Hack­ers pounce on Win­dows crack ex­posed by Google

The Myanmar Times - - World -

MI­CROSOFT has warned that a Win­dows vul­ner­a­bil­ity ex­posed by ri­val Google was be­ing ex­ploited by a hack­ing group sus­pected of cy­ber at­tacks on US po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions.

Hack­ers that Mi­crosoft re­searchers call “Stron­tium” launched a lowvol­ume spear-phish­ing cam­paign aimed at a spe­cific set of peo­ple, Win­dows Group ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent Terry My­er­son said.

Spear-phish­ing in­volves trick­ing peo­ple with per­son­ally crafted email mes­sages that get them to click on links or files booby-trapped with ma­li­cious code that in­fects ma­chines, let­ting hack­ers steal in­for­ma­tion or take con­trol.

The vul­ner­a­bil­ity ex­posed this week let hack­ers slip into com­put­ers through web-brows­ing soft­ware, even­tu­ally in­stalling “back doors” through which they could en­ter as they please.

Stron­tium has been de­scribed as a so­phis­ti­cated hack­ing op­er­a­tion with ties to Rus­sia.

The group is also sus­pected of in­volve­ment in hacks of po­lit­i­cal par­ties in the US pres­i­den­tial race.

In a threat re­port, Mi­crosoft de­scribed Stron­tium as hav­ing the mark­ings of be­ing backed by a na­tion-state.

The US tech­nol­ogy ti­tan took aim at Google, say­ing that a “re­spon­si­ble” mem­ber of the in­dus­try would have put users first and waited for a patch to be ready be­fore mak­ing the vul­ner­a­bil­ity public.

Google coun­tered that it gave Mi­crosoft seven days to fix the flaw, as per its pol­icy re­gard­ing crit­i­cal flaws, be­fore mak­ing it public.

Mi­crosoft de­scribed Stron­tium as a group that usu­ally tar­gets gov­ern­ment agen­cies, diplo­matic in­sti­tu­tions and mil­i­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions, as well as af­fil­i­ated pri­vate sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions such as de­fence con­trac­tors and public pol­icy re­search in­sti­tutes. –

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