Five Things to Do in Response to SolarWinds Compromise

The recent hack against FireEye and the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Department affected SolarWinds software for more than 18,000 software users including mostly private company clients in addition to the famously affected government entities.  SolarWinds has confirmed that a cyberattack to its systems inserted a vulnerability within the SolarWinds® Orion® Platform software builds for versions 2019.4 HF 5, 2020.2 with no hotfix, and 2020.2 HF 1 (see the SolarWinds Advisory if unsure which version you use). If your organization uses these products, prompt action may be needed to identify and mitigate potential security implications. The malware allows the (likely Russian) hackers to set a back door into companies using the Orion Platform.  Some targets have been attacked and mined for data right away, while others have nothing beyond the vulnerability as yet unexploited.

Thousands of SolarWinds customers have already received notice directly from SolarWinds that their products were not affected by the incident and no action is required. Otherwise, the following mitigation steps are recommended:

  1. Disconnect from the internet all Orion products for versions 2019.4 HF 5 and 2020.2 with no hotfix or 2020.2 HF 1 and update your versions as noted in the SolarWinds security advisory
  2. Identify and block all traffic to and from external sources where Orion software is installed
  3. Remove exemptions for Orion software file directories in your organization’s antivirus software and scan your systems
  4. Identify threat-actor controlled accounts and remove those accounts
  5. Continue monitoring systems for other suspicious activity and read updated advisories as more information about the attacks is discovered and released

SolarWinds and FireEye have also provided the following advisories that can help your organization determine what damage or data exposure, if any, was afflicted by the hackers and what else to do to protect your systems and data:


2020 Predictions for Data Businesses

It’s a new year, a new decade, and a new experience for me writing for the HeyDataData blog.  My colleagues asked for input and discussion around 2020 predictions for technology and data protection.  Dom has already written about a few.  I’ve picked out four:

  1. Experiential retail

Stores will offer technology-infused shopping experience in their stores.  Even today, without using my phone, I can experience a retailer’s products and services with store-provided technology, without needing to open an app.  I can try on a pair of glasses or wear a new lipstick color just by putting my face in front of a screen.  We will see how creative companies can be in luring us to the store by offering us an experience that we have to try.  This experiential retail type of technology is a bit ahead of the Amazon checkout technology, but passive payment methods are coming, too.  [But if we still don’t want to go to the store, companies will continue to offer us more mobile ordering—for pick-up or delivery.]

  1. Consumers will still tell companies their birthdays and provide emails for coupons (well, maybe not in California)

We will see whether the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will meaningfully change consumers’ perception about giving their information to companies—usually lured by financial incentives (like loyalty programs, coupons, etc. or a free app).  I tend to think that we will continue to download apps and give information if it is convenient or cheaper for us and that companies will think it is good for business (and their shareholders, if applicable) to continue to engage with their consumers.  This is an extension of number 1, really, because embedding technology in the retail experience will allow companies to offer new (hopefully better) products (and gather data they may find a use for later. . . ).  Even though I think consumers will still provide up their data, I also think consumer privacy advocates try harder to shift their perceptions (enter CCPA 2.0 and others).

  1. More “wearables” will hit the market

We already have “smart” refrigerators, watches, TVs, garage doors, vacuum cleaners, stationary bikes and treadmills.  Will we see other, traditionally disconnected items connect?  I think yes.  Clothes, shoes, purses, backpacks, and other “wearables” are coming.

  1. Computers will help with decisions

We will see more technology-aided (trained with lots of data) decision making.  Just yesterday, one of the most read stories described how an artificial intelligence system detected cancer matching or outperforming radiologists that looked at the same images.  Over the college football bowl season, I saw countless commercials for insurance companies showing how their policy holders can lower their rates if they let an app track how they are driving.  More applications will continue to pop-up.

Those are my predictions.  And I have one wish to go with it.  Those kinds of advances create tension among open innovation, ethics and the law.  I do not predict that we will solve this in 2020, but my #2020vision is that we will make progress.