SEC Accuses SolarWinds of Alleged Cybersecurity Hoax


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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched a legal fight against IT management company SolarWinds and its chief cybersecurity officer Timothy Brown for allegedly deceiving investors about its cybersecurity measures ahead of a major cyberattack attributed to Russian hackers in 2019 .

The SEC’s allegations suggest that SolarWinds promoted a misleading image of robust cyber defenses despite internal recognition of significant vulnerabilities. This breach led to unauthorized access to networks across multiple industries, including U.S. government agencies and private businesses.

SolarWinds, known for its Orion network management product, fell victim to a sophisticated cyberespionage operation that resulted in a backdoor being placed in software updates. The breach, discovered a year later in 2020, spanned several high-profile organizations and sparked a wave of scrutiny over the company’s security practices and disclosures.

The SEC’s complaint, which details internal communications and presentations, paints a picture of a company that was aware of its cybersecurity shortcomings but failed to adequately communicate it to investors.


The SEC’s lawsuit comes amid increased regulatory focus on cybersecurity transparency. It underlines the expectation that companies make timely and accurate disclosures regarding cyber risks and incident reporting.


SolarWinds’ response has been a defiance, with claims of proper pre-incident cybersecurity controls and a commitment to legal appeal. Meanwhile, the case is seen as a cautionary tale for chief information security officers (CISOs) and other executives, underscoring the importance of transparent and accurate communication in an age of increasing cyber threats.


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