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Officials confirmed that Russian hackers are stealing US government emails with Microsoft

Officials confirmed that Russian hackers are stealing US government emails with Microsoft

(CNN) — Russian state-backed hackers have stolen email correspondence between US government agencies and Microsoft by hacking into the software giant's systems. American officials confirmed This Thursday.

Microsoft has notified “several” US federal agencies that hackers may have stolen emails Microsoft sent to those agencies that included login information such as usernames or passwords, Eric Goldstein, a senior US official, told them. CISA) told reporters.

“At this point, we are not aware of any agency production environment that has been compromised as a result of the credentials being exposed,” Goldstein said. In other words, a CISA official told CNN that there is still no evidence that hackers used stolen credentials to successfully break into federal computer systems in active use.

But the leak of Microsoft emails still forces the tech giant and US cyber officials to scramble to ensure more damage doesn't come at the hands of suspected Russian operatives.

This Thursday, CISA published an “emergency directive” ordering civilian agencies potentially affected by the hacking campaign to strengthen their defenses. CISA called the potential exposure of agencies' login credentials an “unacceptable risk to agencies.”

CNN has requested comment from the Russian Embassy in Washington.

The hackers in question are a well-known cyber espionage group that US officials have previously linked to Russia's foreign intelligence service.

This is the latest development in the hacking incident that Microsoft first revealed in January, but it has become more serious as new details emerge. In March, Microsoft revealed that hackers had gained access to some core Microsoft software systems and were using that information to launch subsequent attacks on Microsoft customers.

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Days after Microsoft disclosed the hack in January, another large technology company, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, said the same hackers had breached its cloud email systems. The full scope and exact purpose of the hacking activity is unclear, but experts say the group responsible has a history of large-scale intelligence gathering campaigns in support of the Kremlin.

The same Russian group was behind the infamous hack of the email systems of several US agencies using software made by the US contractor SolarWinds, which was revealed in 2020. Over the course of months, the hackers gained access to the unclassified email accounts of the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, Among other agencies, before the espionage operation was discovered.

Russia denied involvement in this activity.

“We also participate in Blog March 8“As we uncover secrets in our leaked email, we are working with our customers to help them investigate and mitigate,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement to CNN on Thursday. “This includes working with CISA on emergency guidance to provide guidance to government agencies.”

This is the latest foreign hacking campaign targeting US government agencies through Microsoft software.

Microsoft made “a series of avoidable mistakes” that allowed Chinese hackers to breach the tech giant's network and then the email accounts of top US officials last year, including the Commerce Secretary, according to a report. review Of the US government-backed incident released this month.