In 2020, there was a major global cyberattack, spanning across the United States’ federal departments, the UK, the European Parliament, and thousands of other organizations. It was reported to have been triggered by supply chain attacks on three major firms: SolarWinds, Microsoft, and VMware, where attackers were able to access private documents and emails. The attack was dubbed “Solorigate” by Microsoft with President Brad Smith calling it “a moment of reckoning”. Now, the company has shared a final update on its Solorigate investigation.
Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Security, Compliance, and Identity Vasu Jakkal has concluded that while nation-state actors were able to compromise some initial security procedures, they were then stopped by a “unified team of human and digital defenders”. She also clarified that the company has found no proof of customer data or production services being breached. Furthermore, the investigation confirmed that Microsoft software was not used to attack other identities.
Microsoft states that multiple factors aided in limiting the scope of this attack and these should be embraced by other security teams and organizations moving forward as well. These include adopting a Zero Trust security model with multi-factor authentication for credentials, and cloud technologies like Azure Active Directory and Microsoft 365 Defender. Lastly, Jakkal has emphasized that it is paramount that companies and teams work together to strengthen collective defenses.
The Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) went on to say that:
Though our internal investigation is closing, it does not mean we are done. It means we are maintaining our normal Zero Trust security posture, where our security teams work continually to protect users, devices and data from ongoing threats to our environment. Our collaborative work with the cybersecurity community to protect from ongoing threats continues and, as we learn more, we will share learnings and guidance as appropriate.
MSRC highlighted that even though the attack was discovered in December 2020 with organizations racing to mitigate the threat, its analysis shows that the malicious actor attempted access in January 2021 as well. It has clarified that across all of its services, the attacker was able to view and download only a small number of code files for Azure, Intune, and Exchange. None of the code files breached contained any live credentials being used in production environments.