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Richard Brooks's picture
Co-Founder and Lead Software Engineer Reliable Energy Analytics LLC

Inventor of patent 11,374,961: METHODS FOR VERIFICATION OF SOFTWARE OBJECT AUTHENTICITY AND INTEGRITY and the Software Assurance Guardian™ (SAG ™) Point Man™ (SAG-PM™) software and SAGScore™...

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  • Dec 14, 2020
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SolarWinds.Orion.Core.BusinessLayer.dll is a SolarWinds digitally-signed component of the Orion software framework that contains a backdoor that communicates via HTTP to third party servers. We are tracking the trojanized version of this SolarWinds Orion plug-in as SUNBURST.

This is further proof that digitally signed software alone is insufficient to determine trustworthiness and that a comprehensive software supply chain risk assessment, that includes a malware scan, is needed to identify software supply chain risk. Energy Central hosted a Powersession on 8/12/2020 describing best practices for software supply chain risk assessments, based on the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, V1.1. The session is available on demand at: https://energycentral.com/o/energy-central/demand-energy-central-powersession-series-cybersecurity-us-power-grid-software

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 15, 2020

This is further proof that digitally signed software alone is insufficient to determine trustworthiness and that a comprehensive software supply chain risk assessment, that includes a malware scan, is needed to identify software supply chain risk.

It seems like the proof is well established, but what's needed is urgency towards action by those empowered to make it happen. Are we going to have to wait for further breaches like this, or perhaps higher profile ones, before we see broader mobilization? 

Richard Brooks's picture
Richard Brooks on Dec 17, 2020

Matt, I don't know why we are not seeing more action by parties to protect themselves from the bad guys. I'm speculating that the "compliance mindset" has dominated the energy industry approach to dealing with cybersecurity, which is a very low bar, and does not sufficiently protect against supply chain risks. Perhaps someday at regulator like FERC or a State PUC will step up and require entities to implement real cybersecurity controls in place of the current low bar compliance requirements.

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