Fireeye Founded by Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz Alerted US Government to Massive Cyber Hack
Massive cyberattack that recently targeted US government agencies and private companies, labeled the 'SolarWinds hack', was first discovered by US cybersecurity company FireEye, founded by a well-recognized Pakistani-American cybersecurity expert Ashar Aziz. Karachi-born Ashar served as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Fireeye from 2004 to 2012. Ashar became the first Pakistani-American tech billionaire when the company stock soared after its initial public offering (IPO) in 2013. His net worth was last estimated at $268 million in 2015.
Solar Winds Hack:
Solarwinds is a cybersecurity toolset used by multiple US government agencies to detect and stop cyberattacks. It is alleged by American government agencies that some Russian-sponsored hackers managed to compromise Solarwinds software by adding malware to updates distributed by the company to its customers. It only came to light when the perpetrators attempted to break into the cybersecurity firm FireEye, which first disclosed a breach on December 9. Here's how Fireeye describes it:
"FireEye has uncovered a widespread campaign, that we are tracking as UNC2452. The actors behind this campaign gained access to numerous public and private organizations around the world. They gained access to victims via trojanized updates to SolarWind’s Orion IT monitoring and management software. This campaign may have begun as early as Spring 2020 and is currently ongoing. Post compromise activity following this supply chain compromise has included lateral movement and data theft. The campaign is the work of a highly skilled actor and the operation was conducted with significant operational security".
|Solarwinds Cyrber Hack. Source: Fireeye|
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By Paul R. Kolbe
The United States is, of course, engaged in the same type of operations at an even grander scale. We are active participants in an ambient cyberconflict that rages, largely unseen and unacknowledged, across the digital globe. This is a struggle that we can’t avoid, and there is no need to play the victim. Just as we use cybertools to defend our national interests, others will use cyberweapons against us.
The National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency exist to break into foreign information systems and steal secrets, and they are damn good at it. They, along with the Defense Department, regularly use cybertools to purloin intelligence from servers across the world and to place foreign information systems and industrial infrastructure at risk. Ones and zeros can be more effective weapons than bombs and missiles. The exposure of Stuxnet, the Snowden leaks and the theft of C.I.A. cybertools revealed the sophistication and extent of capabilities attributed to the United States.
The Pentagon’s cyberwar force, known as Cyber Command, overtly acknowledges, through its “defend forward” doctrine, that the government will target foreign entities and information systems to fight cyberattacks. In November 2018, Cyber Command reportedly disrupted the internet access of the computers of Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the organization responsible for the disinformation campaign during the 2016 U.S. midterm elections. In 2019, in response to Russian cyberincursions into the U.S. energy grid, Cyber Command reportedly placed malware tools on Russia systems that could enable the United States to turn out the lights in Moscow should a conflict between the two nations arise.