- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 5, 2021

America’s nuclear arsenal wasn’t compromised by a recent cyber attack that targeted thousands of sensitive computer networks used by government agencies and private companies, the Navy admiral in charge of the U.S. Strategic Command said.

The hack exploited a flaw in network monitoring software produced by Texas-based SolarWinds that allowed an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) actor — most likely Russia — to covertly install back door access points in computer networks, officials said.

“We believe this was, and continues to be, an intelligence gathering effort,” according to a joint statement from the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Director of National Intelligence and other federal officials.

Based at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, U.S. Strategic Command is responsible for global strike missions, strategic deterrence and operating the Defense Department’s global information grid. Its commander, Admiral Charles R. Richard, said they were aware of the SolarWinds cyber attack. But their operations weren’t affected by it.

“My NC3 (nuclear command, control and communications) systems are fully mission capable. We test them all the time,” he said during an online briefing to the Washington, D.C.-based Defense Writers Group. “I’ve seen no indications of any compromise.”

Adm. Richard acknowledged that U.S. Strategic Command has been targeted in the past by computer hackers.

“But I’m fully mission capable,” he said.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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