The former head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security accepted the blame for the hack that infiltrated the computer systems of a number of federal agencies, including the Pentagon, and scores of companies in the private sector.
In a Sunday interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Chris Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, was asked by host Jake Tapper who was at fault for the breach.
“So, the way I look at it is, yes, it happened on my watch at CISA. And we missed it. A bunch of other folks missed it,” he responded.
Krebs, who was fired by President Trump last month for contradicting him over whether there was fraud during the 2020 election, said he didn’t become aware of the hack that was launched in March until it became public last week.
“This came out in the public after I was terminated,” he said.
But Trump has not blamed Krebs for the attack.
During the interview, Krebs said he trusts the “intelligence community” that Russia was behind the hack, a stand contrary to the president, who has claimed it was China.
“Everything I have heard, whether it’s from private sector cybersecurity threat intelligence experts, things I have heard out of Congress and the intelligence community, it’s Russia,” Krebs said.
“I mean, they’re exceptionally good at this, particularly the foreign intelligence service, the SVR. They’re good. They’re quiet. They’re deliberate. They’re patient and they’re careful,” he continued.
Cybersecurity firm FireEye revealed the breach last week, and CISA ordered federal agencies to scour their systems for bad actors.
The perpetrator was able to access the computer systems of the government agencies — including the Treasury, Energy, Commerce and Homeland Security departments, the Pentagon and private companies Cisco Systems and Cox Communications and others — by slipping malware into SolarWinds server software.
Krebs on Sunday called for caution and international cooperation in weighing retaliation for the breach.
“I’d be very careful with escalating this. I think there needs to be a conversation globally, internationally, across like-minded countries about, what is acceptable?” he said.
“This is espionage. I think that’s, in part, how it’s being characterized. The thing that really concerns me about this particular campaign by the Russians was the indiscriminate nature of the supply chain targeting, the fact that they have potentially compromised 18,000 companies,” he continued.
“That, to me, is outside of the bounds of at least what we have seen recently of espionage activities.”