An alleged Russian hack against the U.S. government has been making international headlines this week, with multiple federal agencies potentially vulnerable in the digital attack.
But the hack itself didn't directly target government technology; rather, it was an Austin-based software vendor called SolarWinds that was compromised.
What was actually hacked
Orion, a popular network management software from SolarWinds, was infiltrated by hackers, who many suspect to be associated with the Russian government. The company self-reported the potential breach Monday to federal regulators, one day after alerting 33,000 customers of the hack. In total, the actual number of customers affected may be closer to 18,000.
In the filing, SolarWinds said the "cyberattack" was likely the work "of a highly sophisticated, targeted … attack by an outside nation state," although that hasn't been confirmed yet.
It also isn't clear yet to SolarWinds or its customers what data was actually accessed in the hack, only that a "vulnerability" in the software was created to help gain access without being detected between March and June. The FBI and other federal intelligence agencies are involved in the investigation, according to the company's filing.
What is SolarWinds?
SolarWinds makes "IT look easy," or at least that's how the company describes itself online. The business provides IT infrastructure management software and IT operational support.
The international company is headquartered in Southwest Austin, but its 3,200 employees and 300,000 customers span the globe. So SolarWinds may not be a household name, but its reach and reputation make it well-known in information technology circles.
According to Fortune, SolarWinds serves the U.S. military as well as the majority of all Fortune 500 companies. That means the hack itself could have wider-ranging implications beyond the federal security concerns.
Unsurprisingly, the publicly-traded company has seen its stock value plummet to the lowest of levels since SolarWinds went public in late 2018. SolarWinds is urging its customers of the popular software to follow through measures outlined in a security advisory.
Reactions so far this week
I am really unhappy with SolarWinds’ SEC filing about their breach. Let me explain why. First, they claim (without… https://t.co/HQlGxY3v1u— Jake Williams (@Jake Williams) 1607992079.0
Cybersecurity experts are sounding the warning alarms. CNN Business talked to one expert who said the unknowns surrounding this hack has them particularly concerned. A former NSA hacker even called out SolarWinds on Twitter, disputing information contained in the company's public filing.
The Commerce, Homeland Security and Agriculture departments were all targeted, but military and national security operations might have been accessed, too. And that access might've been unfiltered if hackers were able to indeed open the so-called "God door," one former White House official warned about Wednesday.
Data was stolen from at least one company, cybersecurity firm FireEye, which had security assessment tools stolen as part of a hack that prompted this entire discovery. And the attack is daunting enough that one of the senior-most members of Congress, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, called the attack "virtually a declaration of war" by Russia.
A big-money bird has been stolen from a northwest Austin pet store.
Kelsey Fernandez, the owner of a $6,000 sulphur and citron-crested cockatoo named Lemon Grab, said the emotional support animal was taken from the Gallery of Pets store, around closing time on Sunday.
"I've struggled with mental illness my entire life, and ever since I got him I've been doing so much better," Fernandez told Austonia.
The $6k cockatoo is young and will starve unless he is fed by hand, Fernandez said.
In a surveillance video, a man appears to have something under his shirt as he and two others exit the business around the same time the store believes that Lemon Grab was stolen.
Fernandez said a report has been filed with the Austin Police Department with an $1,000 reward for his return.
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Introverts and personal space lovers may not want to make the move to Austin anytime soon: The Texas capital saw a bigger increase in one-bedroom rent prices than almost any other U.S. city in April, according to a Rent.com report.
Austin's one-bedroom rent has more than doubled—a 112% increase—from April 2021 to 2022, the report said. Only Oklahoma City saw a higher year-over-year increase with a 133% jump.
Austin also had the fourth-highest increase in two-bedroom rent, with a 50% increase in the past year. The city joined a nationwide trend where rents were up 8.3% year-over-year across the U.S, a trend exacerbated by a 6.2% increase in inflation in the same time period.
But "not everyone is experiencing inflation the same way," Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr said in the report, and a brunt of the load has gone to cities with more move-ins. While over 90% of state rental markets increased in the last year, that jump was seen most in Sun Belt states, including Texas, Arizona and Florida.
Even with breakneck increases in rent, however, Austin's rent prices still haven't cracked the top 10: the city's one-bedroom apartments are the 12th most expensive in the nation with an average price of $2,918. Meanwhile, its two-bedrooms fall behind Texas cities Frisco, Dallas and Plano and come out 34th on the list with a $2,302 average monthly rent.
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