(CTN News) – According to Microsoft and U.S. officials, Chinese hackers linked to the Chinese government have secretly accessed email accounts at approximately 25 organizations since May.
An attack on federal government accounts was detected “fairly quickly” and no further attacks were detected, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America”.
According to statements released by the U.S. State and Commerce Departments, they were among the agencies affected by the incident.
The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials familiar with the matter confirmed that Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo’s email account has also been hacked.
As far as we know, Raimondo is the only Cabinet-level official whose account has been breached.
An official from the U.S. government told reporters that comparing the SolarWinds compromise, which was revealed in late 2020 and blamed on Russian spies, was unfair.
“This intrusion should not be compared with SolarWinds,” the official stated, describing the recently discovered campaign as “much narrower in scope.”.
According to the U.S. official, he was not able to comment on Microsoft’s decision to attribute the hack to China.
Microsoft reported that the hacking group Storm-0558 forged digital authentication tokens to access webmail accounts on its Outlook service. The activity was reported by Microsoft to have begun in May.
According to Microsoft, “as with any observed activity by nation-state actors, we have contacted all targeted or compromised organizations directly via their tenant administrators and provided them with valuable information to assist them in investigating and responding.”
According to Microsoft, the hacking group involved primarily targets organizations in Western Europe, but did not identify the organizations or governments affected.
According to the Chinese Embassy in London, the accusation is “disinformation,” and the U.S. government is “the world’s biggest hacking empire and global cyber thief.” China routinely denies involvement in hacking operations regardless of available evidence.
According to Adam Hodge, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, an intrusion into Microsoft’s cloud security “affected unclassified systems,” without providing any further details.
Immediately, officials contacted Microsoft in order to identify the source and vulnerability of the attack.
State Department officials “detected anomalous activity” and “took immediate steps to secure our systems,” a spokesperson said. Following Microsoft’s notification of a compromise, the Commerce Department took “immediate action.”.
Cybersecurity experts have stated that recently discovered hacking activity illustrates how Chinese groups are improving their cyber capabilities.
“Chinese cyber espionage has evolved from the smash-and-grab tactics we are all familiar with,” said John Hultquist, chief analyst for Mandiant, an American cybersecurity company.