How A Cybersecurity Firm Uncovered The Massive Computer Hack


David Greene in Los Angeles. And I'm Noel King in Washington, D C. Good morning. How should the U. S government respond to a computer hack that breached both government networks and private companies? Most cyber security experts think Russia is responsible for the Hack and NPR's national security correspondent Craig Marie has been talking to some of them. Good morning, Greg. Good morning. No. Well, perhaps most importantly, is the half over. Absolutely not. It's still ongoing and we're continuing to learn details. We've heard now that the Treasury Department hack occurred in July, and like other government departments, this was just uncovered in recent days. Email of top officials was hacked, though apparently not. The account of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, also no evidence that classified systems were breached. This information has come from Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, who was briefed on the matter and we can expect this kind of information to sort of dribble out in the weeks and months ahead. As government agencies and private companies go through their computer networks. But clearly much of this is going to fall on the Biden administration to make sure the hack inside government computer networks is over that there's clear attribution on who did it and then to decide how to respond. These major breaches have happened before. Does the government have a strategy to deal with them? No, absolutely not. Again. There are no rules or red lines are clear consequences for adversaries who get caught Now, today what we end up seeing is lots of hand wringing and ultimately some sort of limited responses. Right now, With this current hack. We're seeing wrestling over the definition. Some members of Congress called this an act of war. Now, cyber experts and the intelligence community do see it is a big deal but more along the lines of traditional espionage, albeit on a massive scale. I spoke about this with P. W singer cyber expert at the New America think tank. This was not an act of war. This is more cold War style back and forth espionage stealing of secrets. That's why you've seen the reaction from the intelligence community to be a mix of Oh, my God. What just happened? And Gosh, we got a tip the hat to them. What a coup for them. So if there is no clear way to respond, Greg what of the range of options here? Traditional spying might generate public criticism, kicking out suspected spies, perhaps, um, sanctions, But when this has happened, it really hasn't changed the behavior of Russia. Any other adversaries they still seek. Hacking is a low cost high return proposition. Singer says the U. S can and needs to do much more and should create deterrence in two ways gave a boxing analogy, saying US needs to punch back harder and also develop more resiliency to absorb the growing number of cyber blows. Make the parallel to Mike Tyson. You don't hit him because he'll punch you back in the face vs Mohammad Ali rope a dope right through resilience where you don't hit me because it just won't work out for you. What else do we know? So we know that the government and private companies were both hacked. What do we know about the private companies? We haven't heard that much from them. Have we? No, that's right. But we are hearing more of the hackers clearly targeted. Many tech companies in this makes a lot of sense. They hackers Coley want these cutting edge cyber tools that these companies have, so presumably the hackers can use them themselves. And the first organization to detect this hack two weeks ago was fire I, a prominent cyber security firm, Fireeye CEO Kevin Mandia spoke with NPR's all things considered yesterday. And he said, these hackers were extremely sophisticated, and once they got into the system, they carried out an operation that was specifically designed to attack fire. I he realized very early on as they launch their own investigation that this was a level of tradecraft he'd never seen before. And he said the scale of this hack really drives home the need for a strong national cyber policy. It's time this nation comes up with some doctrine on what we expect Nations rules of engagement to be And what will our policy or proportional response beat of folks who violate that doctrine Because Right now. There's absolutely in escalation in cyberspace. It just seems astonishing that we don't yet have the doctrine in the year. 2020. The US, however, does have a lot of cybersecurity might what is preventing us from using it more effectively? No. Well, you're still seeing a lot of things that are in the works. Homeland Security Cyber Agency was just launched in 2018 and focused on the elections this year. And and by all accounts, did I did I did a good job. Right now, There's the military authorization bill on the president's desk waiting to be signed. It has money for additional cyber upgrades, and by all accounts, you're seeing a lot more cooperation between the government and private tech companies. But this country is losing huge sums of money due to the cyber attacks. And a couple years ago, the N S a director Paul Marcus, Sony was at his confirmation hearing. And he was asked if adversaries fear the U. S and cyberspace, he said the answer is absolutely not. MPR's Greg Marie, Thanks so much, Greg. My pleasure. America's hospitals are really

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