice. Though President Donald Trump showed little personal interest in cybersecurity, even firing the head of the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency just weeks before the Russian hack was revealed, President Joe Biden has said he will make it a priority and will impose costs on adversaries who carry out attacks.
Supply chain protection will presumably be a key part of those efforts, and there is clearly work to be done. But the government has tried to take steps, including through executive orders and rules. A provision of the National Defense Authorization Act barred federal agencies from contracting with companies that use goods or services from five Chinese companies, including Huawei.
The government's formal counterintelligence strategy made reducing threats to the supply chain one of five core pillars. Perhaps the best-known supply chain intrusion before SolarWinds is the NotPetya attack in which malicious code found to have been planted by Russian military hackers was unleashed through an automatic update of Ukrainian tax-preparation software, called MeDoc.
Inthe department announced a similar case against two Chinese hackers accused of breaking into cloud service providers and injecting malicious software. Jim Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat and member of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a bipartisan group that issued a white paper calling for the protection of the supply chain through better intelligence and information sharing.
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You're paying too much for wine, unless you've gotten this deal.Eight weeks later, General Nakasone and other American officials responsible for cybersecurity are now consumed by what they missed for at least nine months: a hackingnow believed to have affected upward of federal agencies and businesses, that Russia aimed not at the election system but at the rest of the United States government and many large American corporations. The breach is far broader than first believed. Initial estimates were that Russia sent its probes only into a few dozen of the 18, government and private networks they gained access to when they inserted code into network management software made by a Texas company named SolarWinds.
But as businesses like Amazon and Microsoft that provide cloud services dig deeper for evidence, it now appears Russia exploited multiple layers of the supply chain to gain access to as many as networks. The hackers managed their intrusion from servers inside the United States, exploiting legal prohibitions on the National Security Agency from engaging in domestic surveillance and eluding cyberdefenses deployed by the Department of Homeland Security.
There is also no indication yet that any human intelligence alerted the United States to the hacking. In the private sector, too, companies that were focused on election security, like FireEye and Microsoft, are now revealing that they were breached as part of the larger supply chain attack.
SolarWinds, the company that the hackers used as a conduit for their attacks, had a history of lackluster security for its products, making it an easy target, according to current and former employees and government investigators. Its chief executive, Kevin B. Thompson, who is leaving his job after 11 years, has sidestepped the question of whether his company should have detected the intrusion. Some of the compromised SolarWinds software was engineered in Eastern Europe, and American investigators are now examining whether the incursion originated there, where Russian intelligence operatives are deeply rooted.
The intentions behind the attack remain shrouded. Biden Jr. Their goal may be to put themselves in a position to have leverage over the new administration, like holding a gun to our head to deter us from acting to counter Putin. The U. The Defense Department insists the attacks on its systems were unsuccessful, though it has offered no evidence. But the hacking also breached large numbers of corporations, many of which have yet to step forward.
SolarWinds is believed to be one of several supply chain vendors Russia used in the hacking. Microsoft, which had tallied 40 victims as of Dec. But privately, officials say they still do not have a clear picture of what might have been stolen. They said they worried about delicate but unclassified data the hackers might have taken from victims like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, including Black Start, the detailed technical blueprints for how the United States plans to restore power in the event of a cataclysmic blackout.
The plans would give Russia a hit list of systems to target to keep power from being restored in an attack like the one it pulled off in Ukraine inshutting off power for six hours in the dead of winter.
Moscow long ago implanted malware in the American electric grid, and the United States has done the same to Russia as a deterrent. One main focus of the investigation so far has been SolarWinds, the company based in Austin whose software updates the hackers compromised. But the cybersecurity arm of the Department of Homeland Security concluded the hackers worked through other channelstoo. And last week, CrowdStrike, another security company, revealed that it was also targetedunsuccessfully, by the same hackers, but through a company that resells Microsoft software.
Intelligence officials have expressed anger that Microsoft did not detect the attack earlier; the company, which said Thursday that the hackers viewed its source codehas not disclosed which of its products were affected or for how long hackers were inside its network.
