UPDATED 4:20 PM PT – Saturday, December 19, 2020
Multiple U.S. officials are speaking out against the cyberattack that targeted American agencies.
On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserted the hacking effort was “pretty clearly” the work of the Kremlin.
“This was a very significant effort,” Pompeo stated. “And I think it’s the case that now we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians that engaged in this activity.”
Pompeo is the first White House official to publicly call out Russia since reports broke about what’s been called the “worst hacking case in the history of America.”
Multiple U.S. companies and government agencies reportedly fell victim to the mass cyberattack, which appeared to target the company SolarWinds. Cybersecurity officials said the hackers attached their malware to the Austin, Texas-based company back in March.
Thousands of U.S. companies and agencies use SolarWinds. According to reports, the hack affected 18,000 customers, including the Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, State, and Treasury.
On Thursday, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned the hack posed a ‘great risk’ to both government agencies and private companies. However, officials maintain little is officially known about the attack.
“We’re still unpacking precisely what it is, and I’m sure some of it will remain classified,” said Pompeo. “There was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of U.S. government systems and private companies and governments around the world.”
While Pompeo noted the best course of action moving forward is to “calmly go about your business and defend freedom,” others are calling for a more aggressive approach.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the U.S. must retaliate, though we must be certain who the perpetrator is before taking action.
Some lawmakers are calling on the Trump administration to take immediate action, such as upping cybersecurity measures included in the National Defense Authorization Act.
In the meantime, the administration established a ‘Cyber Coordination Group’ to respond to the hack.