The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Agency (CISA) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) along with support from the National Security Agency (NSA) have joined hands to form the Cyber Unified Coordination Group (UCG), to investigate the cyberattacks against the federal government agencies.
The UCG would investigate the attacks and the basis of their investigation would recommend remedial measures for the same.
As we had reported earlier, it is believed that the Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) actor is mostly of Russian origin. At this point in time, the activity purely remains as an intelligence collection activity.
SolarWinds had earlier reported that atleast 18,000 companies may have fallen victim to the attack on its Orion products. However, the UCG believes that only a small fraction of these companies have been compromised by any follow-on activity on their systems. Till date fewer than ten government agencies fall in the latter category.
The FBI’s investigation is primarily directed at identifying the victims, collecting evidence, analyzing the evidence to determine further attribution, and sharing results with all concerned.
Whereas the CISA is more focused and directed towards rapidly sharing the information with the government and other private partners. CISA had earlier developed a free tool to detect unusual and malicious activity related to this attack.
The CISA had also issued a directive to the affected government agencies, asking them to update, with immediate effect, to the latest version of SolarWinds Orion products or halt working on them until the update is done.
ODNI’s role is to ensure the UCG has the access to the latest news and developments by coordinating with Intelligence Community. ODNI also provides situational awareness to key stakeholders and address knowledge and intelligence gaps.
The NSA is supporting the UCG by providing intelligence, cybersecurity expertise, and actionable guidance to the UCG partners, as well as National Security Systems, Department of Defense, and Defense Industrial Base system owners.
NSA’s engagement with both the UCG and industry partners is focused on assessing the scale and scope of the incident, as well as providing technical mitigation measures. The UCG has been working hard, including through the festive period, to identify and remediate the doings of the attackers.