State Government

State of Vermont server taken offline after nationwide cyberattack

by Guy Page

The State of Vermont took a server offline as a result of being among 18,000 computer users affected by a nationwide cyberattack, Chief Information Officer John Quinn said this morning.

Yesterday, a sophisticated attack “compromised security firm FireEye, the US Treasury and Commerce departments and likely many more victims,” Malwarebytes.com reports

“Threat actors hacked into IT company SolarWinds in order to use its software channel to push out malicious updates onto 18,000 of its Orion platform customers. This scenario, referred to as a supply-chain attack, is perhaps the most devious and difficult to detect as it relies on software that has already been trusted and that can be widely distributed at once,” Malwarebytes said. 

Vermont CIO John Quinn

The State of Vermont was among those customers, Quinn told Vermont Daily today. “We were one of the 18,000 solarwinds customers that were on the affected software version. We immediately took the server offline and have taken additional security steps to protect our systems and data. We have no evidence that we were compromised but are monitoring our environment very closely.”

The loss of the server did not affect computer services. “The server that we took offline monitored system performance of our servers. It is not noticable to our users or citizens,” Quinn said. 

The University of Vermont Medical Center is emerging from a disastrous cyberattack that began in late October and took down the patient information portal and employee email. The cyberattack cost the hospital an estimated $63 million in overall costs. 

According to its website, Solarwinds delivers IT solutions – including cybersecurity – to many state and national government agencies, including:

  • Defense: U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corp, IC, and DoD Agencies and the UK Defence Sector. 
  • Civilian: U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Justice, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Treasury, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and more.
  • National/Central: UK National Health Service (NHS), UK Central Government, European Parliament, Health and Social Care Information Centre, Republic of Turkey Ministry of Health, NATO Support Agency, and more.
  • State, Local & Education: The State of Texas, The City of Indianapolis, Harrison College, University of California, Berkeley, and more.

According to the New York Times, the National Security Agency (NSA) was caught unawares. It was informed of the breach by a private company. It is not known how long the hackers – believed to be Russian-based – have been accessing information, nor is it known what information has been accessed.

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