My latest article is up on Geekwire: How hacked is hacked? Here’s a ‘hack scale’ to better understand the SolarWinds cyberattacks.
[Note: This scale is now posted on its own page here.]
While doing some work around the SolarWinds hacks, I realized that there’s just no simple triage scale that we in the industry can use to simply and succinctly characterize the severity of hacks.
This is my proposal for a simple scale to enable simple but meaningful comparisons of the severity of hacks.
Since the most important thing in hacks is the spread and severity, the cancer staging system gives a good model for measuring these kinds of things so this is adapted from that.
- Stage 0: The attackers have found or made an entry point to systems or the network but haven’t used it or took no action.
- Stage I: Attackers have control of a system but haven’t moved beyond the system to the broader network.
- Stage II: Attackers have moved to the broader network and are in “read-only” mode meaning they can read and steal data but not alter it.
- Stage III: Attackers have moved to the broader network and have “write” access to the network meaning they can alter data as well as read and steal it.
- Stage IV: Attackers have administrative control of the broader network meaning they can create accounts and new means of entry to the network as well as alter, read and steal data.
(Also posted on Medium)
In my latest Geekwire article “How the SolarWinds hackers are targeting cloud services in unprecedented cyberattack, I continue looking at the SolarWinds event, this time digging into the SAML token angle that’s not been covered very well. Others have either ignored it entirely or touched on it in a light, technically unclear/inaccurate way all leading to confusion and a lack of appreciation for how serious this angle is.
In my latest posting on Geekwire, “Microsoft unleashes ‘Death Star’ on SolarWinds hackers in extraordinary response to breach” I draw on my past experiences being on the teams running the biggest incidents at Microsoft. In this I give what I think is the fullest picture ever on what Microsoft has done in a major incident, in this case the ongoing SolarWinds incident.
Microsoft doesn’t do this for all incidents, but this isn’t the only incident they’ve pulled out the stops like this. Unfortunately no one outside of the teams has ever really understood how much they can and do do at times.
In that way, this article is dedicated to the literally hundreds if not thousands of people who have worked these incidents at Microsoft over the years, many of whom I had the true honor and pleasure of working with.
Update 12/28/2020: As a follow up I’m happy to say I’ve heard from several people that this has been making the rounds internally at Microsoft and has made people who otherwise haven’t gotten credit for work feel they got some credit. That makes me very happy.
Also, I’m told that about two weeks after posting, this has racked up around 800,000 page views, making it one of the best performing article ever for Geekwire.