Many recent news reports have come out regarding a massive hack of the Solarwinds Orion IT asset management system. This compromise is unprecedented in scale and reach, and the fallout from it will reverberate throughout the IT industry for years.
Solarwinds Orion is one of many IT asset management systems (New River Computing uses one called Connectwise Automate). This software is great for managing a large number of IT systems, with the ability to provide security updates, monitoring, and many other functions from a single console, with the click of a mouse. These abilities make it an ideal target for a malicious actor – By owning a software system such as this, the bad actor in turn owns every company or agency that uses the software.
Solarwinds Orion was hacked from the inside, most likely because of poor security practices at the Solarwinds company. Once the hackers had the ability to change the Orion software, they added backdoor code to it that was then distributed to Orion customers, allowing the bad actors access to every network that uses this management tool.
Starting in March, as many as 18,000 companies and government agencies downloaded the malicious software – 425 of the Fortune 500 companies, 10 top US telecoms, the Pentagon, Departments of State and Treasury, and many others. This malicious backdoor software remained undetected for months, allowing the bad actors access to the infected network resources, data, and almost anything on a network that you can imagine. The backdoor code is so stealthy that many organizations may not ever know that they were compromised.
The attack was almost certainly perpetrated by a government – Russia, China, and the US all have the capabilities to achieve an attack like this, as well as many other state actors. This attack will have long lasting impacts, taking years to clean up, and changing IT management behavior.
Luckily, New River Computing did not use any Solarwinds software, and so we and our clients were not affected by this attack. Early in 2020, however, New River Computing looked around and realized that security was the top priority for our internal resources. The IT industry as a whole has spent the last few years improving efficiency of and driving down costs for rigorous asset management. But Security has been lagging behind, as evidenced by this attack. New River Computing will be spending 2021 and beyond improving access to top-notch security tools and techniques.
Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.