Federal agencies appear to have been breached in the latest VPN hack to hit the US government

In case you didn’t already know, VPN just celebrated its 25th anniversary. This technology dates back to 1996, when someone working at Microsoft brought to life the peer-to-peer tunneling protocol, which creates a more secure and private connection between a computer and the Internet. It’s not necessarily the case that VPN technology will become obsolete. Even if web applications are encrypted with stronger and more robust cryptographic protocols such as TLS, it will still be necessary to conceal a private IP address. It’s just how it is. Factors such as quality, longevity, and growth, and differentiation justify the continued use of this system.

Many fail to understand that VPN technology isn’t perfect, despite the awe-inspiring breakthroughs that have been made. That being said, it must be noted that some VPNs can be hacked. More precisely, a malicious actor can break through the encryption via the vulnerabilities present in the system or obtain the key by means of unethical practices. The recent attack against the Pulse Secure VPN are a testament to the fact that cyber security meltdowns can take place. If you were under the impression that a VPN is infallible, you’d better think again. VPNs aren’t the perfect tool, so caution must be practiced.

Hackers are scanning for vulnerable VPNs to launch attacks

The Government of the United States relies on information technology to a high degree, whether it’s to drive efficiency or increase citizen engagement. Cyber-attacks, as well as data breaches, now target government operations, which translates into numerous risks and challenges. Hacking sprees have increased considerably in the past couple of years and, unfortunately, there’s no solution in sight. The latest VPN hack concerns federal agencies that began their activity during the Trump administration. Why it took such a long time for the incidents to be discovered we don’t know. The only thing that we know for sure is that great efforts are made to enhance the nation’s security.

In the latest supply chain cyber-attack, the focus was on vulnerable software designed by third parties to protect data from government spying. It involved a renowned virtual private network deployed for tunneling traffic – Pulse Connect Secure, to be more exact. Roughly five state agencies are believed to have been breached. According to the VPN provider, a patch to address the vulnerability in the system won’t be available too soon and it might not offer the expected outcomes. Nevertheless, Pulse Connect Secure ensures users that the team is working directly with affected customers to mitigate the issue. CISA (the Cybersecruity and Infrastructure Security Agency) is doing its best to contain the matter and assist federal agencies with securing their systems.

If we were to listen to the gossip, we would be inclined to think that the Chinese hackers exploited the VPN system to compromise agencies in the United States. But is it so absurd? Many VPNs can be traced to parent companies in China and what’s concerning is that they’re not transparent with consumers. As organizations around the globe are rushing to leverage VPN solutions, it’s essential to understand who owns the VPN you use. If the intrusions of computer systems are really tied to the Chinese government, it’s’ going to come out. Until then, we can’t jump to any conclusions.  Given that the attackers that messed with Pulse Connect Secure’s VPN are quite sophisticated, it will take some time until they’re discovered.

Over the past couple of months, the FBI and the CISA have been working alongside Pulse Connect Secure and the victims of the cyber-attack to identify intruders and, most importantly, uncover evidence. When responsibility for the VPN hack will be determined, the information will be made public. The supply chain attack isn’t comparable to the SolarWinds cyber-attack, but that doesn’t mean that it’s less concerning. As we can all remember, on December 13, 2020, someone messed with the commercial software application made by SolarWinds, customers unknowingly downloading Trojan Horse installation packages.

With VPN hacking attacks constantly in the headlines, more and more people are looking to increase their privacy online

Approximately 90 percent of all media is negative, which can impact our thinking in several ways. Cyber security exploits seem to be constantly in the headlines. The purpose of the articles posted online is not to depict a gloomy reality but to remind us that it’s necessary to take extra measures to stay safe while navigating the Internet. Using a virtual private network used to be a good way to stay safe online. So, the question now is: What has irremediably changed? Well, VPNs rely on a set of protocols, considered highly reliable and secure. The problem is that users find it quite difficult to leverage these systems. More precisely, not all of them don’t bother to monitor and respond to attacks against them.

Every type of software has some sort of vulnerability, but VPNs, in particular, have serious bugs. If there are flaws in the system, there are opportunities for malicious actors. Keep a close eye on what’s happening and know when patches or updates are released. This will help repair security holes and even add new features. Make sure that you’re running the latest version. Equally important is to practice security surveillance with servers. Basically, you should monitor the servers at all times to make sure there are no incidents. If malicious actors are identified on time, the amount of potential damage can be significantly reduced. Indeed, monitoring computer activity and the data stored is hard work, but it’s a worthwhile activity.

To sum up, the recent cyber security attack is enough to scare anyone. It doesn’t come as a surprise that an ever-increasing number of people are seeking to increase privacy when surfing the web. They try to keep safe, even if that’s not always possible. It’s estimated that approximately 75 percent of Americans have concerns regarding online privacy and only a small number of them aren’t willing to take any measures. Actively taking security measures means more than changing passwords, needless to say.