Microsoft pushes for coordinated response to SolarWinds cyber attack as 40 of its customers fall victim

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As the effects of the nation-state sanctioned SolarWinds cyberattack continue to proliferate throughout the US, businesses, victims, and targets are beginning to seek retribution and among the voices looking for action is non-other than Microsoft.

Microsoft is now pushing for a coordinated response to the cyberattack as it recently identified 40 of its customers around the world who used infected third party IT management programs that were ultimately targets of the SolarWinds hack.

When news originally surfaced about the SolarWinds cyberattack, Microsoft issued a guidance report on ways to mitigate future hacks and attempted to reassure its customers that "we have not identified any Microsoft product or cloud service vulnerabilities," in its initial investigations.

However, according to a response to a Reuters article, Microsoft had been compromised and isolated vulnerabilities within its systems that left it potentially open to software infected by SolarWinds. As for actual breaches into its systems, Microsoft still maintains that there have been none and clarified late Thursday evening that, "Our investigations, which are ongoing, have found absolutely no indications that our systems were used to attack others."

In a post titled A moment of reckoning: the need for a strong and global cybersecurity response, Microsoft President Brad Smith authors a call to arms for the industry in wake of evolving threats.

As much as anything, this attack provides a moment of reckoning. It requires that we look with clear eyes at the growing threats we face and commit to more effective and collaborative leadership by the government and the tech sector in the United States to spearhead a strong and coordinated global cybersecurity response.

Furthermore, Smith outlines more precisely what can and should be done to combat future attacks.

Identify

  • The first is the continuing rise in the determination and sophistication of nation-state attacks.
  • All this is changing because of a second evolving threat, namely the growing privatization of cybersecurity attacks through a new generation of private companies, akin to 21st-century mercenaries.
  • There is a third and final sobering development worth noting from what has obviously been a challenging year. This comes from the intersection between cyberattacks and COVID-19 itself.

Respond

  • First, we need to take a major step forward in the sharing and analysis of threat intelligence.
  • Second, we need to strengthen international rules to put reckless nation-state behavior out of bounds and ensure that domestic laws thwart the rise of the cyberattack ecosystem.
  • Finally, we need stronger steps to hold nation-states accountable for cyberattacks.

Smith's blog post is much lengthier and more nuanced than the highlighted talking points, however, the sentiment and conclusions remain the same, things need to change, and quickly.

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