Daily Post 1550


Ransomware heralded a completely new phase and scale in Cyber Security landscape of the world in last three/four years. COVID-19 situation of complete digital transformation and hackers also getting stuck to their homes became the golden age of ransomware. This year has seen a marked increase in ransomware attacks. COVID-19 themed attacks provided cover to what level of nefarious attacks, would be difficult to gauge, nevertheless it has increased by 80%. The tendency to pay ransom has been seen amongst even the local self governments in the US. The cost of battling it out the technical way can cost anything between $18 million to $44 million and can take five months to 18 months. While this battle was on, the Cyber War on US, which came to light recently has been unnerving.

Starting with US Presidential Elections of 2016, the GRU / Russia seems to be unending. US seems to have become the soft underbelly of the digital world from social media to Goverment to critical infrastructure. Solar Winds / Orion hacks have been one of its kind in the very nature of the way the vulnerability has been created, operated upon and the devastating nature across the US Govt would put even best for the Sci-fis movies to shame. It will take some time to fathom out the scale of the damage, if it ever happens. Since the time Edward Snowden blew the lid off the National Security Agency in 2013, the current Solar Winds attacks have been the most devastating.

To say US has been hacked, would not be an exaggeration. Around 50 organisations, including important govt departments, such as Treasury, State and Homeland Security have been hacked. The fascinating, intriguing and scary part of this series of hacks coming to light is that for nearly nine months these departments and their cyber guardians were totally unaware of the cyber enemy deeply ensconced inside. This highly sophisticated attack has allowed for large scale data loss from the impacted departments and agencies. This also includes the Agency which manages the nuclear arsenal. Possibly, a foreign govt has managed this through a third party software Orion, a network management tool.

That the tri-forces combined might not able to defend us from Cyber Wars. Banning Chinese Apps can be only a small part of the story. Orion attack spreads the Threat Surface to unimaginable levels. What it means is that software from well-trusted sources can be the medium of implanting Trojans in the target system. Will any adversarial nation be able to foist such an attack on India? We are still to graduate to an all pervasive level of Cyber Security. Private companies and outsourcing cannot be the answer. There is a need to decipher the roadmap now. Tomorrow, it might be too late.


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