Government officials are working to find the extent of the SolarWinds hack of federal networks, but a previous cyber breach of a cryptocurrency company shows how far and wide the damage can spread.
A breach of cryptocurrency wallet provider Ledger’s network over the summer was thought to have exposed information on fewer than 10,000 customers. Then hundreds of thousands of physical addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of the company’s users were published online.
“After we were made aware of the dump of December 20, it became clear that a larger subset than the initial 9,500 customers had their personal data exposed,” Ledger said on its website. The company then said it sent an email to its customers in that subset, around 272,000 people.
Alongside the more than 270,000 instances of customers’ data compromised by hackers, about 1 million of its customers’ email addresses were also exposed.
Ledger executives said the company fixed the breach on the same day it was discovered. The company hired a new chief information security officer and said a third-party consultancy’s forensic analysis led them to believe that 9,500 customers were affected instead of the much larger number.
The cyber breach happened because the cyberattacker gained access to Ledger’s e-commerce and marketing database through a third party.
While the nature of the SolarWinds hack is different, the use of a third party to invade a larger target is a common vulnerability that hackers exploited in both instances.
In the days since the SolarWinds hack was made public and panicked 18,000 of the software company’s consumers, security researchers have discovered other efforts to infiltrate SolarWinds consumers’ networks as a way to hack into larger targets.
Cybersecurity experts, such as Microsoft software engineer Nick Carr, said they think the other hacking efforts probably were not conducted by the same hackers who pierced the federal government’s defenses.
A complete list of federal government agencies and private entities hacked through SolarWinds software has not been made public.
Among the federal agencies thought to be affected are the Treasury Department, Commerce Department, State Department, Department of Homeland Security, National Institutes of Health, and components of the Pentagon, according to a letter from Senate Finance Committee’s leaders to the IRS.
The exact identity of the hackers is not known but Russia is a top suspect, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Attorney General William Barr on Monday told reporters he agreed with Mr. Pompeo’s conclusion that Russia was likely behind the hack. Mr. Barr did not elaborate.
President Trump tweeted Saturday that the hack may have been conducted by China. He also said he had everything under control.
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