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Warner says foreign adversaries 'gained more' from Capitol riot than from SolarWinds hack

Warner says foreign adversaries 'gained more' from Capitol riot than from SolarWinds hack
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerBipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief Social media posts, cellphone data aid law enforcement investigations into riots 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate MORE (Va.), the top Democrat and likely incoming chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Thursday that the nation’s adversaries “gained more” from rioters storming the Capitol than from the recently uncovered massive hack of the federal government. 

“If you walked around the floor of the Capitol and you see the destruction that took place in the last 24 hours, and you see the images around the world of what our democracy looks like, we all have got to step up,” Warner said at a virtual event hosted by the Aspen Institute. 

“The bad guys ... gained a lot more long-term out of what happened in the last 24 hours than they are going to gain from this SolarWinds intrusion,” he added. 

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Warner’s comments were made the day after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol complex, forcing an evacuation of both the House and Senate, and leading to four deaths. 

The attack on the Capitol took place as the federal government continues to grapple with the fallout of the discovery of an ongoing hack of IT company SolarWinds, which counts as customers many federal agencies and the majority of U.S. Fortune 500 companies. 

Agencies including the Commerce, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury departments have confirmed over the past month that they were compromised as part of the breach of SolarWinds software, which began in March. 

A coalition of federal intelligence agencies, on behalf of President TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE, confirmed in a joint statement earlier this week that Russian hackers were “likely” behind the attack, with the confirmation coming after both Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoJilani: China 'sending clear message' to Biden officials with sanctions that opposition could lead to 'future pay cut' New Israeli envoy arrives in Washington, turning page on Trump era Biden ousts controversial head of US Agency for Global Media MORE and former Attorney General William BarrBill BarrBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Two-thirds say the election was fair: poll The Hill's Morning Report - An inauguration like no other MORE separately said they believed Russia was responsible. 

Warner slammed the statement Thursday for “watering down” the attribution, and noted that the “number of brand-name players” also hit by the SolarWinds hack that have not come forward “would surprise the hell” out of many.

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“The images that have been conveyed around the world in the last 18 hours in every forum ... is a bigger gold mine and more priceless for Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinOvernight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' MORE than anything Russia has obtained in this intrusion,” Warner said.

The Virginia Democrat, who currently serves as vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is likely to take over the panel after Democrats gained control of the Senate. He said that the committee has been briefed on the hack from agencies including the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. 

Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity group FireEye, which had its security tools stolen in the hack and first called attention to the incident, also spoke at the Aspen Institute event on Thursday. Mandia called for “criminal rules of engagement” in cyberspace in response to both the SolarWinds attack and a huge spike in ransomware and other cyberattacks during the past year.

“We have got to stop tolerating what’s happened over the last 12 months,” Mandia said. “2020, without a doubt, was the worst year for every chief information security officer in my 27 years of doing this.”