MICROSOFT HAS SOME BAD NEWS for some 10,0000 of customers, as it has warned that they're being targeted by nation-state hackers.
Tom Burtt, Microsoft corporate vice president of customer security & trust, warned that over the past year, Redmond has found that a large number of enterprise organisations were being targeted by hackers who have the backing of a state.
"Let's start with a quick look at the newest data available to us. In the past year, Microsoft has notified nearly 10,000 customers they've been targeted or compromised by nation-state attacks. About 84% of these attacks targeted our enterprise customers, and about 16% targeted consumer personal email accounts," Burt said.
"While many of these attacks are unrelated to the democratic process, this data demonstrates the significant extent to which nation-states continue to rely on cyber attacks as a tool to gain intelligence, influence geopolitics or achieve other objectives."
Burt noted that the majority of nation-state hack activity was coming from actors in three nations: Iran, Russia and North Korea; regular followers of cybersecurity stories won't be too surprised to hear that.
"We have seen extensive activity from the actors we call Holmium and Mercury operating from Iran, Thallium operating from North Korea, and two actors operating from Russia we call Yttrium and Strontium," Burt said, adding that the data Microsoft is basing this on was harvested by its Threat Intelligence Center.
Microsoft does have its AccountGuard security platform designed to protect against hacks made on democratic elections and processes, but Burt said it also highlighted how many state-sponsored attacks are brought against the organisations that use the tech.
He also said that "democracy-focussed" organisations in the US should be particularity concerned as they by their nature offer services that are critical to society but lack the resources to have the robust security of a large enterprise. Burt said that organisations like think tanks and NGOs tend to get attacked as a precursor to election hack attempts.
As Microsoft is a money-making business, this warning also came with the promotion of Microsoft's ElectionGuard security tool, which unsurprisingly is Redmond's attempt to combat election hacking. And Burt did add that stopping such state-sponsored attacks isn't just the responsibility of governments, but also the tech world as well.
"At the same time, no single company can tackle these issues, and the need to protect democracy is more important than corporate competition," Burt said.
That's quite an ambition given the spats tech firms get into. But then again, defending democracy is rather important, so perhaps the big player will play nice with each other when it comes to keeping hackers at bay. µ
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