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Blog | Jan 14, 2021

The SolarWinds supply chain compromise (Part 2):

Addressing customer scenarios and questions

In our recent post about the SolarWinds “Sunburst” supply chain compromise, we examined the importance of operationalizing threat intelligence, explained our response, shared our early observations and highlighted the potential of a broader cyberthreat that goes beyond the headlines.

In this post, we’ll address the three main questions our customers have asked us, each of which corresponds to a particular scenario in which you might find yourself.

But first—and very quickly—we want to reiterate that while this cyberattack is notable for many reasons, it would be a mistake to forget about the other, more common cyberthreats, which are always lurking about. For example, just a few days ago the eSentire MDR endpoint service, esENDPOINT, detected an unknown Drive-by Compromise that threatened a customer in the Venture Capital & Private Equity industry. Our investigation suggests that a user visited a website which, after a series of automated redirects, ultimately led to a site that exploited CVE-2019-0752.

Exploitation led to execution of a malicious VBA file, which in turn initiated a PowerShell command that executed a cmd.exe process that wrote a file to disk. That file was then used as part of a WScript command that downloaded a binary from the internet, the attempted execution of which was detected by esENDPOINT—leading to isolation, alerting and escalation.

So, while Sunburst warrants attention, make sure not to forget about other high-priority threats that are always active!

Scenario #1: “We are not a SolarWinds Orion customer. What should we do?”

Many customers of ours, who are not SolarWinds Orion customers, have reached out with questions about whether or not this cyberthreat affects them and what, if any, action is needed on their part.

For organizations in this situation, here are the three most important things to do:

  • If you operate an applicable M365/Azure environment, then run detection tools made available by CISA (Sparrow) and CrowdStrike's Reporting Tool for Azure (CRT)
  • Take the opportunity to review your patch management program effectiveness to ensure you are prioritizing software security updates—do not allow this incident to negatively impact your patch management hygiene
  • Reach out to your vendors to find out if they were affected in any way and, if so, ensure they have taken the necessary actions to eliminate this threat

And in general, keep in mind that the security community is still learning more about this cyberattack every day and will introduce new capabilities as warranted—ensure your AV signatures are up-to date, as hashes will keep being added as they are discovered.

Scenario #2: “We are a SolarWinds Orion customer, but we did not install any vulnerable versions of SolarWinds Orion. What should we do?”

Some of our customers have stated they are users of SolarWinds Orion software and that they are behind in patching. They are looking for advice on next steps, asking questions including:

  • “Should we stay on our current (older) version or upgrade to the latest version?”
  • “Is upgrading our server sufficient, or should we rebuild from bare metal?”

For organizations in this position, we recommend migrating to the latest platform version 2019.4 HF 6 or 2020.2.1 HF 2 as soon as possible.

Note that SolarWinds does not recommend rebuilding if you did not run an affected version of Orion.

Scenario #3: “We installed a vulnerable version of the SolarWinds Orion platform. What should we do?”

eSentire has performed indicator of compromise (IoC) sweeps and Managed Vulnerability Service (MVS) scans across our customer base to look for evidence of post-compromise activity—and these actions continue with new IoCs as they emerge from our ongoing research.

So far (across hundreds of customers):

  • We have detected roughly 25 stage one IoCs including vulnerable DLL hash and C2 DNS beacons
  • We have not detected any stage two “Teardrop” dropper or the follow-on Cobalt Strike beacon activity

However, these sweeps and scans will only examine assets visible to eSentire, so we recommend that you perform post-compromise IoC checks across any/all additional assets.


  • If you operate an applicable M365/Azure environment, then run detection tools made available by CISA (Sparrow) and CrowdStrike's Reporting Tool for Azure (CRT)
  • Upgrade or rebuild SolarWinds Orion infrastructure to latest platform version 2020.2.1 HF 2

A new threat to Sunburst-vulnerable versions of Orion

Also, note that there are reports of threat actors exploiting a separate, previously unknown authentication bypass vulnerability which is also present in Sunburst-vulnerable versions of SolarWinds Orion. This cyberthreat, “Supernova,” is tracked as CVE-2020-10148. SolarWinds recommends:

  • Rebuilding internet-accessible Orion infrastructure
  • Upgrading non-internet accessible Orion infrastructure

SolarWinds has developed a program to provide professional consulting resources, at no charge, to customers with active maintenance plans.

A few final words

It’s important to avoid overfocusing on Sunburst at the expense of your vigilance against other cyber threats. You might recall that this incident originally made headlines when FireEye announced that their Red Team tools were stolen—even though those tools exploit known vulnerabilities (some of which are several years old). Data, from our Managed Vulnerability Service, suggests that many organizations have not yet installed the requisite patches.

So please, don’t forget about good cybersecurity hygiene: apply patches, keep your security solutions up to date, employ a multi-layer security strategy, make sure employees are aware of the most common cyber risks, and so on.

And of course, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

eSentire Threat Intel

eSentire Threat Intel

Threat Intelligence Research Group