Employees say that under Mr. Thompson, an accountant by training and a former chief financial officer, every part of the business was examined for cost savings and common security practices were eschewed because of their expense. But some of those measures may have put the company and its customers at greater risk for attack. The company has said only that the manipulation of its software was the work of human hackers rather than of a computer program.
It has not publicly addressed the possibility of an insider being involved in the breach. None of the SolarWinds customers contacted by The New York Times in recent weeks were aware they were reliant on software that was maintained in Eastern Europe. Many said they did not even know they were using SolarWinds software until recently.In response to what may be a large-scale penetration of U. The threat apparently came from the same cyberespionage campaign that has afflicted FireEye, foreign governments and major corporations, and the FBI was investigating.
Many experts suspect Russia is responsible. The apparent conduit for the Treasury and Commerce Department hacks — and the FireEye compromise — is a hugely popular piece of server software called SolarWinds. It is used by hundreds of thousands of organizations globally, including most Fortune companies and multiple U. The DHS directive — only the fifth since they were created in — said U.Pybind11 call python from c++
Neither the company nor U. On its website, SolarWinds says itscustomers worldwide including all five branches of the U. It says the 10 leading U. FireEye said it had confirmed infections in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, including in the health care and oil and gas industry — and had been informing affected customers around the world in the past few days.
Cybersecurity experts said last week that they considered Russian state hackers to be the main suspect in the FireEye hack. Federal government agencies have long been attractive targets for foreign hackers. Treasury deferred comment to the National Security Council.
Former NSA hacker Jake Williams, the president of the cybersecurity firm Rendition Infosec, said FireEye surely told the FBI and other federal partners how it had been hacked and they determined that Treasury had been similarly compromised. FireEye responded to the Sony and Equifax data breaches and helped Saudi Arabia thwart an oil industry cyberattack — and has played a key role in identifying Russia as the protagonist in numerous aggressions in the burgeoning netherworld of global digital conflict.
US agencies hacked in monthslong global cyberspying campaign. Hackers got into computers at the U. Treasury Department and possibly other federal agencies, touching off a government response involving the National Security Council. Connect with the definitive source for global and local news. The Associated Press.
All rights reserved.Amazon AMZN - Get Report has become the colossus of the retail world, as the company has grown from 40 million Amazon Prime members in to 80 million members in In fact, the total value of Amazon stock is greater than all but 16 countries. With all that cash on the table, it's no surprise that scammers, fraudsters and identity thieves have gravitated to Amazon's burgeoning orbit. From phishing-based email scams to Amazon seller fraud, there's no shortage of ways to lose money when immersed in the Amazon experience.
7 Amazon Scams and How to Protect Yourself
The good news is there are ways to defend yourself against Amazon fraud, in all of its variations. All it takes is some knowledge of what you're up against, a few strong fraud detections and prevention tips, and the discipline to keep fraudsters well away from you and your family. That said, one universal theme about Amazon scams is that fraud artists are using the digital retail platform in creative ways to separate you from your money.
But it's not the only way. Gift card scams, Amazon job offer fraud, and email hacking scams are also high on the list of ways you can lose money from Amazon fraud - among other digital threats. Let's examine the most common - and threatening - ways Amazon fraud can strike and provide some tips to keep Amazon fraudsters at bay.
Amazon continues to deal with a nefarious scheme - gift card scams. Here, fraudsters reach out to Amazon consumers via email, phone or social media and offer deeply discounted deals on not only Amazon gift cards, but gift cards from third-party providers like banks and credit card providers. Often, the message comes with a call for urgency, i. Don't fall for it. Amazon gift cards can only be used on Amazon, and never can be used as a legitimate payment to other businesses and individuals.
Additionally, never provide the claim code on an Amazon gift card to someone you don't know - they'll use it to steal the gift card long before you can get law enforcement involved. In this scam, fraudsters claiming to be an Amazon seller, once again approach potential victims offering deeply discounted goods and services.
The catch is that to make the purchase, the seller is only accepting Amazon gift cards as payment. When you make payment for the purchase, the goods never arrive, and you can't reach the seller to ask for your money back. To avoid this scam: Any Amazon purchase engagement can only be made on the actual Amazon platform, either via the website or mobile app. Since no legitimate Amazon purchase can occur off of the Amazon platform, delete emails and hang up the phone if contacted by a fake Amazon seller.
