US imposes sanctions on Russia over SolarWinds cyber attacks

The United States imposes sanctions on Russia, which the US believes is behind the SolarWinds attacks. The US also accuses Russia of trying to influence the recent US presidential election.

The planned measures by the United States had been in the air for some time, especially after four American intelligence agencies jointly stated in early January that the SolarWinds hack was the result of Russian hackers. Through an Executive Order, US President Joe Biden is therefore taking measures against the cybercrimes that the Russian government has committed against the United States, as well as against the ‘harmful foreign activities’ that the Russian government has committed to democratic Americans. presidential elections in 2016 and 2020.

Ten Russian diplomats are expelled from the country. Measures have been taken against 16 Russian individuals and 16 entities linked to the Russian government. These companies and individuals are being barred from access to any property they may have on the territory of the United States by the sanctions imposed. US residents and legal entities are no longer allowed to transact with these individuals or entities. In addition, the US government forbids its banks to buy Russian government bonds on the international financial market.

In response to United States sanctions, Russia decided to expel ten American diplomats. Eight US government employees will be put on the sanctions list and the Russian foreign minister is considering measures against US companies in Russia.

The SolarWinds hack came to light in December of last year and is probably the largest hack from 2020. A vulnerability in the Orion network monitor software of the American company SolarWinds allowed hackers to gain access to the systems for months through an attack. from US government agencies including the Departments of Commerce and Finance. Many influential companies from the United States would also be affected. According to sources from The Washington Post, a collective of hackers linked to Russia’s foreign intelligence service was behind the attack.

Security firm FireEye published an investigation into the attacks and was itself hit by a large-scale hack shortly afterwards. The company meanwhile also published a free detection toolkit that can help find traces of SolarWind hackers. SolarWinds released a patch shortly after the vulnerability was announced. Afterwards, the American company released several updates that were supposed to improve security.

Update, 10:20 PM: Added Russia’s sanctions against the United States courtesy of Erik1337.