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SolarWinds CEO to face grilling from lawmakers

Yahoo Finance’s Akiko Fujita, Zack Guzman, and Jessica Smith preview today’s hearing on the hack of U.S. Networks.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, the Senate Intelligence Committee set to hold a hearing later this afternoon to address the Russian hacking incident now known as the SolarWinds breach. Microsoft president Brad Smith as well as SolarWinds CEO Kevin Thompson among those testifying.

Jessica Smith is tracking the very latest on that front. And Jess, we've already heard from the Biden administration, talking about addressing the gaps in cybersecurity through executive action. What's going to be the focus for lawmakers in the hearing today?

JESSICA SMITH: Well, the focus today is going to be trying to get a better understanding of how exactly this happened and what the government needs to do going forward to make sure it does not happen again. Multiple committees are going to be looking into this issue this week. But Senate Intel is up first.

As you mentioned, the CEOs of SolarWinds, the president of Microsoft are testifying along with the CEOs of FireEye and CrowdStrike. These are really key players in this whole story. Obviously, Microsoft and FireEye were compromised. Malware was implanted in SolarWinds software. And CrowdStrike is helping SolarWinds recover from the hack.

This was a really massive breach. At least nine federal agencies and 100 private companies were compromised. Officials say that it was likely Russia.

I did get an early look at the opening remarks from Chairman Mark Warner. And he says it looks like the scope and scale of this attack is beyond anything the US has ever seen before. He goes on to say, "the reality is that the hackers responsible have gained access to thousands of networks and the ability to carry out far more destructive operations if they wanted to. The footholds these hackers gained into private networks, including some of the world's largest IT vendors, may provide opportunities for future intrusions for years to come."

So today, Warner plans, again, to try and figure out exactly how this happened and why it wasn't detected sooner and then what they can do to prevent it in the future. An issue that's going to be brought up, most likely, is information sharing, whether or not companies should be required to report any breaches to the government.

Warner is also going to raise the idea of possibly having something like an NTSB that would respond immediately and examine any suspected hack. So we'll see what the executives have to say about those ideas. And then those same executives will be testifying on the House side later this week on Friday. Zack and Akiko?

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah. And George Kurtz, the CEO of CrowdStrike, a frequent guest on our show here. Shares in CrowdStrike off by about 6%. We'll see if that changes when we get to the panel hearing.

When you look at what the president might do to respond to all of this though, Jess, what do we know about how the Biden administration is looking at maybe a tougher stance on cybersecurity issues?

JESSICA SMITH: Well, we did hear from Senator Warner and Senator Rubio earlier this year, saying that they were concerned about the US response. They said it was disjointed and disorganized. Since then, President Biden has put one person in charge of the SolarWinds response. That's a move that the senators praised.

He's also expected to roll out an executive order that's going to address some of the gaps that have come to light in the aftermath of all of this, so measures that would increase US cybersecurity. His national security advisor recently told CNN to expect some sort of response in the next few weeks. And we do know that he's also brought this up to Vladimir Putin himself. So we'll see what more we learn from the Biden administration in the weeks to come.