Amazon pays its employees well and works them hardso landing a job for a person who places a premium on salary is a pretty big deal. Amazon job scammers leverage the demand for Amazon jobs by posting false employment advertisements or phoning potential job applicants with offers to work for Amazon.
The catch on this scam?By Christopher Bing. Treasury and Commerce departments, according to people familiar with the matter, adding they feared the hacks uncovered so far may be the tip of the iceberg.
The hack is so serious it led to a National Security Council meeting at the White House on Saturday, said one of the people familiar with the matter.
The U. Two of the people said that the breaches are connected to a broad campaign that also involved the recently disclosed hack on FireEye, a major U. In a statement posted here to Facebook, the Russian foreign ministry described the allegations as another unfounded attempt by the U.
The cyber spies are believed to have gotten in by surreptitiously tampering with updates released by IT company SolarWinds, which serves government customers across the executive branch, the military, and the intelligence services, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Related Coverage. The breach presents a major challenge to the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden as officials investigate what information was stolen and try to ascertain what it will be used for. It is not uncommon for large scale cyber investigations to take months or years to complete. Staff emails at the agency were monitored by the hackers for months, sources said.
A Microsoft spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did a spokesman for the Treasury Department. The full scope of the breach is unclear. The investigation is still its early stages and involves a range of federal agencies, including the FBI, according to three of the people familiar with the matter. CISA is providing technical assistance to affected entities as they work to identify and mitigate any potential compromises.
The FBI and U. National Security Agency did not respond to a request for comment. There is some indication that the email compromise at NTIA dates back to this summer, although it was only recently discovered, according to a senior U. Technology News Updated. By Christopher Bing 5 Min Read. Russia had nothing to do with suspected U.
Russian hackers breach U.S. government, targeting agencies, private companies
Treasury email snooping, says Kremlin.Hackers who targeted the federal government appear to be part of a Russian intelligence campaign aimed at multiple U.
A Commerce Department spokesman confirmed a breach, saying it occurred at an unidentified bureau. Department officials alerted the FBI and a cybersecurity agency within the Department of Homeland Security, the spokesman said, declining to comment further. The White House National Security Council also confirmed that it was looking into another potential intrusion at the Treasury Department after Reuters reported that foreign government-backed hackers accessed internal government emails.
The hackers appear to have gotten access by first breaking into SolarWinds, an Austin-based company that provides remote information technology services to an long list of clients around the world, including a number of U. The U. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a rare emergency directive Sunday night, instructing federal agencies to immediately stop using the version of SolarWinds products.
We are acting in close coordination with FireEye, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the intelligence community, and other law enforcement to investigate these matters.
As such, we are limited as to what we can share at this time. In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, SolarWinds reported that it had informed 33, customers that they may have been affected, and estimated that "fewer than 18," could have potentially been compromised. The company's CEO said last week that it had been hacked "by a nation with top-tier offensive capabilities.
Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics. FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia said the hackers' primary goal appeared to be to steal information from the company's government clients. The Russian Embassy in Washington called news of the breach "groundless attempts by the American media to accuse Russia of hacking attacks on U. It wasn't clear how much information the hackers accessed, although the company said they obtained tools used by FireEye's Red Team, the section tasked with defending against new cyberattacks.
The Post reported that the Commerce Department breach targeted Solar Winds, an information technology system used by tens of thousands of organizations. NBC News hasn't independently confirmed the report. In a statement, the Homeland Security Department's cybersecurity agency said it was investigating "recently discovered activity on government networks. The agency said it was providing technical assistance to help blunt potential compromises. IE 11 is not supported.
For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser. News Opinion Business World Tech. Follow NBC News. Cybersecurity official says Russia behind hack on Treasury, Commerce departments Dec. Ken Dilanian. Josh Lederman. Tim Stelloh. Kevin Collier.Visiting a local metal working shop is also a great way of getting chunks of steel to use as shop weights, either free or for a few bucks.Vestibular balance problems
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