President Trump’s reluctance to name and shame Russia for the SolarWinds cyberattack will hamper companies and government agencies as they begin the long and daunting job of assessing and repairing the hack’s damage.
Why it matters: Experts say Russia’s fingerprints are all over the attack, but the president’s dissent will hobble any U.S. response – at least until Jan. 20.
Catch up quick: Security officials and experts share a broad consensus that the “Cozy Bear” group, also known as APT29, overseen by Russia’s SVR intelligence service, was responsible for the hack.
- The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) described the attackers as “a patient, well-resourced, and focused adversary that has sustained long duration activity on victim networks.”
White House officials had readied a statement Friday calling Russia “the main actor” in the attack, but were ordered not to release it, the Associated Press reports.
- Around the same time, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview that Russia is “pretty clearly” behind the attack, which hit the State Department, among many other agencies and businesses.
- Saturday, Trump tweeted that the extent of the attack was being overplayed by the media and that others could be responsible for the attack, perhaps China.
Between the lines: Some security experts fear the president’s position will transform what should be a unified government response to a hostile act by a foreign power into yet another personal loyalty test.
- Last month Trump fired CISA director Christopher Krebs after Krebs affirmed that the 2020 election had been secure.
- Anything involving “Russia, Russia, Russia” (as Trump put it in his tweet) has been a sore point for the president since Russia’s hacks during the 2016 election became the foundation for years of investigations into his administration’s relationship with Moscow.
Yes, but: Leaders from both parties, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), have called for holding Russia accountable and launching a significant response.