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Positive Technologies denies involvement in SolarWinds attack

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Responding to sanctions imposed by the US government, Russia-headquartered cybersecurity company Positive Technologies (PT) has denied any wrongdoing, and dismissed the claims as “groundless accusation”. 

Last week, the US Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on several Russian technology firms, including PT, accusing them of helping Russian state actors to conduct cyberattacks against the West. 

Specifically, the Treasury accused Russian Intelligence Services -  the FSB, GRU and SVR - of having collaborated to execute the now infamous SolarWinds hack.

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“As a company, we deny the groundless accusations made by the US Department of the Treasury….Our global mission is to create products and technologies to improve cybersecurity around the world and to ensure conditions for the most efficient prevention of cyberattacks for the benefit of society, business, and government agencies,” said Positive Technologies in a statement.

Collaborating with FSB

The US government further alleged that the FSB “cultivates and co-opts criminal hackers” with the help of the now-sanctioned companies, including PT.

While PT assures that it is only involved in white-hat ethical security research, in a report based on "previously unreported US intelligence assessments" MIT Technology Review alleges that PT "develops and sells weaponized software exploits to the Russian government." 

While neither the Treasury Department nor MIT report cite any proof, there is plenty of evidence of PT’s ethical hacking initiatives. 

In fact, in the same week the US imposed its sanctions, PT uncovered a vulnerability in the VMware endpoint protection platform, which was responsibly disclosed to the virtualization giant and consequently patched.  

It isn’t immediately clear how the sanctions will impact ongoing security research at PT, with sanctions putting a stop to such collaborations going forward.

PT didn’t immediately respond to TechRadar Pro’s request for clarification on its future work involving US-based companies and software.

Via The Register

Date

19 Apr 2021

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  • SolarWinds hack may have been more damaging than previously thought

    The SolarWinds hackers reportedly got their hands on information about counterintelligence investigations, the US’ policy on sanctioning Russian individuals and its response to COVID-19.

    The campaign was widely publicized when it was eventually outed late last year. The US government pins the attack on Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service, which denies any involvement in the campaign.

    Despite months of investigation, which has identified several targets, including SolarWinds and Microsoft, there has been virtually no revelations about the intentions of the attackers. 

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    However, anonymous sources have now told Reuters that the attackers were hoping to gather intelligence on the US government’s decision-making policy.

    Intelligence loss

    Microsoft recently revealed Russia as a leading proponent for conducting cyber crimes using state-sponsored actors. 

    In their annual Digital Defense Report, Microsoft shared that the SolarWinds attackers were digging for government material on sanctions and other Russia-related policies, along with information about the methods the country employs to catch Russian hackers.

    Anonymous sources involved in the US government’s investigation into the matter revealed that they could see the terms that the attackers used as they combed through the US government files, and one of the keywords searched was “sanctions.”

    Speaking to Reuters, Chris Krebs, former head of US’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and now an adviser to various companies including SolarWinds, said the combined descriptions of the attackers’ goals sounds logical. 

    During the SolarWinds campaign the attackers managed to breach about nine federal agencies, read emails of various government departments, made away with confidential source code from Microsoft, and other companies, and more.

    Despite all this, one of the people involved in the investigation went as far as to tell Reuters that the exposure of counter-intelligence matters being pursued against Russia, was the worst of the losses.

    Via Reuters

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