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What We Know About Russia’s Alleged Hack Of The U.S. Government And Tech Companies

A massive computer breach allowed hackers to spend months exploring numerous U.S. government networks and private companies’ systems around the world. Industry experts say a country mounted the complex hack — and government officials say Russia is responsible.

The hackers attached their malware to a software update from SolarWinds, a company based in Austin, Texas. Many federal agencies and thousands of companies worldwide use SolarWinds’ Orion software to monitor their computer networks.

SolarWinds says that nearly 18,000 of its customers — in the government and the private sector — received the tainted software update from March to June of this year.

Here’s what we know about the attack:

Who is responsible?

Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, is believed to have carried out the hack, according to cybersecurity experts who cite the extremely sophisticated nature of the attack. Russia has denied involvement.

President Trump has been silent about the hack and his administration has not attributed blame. However, U.S. intelligence agencies have started briefing members of Congress, and several lawmakers have said the information they’ve seen points toward Russia.