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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Security experts, businesses and government agencies are continuing their work to understand the scope of a massive cyber attack, while the finger-pointing and blame game is also picking up steam.

The big picture: Experts warn the attack could have severe repercussions given it went on for months, targeted key companies and government agencies and gained access to a wide swath of substantive information.

Catch up quick: The attack, attributed to Russia, began with the targeting of security firm SolarWinds. Gaining access there allowed the nation-state hackers access to information from a variety of high-profile agencies and companies, including the Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security departments.

What's new:

  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal, after receiving a classified briefing, placed the blame squarely on Russia and called for more information to be made public.
  • Microsoft and other companies seized a domain that was used in the attack, hoping to limit further damage.
  • The Washington Post reported Tuesday that key investors in SolarWinds sold $280 million in the company's stock in the days before the attack was announced publicly.

What's next: Alex Stamos, director of the Stanford Internet Observatory, wrote in the Washington Post that the attack shows "something is wrong with how our country protects itself against the hackers working for our adversaries in Russia, China, Iran and North Korea."

  • Stamos suggested the government could improve cyber response by creating an agency to investigate serious incidents; passing a data breach law that would make it mandatory to disclose more types of incidents; and ensuring key Biden administration roles are filled by people with "practical, hands-on defensive experience."

Go deeper: What we know about Russia's sprawling hack into federal agencies

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jan 26, 2021 - World

Biden holds first phone call with Putin, raises Navalny arrest

Putin takes a call in 2017. Photo: Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty

President Biden on Tuesday held his first call since taking office with Vladimir Putin, pressing the Russian president on the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the Russia-linked hack on U.S. government agencies.

The state of play: Biden also raised arms control, bounties allegedly placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, according to a White House readout. The statement said Biden and Putin agreed maintain "consistent communication," and that Biden stressed the U.S. would "act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies."

Ben Geman, author of Generate
35 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Japan vows deeper emissions cuts ahead of White House summit

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Japan on Thursday said it will seek to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 46% below 2013 levels by 2030, per the AP and other outlets.

Why it matters: The country is the world's fifth-largest largest carbon dioxide emitter and a major consumer of coal, oil and natural gas.

The global race to regulate AI

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Regulators in Europe and Washington are racing to figure out how to govern business' use of artificial intelligence while companies push to deploy the technology.

Driving the news: On Wednesday, the EU revealed a detailed proposal on how AI should be regulated, banning some uses outright and defining which uses of AI are deemed "high-risk."