Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerBipartisan, bicameral group urges Trump to sign COVID-19 relief package Relief bill’s passage sets off scramble to declare victory, assign blame The Hill’s Morning Report – At long last, Congress reaches COVID-19 relief deal MORE (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Wednesday that the cyberattacks on U.S. government agencies reported in December may have begun earlier than previously believed.
“The initial burrowing in may have started earlier,” Warner told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.
Warner told the outlet that no evidence has been discovered that suggests classified government secrets were breached.
“The amount of time it’s taking to assess the [latest] attack, it’s taking longer than we would like to take,” Warner said.
The Virginia senator said gaps in U.S, and international law are making it difficult for the government to prevent large-scale hacks and called for tighter controls to be enacted.
Resistance to heightened cyberspace legal controls dates back to the Obama administration, Warner told Reuters, saying people from both the government and private sector “pushed back ferociously” at such suggestions.
The attacks came through a software update sent out by Texas-based software company SolarWinds, which counts multiple U.S. government agencies as customers.
As Reuters noted, the hack was done through what is called a “supply chain attack,” in which malicious code is hidden in legitimate software updates and meant to target third parties, in this case the U.S. government.
Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoPompeo calls for release of Chinese journalist jailed over coronavirus coverage Trump administration approves 0M bomb sale to Saudis Trump administration strengthens order barring US investment in Chinese firms MORE has said that Russia is the most likely suspect behind the attacks. President TrumpDonald TrumpGeorgia signature audit finds no fraud in presidential election Pompeo calls for release of Chinese journalist jailed over coronavirus coverage Pence refused to sign on to plan to overturn election, lawyers say MORE, however, has pointed a finger at China. A Chinese official shot down the suggestions, saying the U.S. had “politicized” the issue without “conclusive evidence.”
“We hope the United States will take a more responsible attitude on cyber security,” Wang Wenbin of the Chinese foreign ministry told reporters.
“There has been obviously a reluctance out of this White House to call out Russia repeatedly,” Warner said. “I don’t believe that is a problem of the intelligence community. I think that is a problem of the White House.”
President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenGeorgia signature audit finds no fraud in presidential election Pence refused to sign on to plan to overturn election, lawyers say New Lincoln Project ad shows Trump border wall built from tombstones of COVID-19 victims MORE called for modernizing U.S. defenses last week in light of the attacks.
“We have to be able to innovate and reimagine our defenses against growing threats in new realms like cyberspace,” Biden said.