Cyber security and global data protection

SolarWinds security breach: An in-depth analysis and the Sentinel Node solution

This in-depth analysis of the SolarWinds security breach is co-written with Greg Ward, Chief Development Officer at SmartLedger. Learn more about SmartLedger’s suite of products including Certihash Sentinel Node here.


In late 2020, the IT management software giant SolarWinds fell victim to a cyber attack of unparalleled sophistication. This assault not only jeopardized public and private sectors globally but also marked its place in history as one of the most intricate cyber espionage endeavors. Amidst this backdrop, Sentinel Node, an innovative solution and potential game-changer in breach detection and audibility, was being developed by CERTIHASH.

This analysis delves into the intricacies of the SolarWinds breach and postulates how the intervention of Sentinel Node might have dramatically altered the outcome, fortifying systems against such advanced threats.

The SolarWinds breach: A comprehensive overview

SolarWinds’ cybersecurity breach distinguished itself as a formidable cyberattack, with the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service suspected at its helm, hinting at geopolitical consequences. The breach began subtly in 2019 with test codes into SolarWinds products, progressing by 2020 into a trojanized code, allowing stealthy remote access. Although around 18,000 customers were impacted, the primary targets were high-profile entities, including significant federal sectors. The breach came to light in November 2020 with FireEye’s detection, which set off swift responses from major players like Microsoft and federal agencies.

Nature of the attack:

  • Hackers utilized the SolarWinds Orion software updates to disseminate the ‘SUNBURST’ malware, thereby gaining access to the systems of SolarWinds’ vast clientele, including pivotal government agencies and major corporations.
  • Internal communications revealed discrepancies between public statements and internal assessments. Reports to the SEC during this period were supposedly generic, even though specific vulnerabilities were known.

Scope and impact:

  • Over 18,000 SolarWinds customers were directly compromised.
  • Potential exposure of sensitive data from sectors like national security, defense, and other governmental departments.
  • Following the disclosure of the SUNBURST attack in December 2020, SolarWinds witnessed a sharp 35% decline in its stock price.

Discrepancies in SolarWinds’ security measures:

  • Public statements about cybersecurity did not reflect the company’s internal assessments. For instance, an internal presentation from 2018 showcased the vulnerabilities in SolarWinds’ remote access set-up.
  • In 2018 and 2019, presentations by Brown indicated significant security flaws within the company. Throughout 2019 and 2020, there were several internal communications highlighting doubts about the company’s ability to defend its crucial assets.

The Sentinel Node Shield: Bridging advanced breach detection and blockchain

In the rapidly transforming digital era, cybersecurity paradigms are experiencing unprecedented shifts. Leading this charge is CERTIHASH, a pioneering initiative dedicated to redefining the contours of enterprise cybersecurity. With a strategic vision of unveiling five avant-garde products tailored to fortify IT architectures, CERTIHASH seamlessly integrates the robust capabilities of groundbreaking technologies like blockchain into pragmatic, potent, and accessible solutions adaptable to organizations of all magnitudes.

The flagship offering from this innovative suite is Sentinel Node, epitomizing the next-gen vanguard in IT protection. Crafted in a strategic alliance with IBM, Sentinel Node breaks free from the constraints of conventional cybersecurity frameworks. While traditional systems might falter, often requiring prolonged durations to detect discrepancies, Sentinel Node excels. Serving as an ever-watchful sentinel for IT infrastructures, it adopts a rigorous protocol of perpetual file integrity assessment. Harnessing the power of the SHA-256 collision-resistant cryptographic hash function, Sentinel Node assiduously gathers, hashes, and examines network logs or system files at ten-second intervals. Even the minutest deviation triggers an immediate notification, compelling prompt examination and intervention. This proactive approach not only impedes covert cyber threats but also dramatically compresses reaction times, diminishing the potential aftermath of digital breaches.

Yet, the brilliance of Sentinel Node extends further. By leveraging the formidable BSV blockchain, it furnishes an unassailable audit record. Every operation and every shift is sequentially documented, endorsing unparalleled transparency and permanence. Put simply, once data is inscribed onto this blockchain ledger, it becomes an indelible testament—immutable and perpetual.

Moreover, to enhance system accountability, all administrative undertakings necessitate validation through a unique private key. This rigorous protocol ensures that every alteration is attributable to a specific entity, cultivating a milieu of amplified accountability and bolstered defense.

To sum up, CERTIHASH’s Sentinel Node is more than just a technological marvel—it symbolizes the pinnacle of cybersecurity’s evolution, encapsulating sophistication, responsibility, and unwavering reliability.

Revolutionizing detection:

  • Leveraging its unmatched alert mechanism, Sentinel Node would have adeptly unmasked the malware’s covert liaisons with external command hubs.
  • With a staggering detection pace, a colossal 4032X ahead of standard benchmarks, the malware’s concealed operations would have been swiftly unveiled, compelling an immediate and decisive intervention.

Blockchain-ensured accountability:

  • At the heart of Sentinel Node lies its blockchain backbone, poised to methodically archive every software tweak, entry, and revision in an unbroken chronological continuum.
  • This inviolable record-keeping prowess would have equipped SolarWinds with the precision to pinpoint the breach’s inception and unravel the malware’s intricate path.

Fortified security infrastructure:

  • With its sophisticated integration of hashes into a blockchain framework, Sentinel Node stands as the beacon of unbreachable security protocols.
  • Unauthorized deviations, reminiscent of the SUNBURST malware’s code meddling, would have been met with instantaneous alarm triggers, ushering in immediate remedial maneuvers.

Strategic cybersecurity evolution:

  • While conventional cybersecurity is anchored in prevention, the escalating sophistication of attacks, as evidenced by the SolarWinds incident, underscores the imperative for instantaneous detection and agile response.
  • As a vanguard of this transformative age, Sentinel Node emphasizes rapid threat identification, poised to drastically curtail the window of opportunity for attackers within vulnerable systems.


The SolarWinds incident stands as a stark reminder of the relentless advancements in cyber espionage and the profound vulnerabilities within even the most fortified infrastructures. However, the emergence of CERTIHASH’s Sentinel Node offers a beacon of hope in this formidable terrain.

By integrating the formidable power of blockchain with advanced cybersecurity measures, Sentinel Node offers not just strong protection but also anticipatory threat detection. If SolarWinds had been equipped with this state-of-the-art defense, the outcome could have significantly shifted, protecting countless organizations and the precious data they oversee.

As the theater of cyber conflict evolves, the adoption of pioneering solutions like Sentinel Node transitions from being a mere strategic choice to an absolute necessity for ensuring a secure digital future.

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