Russians Are Believed to Have Used Microsoft Resellers in Cyberattacks

News Highlights: Russians Are Believed to Have Used Microsoft Resellers in Cyberattacks.

As the United States comes to grips with a far-reaching Russian cyberattack on federal agencies, private companies and national infrastructure, new evidence has emerged that the hackers were hunting their victims through multiple channels.

The most significant breaches discovered to date were based on software from SolarWinds, the Austin-based company whose updates put Russians at risk. But new evidence of that the security company CrowdStrike suggests that companies selling software on behalf of Microsoft were also used to break into Microsoft Office 365 software customers.

Since resellers are often entrusted to set up and maintain their customers’ software, they – like SolarWinds – have been an ideal cover for Russian hackers and a nightmare for Microsoft’s cloud customers, who still judge how deep the Russian hackers are. got into their systems.

“They couldn’t get straight into Microsoft 365, so they targeted the weakest point in the supply chain: the resellers,” said Glenn Chisholm, founder of Obsidian, a cybersecurity company.

CrowdStrike confirmed on Wednesday that it was also a target of the attack. In the case of CrowdStrike, the Russians were not using SolarWinds but a Microsoft reseller, and the attack was unsuccessful. A CrowdStrike spokeswoman, Ilina Dimitrova, declined to go beyond a company blog post describing the attempted attack.

The approach is very similar to the attack on Target in 2013, where hackers came in through the retailer’s heating and cooling supplier.

The latest Russian attacks, believed to have started last spring, have exposed a significant blind spot in the software supply chain. Companies can track phishing attacks and malware as long as they blindly trust vendors and cloud services such as Microsoft, Salesforce Google’s G-Suite, Zoom, Slack, SolarWinds and others, and give them wide access to employee email and corporate networks – they will never be safe, say cybersecurity experts.

“These cloud services create a web of interconnections and opportunities for the attacker,” said Mr. Chisholm. “What we are witnessing now is a new wave of modern attacks against these modern cloud platforms, and we need defense in 2021.”

Some reports have confused the latest development with a breach of Microsoft itself. But the company said last week it was sticking to its statement that it had not been hacked, nor was it being used to attack customers.

But the CrowdStrike discovery shows how the Russian hackers used their resellers to indirectly target their customers. CrowdStrike said in a blog post on Wednesday that hackers attempted to read the company’s emails from a reseller account but were unable to access its data or systems.

US officials only noticed the attack in recent weeks, and only when a private cybersecurity company, FireEye, warned US intelligence that the hackers had evaded layers of defense.

Clearly, the Treasury and Commerce Departments, the first agencies reported to be breached, were only part of a much larger operation whose sophistication astonished even experts who followed a quarter of a century of Russian hacking on the Pentagon and U.S. civilian agencies .

The National Security Agency – the leading US intelligence organization that both hackes foreign networks and defends national security agencies from attack – apparently did not know about the breach in SolarWinds’ network surveillance software until it was reported by FireEye last week. The National Security Agency itself uses SolarWinds software.

Two of the most embarrassing breaches came at the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, whose Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency oversaw the successful defense of the US electoral system last month.

The Russian hackers behind the attack broke into the email system used by top Finance Ministry officials in July.

Computers at at least two dozen organizations – including Cisco, Intel, Nvidia, Deloitte, and the California Department of State Hospitals – appear to have been hacked, The Wall Street Journal reported. Some groups, such as Intel and Deloitte, said the attack did not affect their most delicate systems.

Via: www.nytimes.com

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