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12/17/2020
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FireEye and Microsoft say they have a partial solution in the SolarWinds hack. ODNI goes on the record. And DOD might have some advantages in reacting to the incident. This is CyberScoop for Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020.

SolarWinds 'killswitch' activated

There’s hope yet in the fight against the devastating SolarWinds backdoor, as FireEye and Microsoft have turned to a valuable defensive tool in a time of need. The tech firms found a “killswitch” — a seized internet domain — that can be used to smother new deployments of malware. Perhaps the most famous killswitch of all time was the one Marcus Hutchins found to thwart WannaCry. It's TBD on how big of an impact this particular emergency brake can have on the SolarWinds debacle. Sean Lyngaas explains why it matters.


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ODNI confirms 'whole-of-government' response

As CyberScoop's Shannon Vavra reported Wednesday morning, the White House has formed a Cyber Unified Coordination Group (UCG) on the SolarWinds Orion hack. A news release Wednesday night by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed the existence of the UCG, saying it will coordinate "a whole-of-government response to this significant cyber incident." ODNI did not mention the company, the identity of the alleged attackers or any specifics about which federal agencies have been affected. Read the ODNI statement.


How bad are things at DOD? Maybe not so bad.

The Department of Defense stands a better chance than its civilian partners in recovering from the brazen SolarWinds breach, former officials say. Public records show the Pentagon as a customer, and a security researcher told FedScoop that team members of his have “personally used" the company's Orion product within DOD networks. At least one big part of the DOD's IT — the network known as the DODIN — has not been compromised, according to the vice admiral in charge. Former officials expressed confidence in the military’s ability to mitigate widespread exposure, in part because of the DOD's culture of responding in a unified way to threats. FedScoop's Jackson Barnett has more.


Bossert: Magnitude of incident is 'hard to overstate'

"The US public is sick, our leaders distracted, and we are under cyberattack. This isn’t about SolarWinds anymore. It hasn’t been for months. The Russians are in our networks at a very fragile time. What are we going to do about it?" Former White House homeland security adviser Thomas Bossert tweeted those comments last night in promoting an op-ed he wrote for the New York Times. In the piece he says the impact of the SolarWinds incident is "hard to overstate" and adds that the "logical conclusion is that we must act as if the Russian government has control of all the networks it has penetrated." Read the op-ed.


Krebs defends CISA, election officials again

Despite no longer being a government official, former CISA Director Chris Krebs is still in-demand as a congressional witness, at least for Democrats. Krebs appeared Wednesday before the Senate Homeland Security Committee and reiterated many of the points that led to his firing by President Donald Trump. The former CISA chief said it's “pretty straightforward” to debunk the claims that equipment manufactured by certain vendors switched people’s votes. “We’re past the point where we need to be having conversations about the outcome of this election,” Krebs said. “I think continued assaults on democracy, and the outcome of this election, is ultimately corrosive to the institutions that support elections.” Benjamin Freed has more at StateScoop.


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