On Sunday, the Trump administration confirmed that a group of hackers working at the behest of a foreign government had infiltrated several key government networks. While the government involved hasn’t been confirmed officially as of this point, many analysts have pointed to a Russian government agency as the most likely culprit. This data breach has affected huge, important federal agencies, such as the Departments of Commerce and Treasury, and we likely do not know the full scope of the potential damage yet. However, for corporations, healthcare institutions, smaller government agencies, and other organizations, this hack should provide a moment of pause to evaluate your current data security policies and make changes or enlist outside help from a team of professionals such as those at ITMG.
One of the Most Sophisticated Hacking Attacks on the Federal Government Ever
Much of the attention surrounding potential Russian hacking in the media for years has been focused on the potential role that Russian agents played in influencing the 2016 (and later, 2020) elections. But it wasn’t until very recently that this breach was discovered, and it seems to have been going on for a long time. On Sunday, the Department of Homeland Security issued an order to all agencies to cease using a network management program made by a company called SolarWinds by noon the following Monday, highlighting the magnitude of this exploit. The Commerce Department would not comment on the severity of the hack on their agencies, but media reports indicate that it was likely the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. It became apparent that the hackers have likely had access for several months and their motives, as well as the foreign agent they worked for, remain subject to speculation for the time being.
What Should You Take Away from This Incident?
The first thing to take away from this data breach is the importance of an insider risk management program in keeping your data secure. One hole in the plan, or one scenario not thought out completely, can make all the difference between security and a breach. It’s critical to work with experts in the field to look at your program from a holistic perspective to shore up your defenses.
Another thing to take away: insider threats are constantly evolving and your risk management program needs to evolve dynamically with it. In the past, phishing and other social engineering attacks were considered the biggest threats to data security that a company might face. They’re still threats, to be sure, but the recent government hacking incident seems to have utilized an exploit within a piece of software and inserted counterfeit tokens (electronic indicators that serve as identity authenticators to large providers such as Microsoft and Google) that was incredibly difficult to detect. Your program will constantly need to be evaluated and new strategies for shoring up your data security will need to be considered at regular intervals in order to put your organization in the best possible position.
Learn More Advanced Tips and Strategies to Manage Insider Risk at ITMG’s Advanced Solutions Seminar
ITMG’s upcoming Advanced Solutions Seminar is designed to teach cybersecurity professionals how to achieve organizational security with our proven model to manage insider risk, the RiskTKO model. Reserve your spot today by visiting our training page here!
Contact ITMG to Assess Your Current Capabilities and Develop Strategies and Protocols Designed to Help Your Company Mitigate Your Insider Risk
ITMG is an industry leader in helping organizations throughout the United States strengthen their insider risk management programs and secure sensitive data and intellectual property. Our team of bona fide experts has the real-world experience necessary to plan out and create holistic security solutions tailored to the special needs and risks in your industry. Contact ITMG today to learn more about how we can help! You can also visit our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages for more updates and insights into the world of insider risk management.