Russia Hacks the US Government

The Story:

In recent days, the magnitude and successes of an attack on computer networks used by several departments of the US government have become public knowledge. The Departments of Homeland Security, State, Defense, Commerce, Treasury, and Energy have all acknowledged that their computers have been penetrated by malicious software designed to give outsiders access to their information, emails, etc.

Background:

The Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said Friday that Russia was “pretty clearly” behind the hacking. It is widely believed that the Russian government would have farmed out the work to members of the “Cozy Bear” hacker group.

This hack, and subsequent intelligence gathering, appears to have been underway for months. Cozy Bear planted remote access tool malware in Orion, which is a network monitoring system belonging to US firm SolarWinds. The malware then became capable of infiltrating a wide range of Orion’s customers.

The Thing to Know:

As of this writing, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, has had little to say about the situation, and nothing of substance. The hacking itself and his indifference, together remind some of something he tweeted a week before he was inaugurated in January 2017, “Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” he said. That is perhaps not the case if “good” means “submissive.”

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