The US government sees Russian operators behind the Solar Winds hack, trying to interfere in the 2020 election campaign and making bounty offers in Afghanistan. Your reaction to this is astonishing.
When the hackers later wrote the code for entering the Solar Winds maintenance software, they noticed an interesting little detail: the so-called murder switch.
The idea behind this is that if the victim accidentally gets caught in their attack, they can remove the malware again. One of the biggest cyber spying cases of the past year was to make sure that visitors did not suffer permanent damage – at least in theory – by making it possible. “It’s very targeted, very responsible,” said an IT expert at the American newspaper Wired.
“Control the economy”
Such details do not seem to have impressed the US administration in Joe Biden. On Thursday, it imposed a series of sanctions over an attack known as the Solar Winds Hack: the White House expelled ten Russian ambassadors, including five employees of Russian intelligence. Because U.S. officials are adamant: there is a Russian foreign secret service behind the Solar Winds hack.
More than 18,000 computer systems around the world have been infiltrated by vulnerabilities in widely used maintenance software. This includes networks of US officials. The scale of the difficult planned attack was not made public until last December. The newly elected Biden, who has not yet taken office, then announced a response.
This is now unexpectedly difficult: the US government, with 32 names, also wants to add six Russian technology companies to the embargo list. As if that were not enough, the US Treasury Department has since June 14 banned its officials from trading in newly issued Russian government bonds and securities from the Russian Central Bank and the Russian Sovereign Wealth Fund. Rumor of the move alone led the ruble to fall two percent against the US dollar on Thursday morning – even before sanctions were actually announced. The New York Times writes that sanctions “are aimed at imposing the Russian economy.”
Not the first internet barriers
This is because Biden’s reaction is so strong that it is not just a substitute for solar wind: the White House, in its report, lists the findings of the US Secret Service on Russia’s intervention in 2020. US election campaign. There is also a CIA report that Russian intelligence agents provided Taliban credentials to the Afghan Islamic group to kill US troops in Afghanistan.
The report was presented to then-US President Donald Trump last spring. His successor Biden now seems determined to draw a clear line toward Moscow. “There is no doubt that such aggressive behavior will be denied,” a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday. In the past few days, more and more Russian troops have been marching on the eastern border of Ukraine.
This is not the first time a US government has added Russian actors and intelligence officials to its list of cybercriminals. There are already about 300 inputs – most of them from Iran, North Korea and Russia. What is new is that the Russian government is now directly defined as a permit target. The White House has blamed Russia for the Solar Winds attack, saying it “has high confidence in characterization”.