Close to 200 organizations allegedly hacked by Russia: cybersecurity firm

Close to 200 organizations were hacked by Russia as part of the cybersecurity attack on SolarWinds, a third party software contractor, that has compromised multiple government agencies, Bloomberg News reported.

Massachusetts-based cyber security firm Recorded Future identified 198 organizations that were hacked by a malicious update, threat analyst Allan Liska told the news outlet. 

Three people familiar with the inquiry told Bloomberg the hack further compromised at least 200 victims by attempting to move in their computer networks or gain user credentials.

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About 18,000 SolarWinds customers received the malicious update, according to Bloomberg. Of that number, more than 1,000 experienced a malicious code ping that gave hackers further access to sensitive networks. 

The identities of the victims were not provided to Bloomberg, and the number is expected to grow as the investigation continues.

The firm said in a statement to The Hill that it used open source datasets and information provided by the security researcher community to "identify a likely partial list of organizations affected by the SolarWinds backdoor."
 
It added that "work across the industry remains ongoing" to obtain a fuller picture.  

The statement added that it's not able to determine exactly how many or which organizations were affected. 
However, it said that the number of affected organizations will likely be smaller than those that installed the malicious software.
 
A SolarWinds spokesperson told The Hill that it "continues collaborating closely with our customers, security professionals, law enforcement and intelligence communities across the globe to determine the responsible parties for this attack and whether the attack against us and our customers was directed by a foreign government, and to gather all relevant and accurate information to assist the community." 

The analysis comes as America grapples with the fallout of the hack, which some have suggested could have amounted to an act of war. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency said this week that the attack posed a “grave risk” to government and private sector organizations.

Reuters first reported last Sunday that the Treasury Department and an agency in the Commerce Department were compromised as part of the breach into SolarWinds. The Washington Post later reported that Russian military intelligence unit “Cozy Bear” was allegedly behind the attack.

During an interview on “The Mark LevinMark Reed LevinFormer California senator prods Feinstein to consider retirement Elder pledges to replace Feinstein with Republican if he wins California recall election Sunday shows preview: Feds slam social media over COVID-19 misinformation MORE Show” Friday, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoPoll: Biden, Trump statistically tied in favorability Majority of voters disapprove of execution of Afghanistan withdrawal: poll Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant MORE said “we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in the activity.”

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Yet President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE downplayed the hack on Saturday, questioning whether Russia was really behind the cyber attack, saying on Twitter that “everything is well under control.”

“Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!),” Trump tweeted. 

Multiple government agencies were reported to have been compromised over the past week, including the State Department, Department of Defense and agencies within the Department of Energy.

Updated on Dec. 20 at 9:06 a.m.