Microsoft claims Russia-backed group attacked its corporate system

IT Major Microsoft on Friday (January 19, 2024) said its corporate system was attacked by a Russian state-sponsored group.

Microsoft claims its corporate system was attacked by Russian state-sponsored group. Photo Courtesy: Tadas Sar/Unsplash

In a blog post, the company said: “The Microsoft security team detected a nation-state attack on our corporate systems on January 12, 2024, and immediately activated our response process to investigate, disrupt malicious activity, mitigate the attack, and deny the threat actor further access.”

Microsoft has identified the threat actor as Midnight Blizzard, the Russian state-sponsored actor also known as Nobelium.

“As part of our ongoing commitment to responsible transparency as recently affirmed in our Secure Future Initiative (SFI), we are sharing this update,” the blog said.

Microsoft said in November last year the group used a password spray attack to compromise a legacy non-production test tenant account and gain a foothold, and then used the account’s permissions to access a very small percentage of Microsoft corporate email accounts, including members of our senior leadership team and employees in our cybersecurity, legal, and other functions, and exfiltrated some emails and attached documents.

“The investigation indicates they were initially targeting email accounts for information related to Midnight Blizzard itself. We are in the process of notifying employees whose email was accessed,” the company said in its blog.

“The attack was not the result of a vulnerability in Microsoft products or services. To date, there is no evidence that the threat actor had any access to customer environments, production systems, source code, or AI systems. We will notify customers if any action is required,” the blog post said.

The company said the attack highlights the continued risk posed to all organisations from well-resourced nation-state threat actors like Midnight Blizzard.