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Friday, 18 December 2020 10:25

US nuke agency hit, Microsoft denies it was victim in cyber attacks Featured

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US nuke agency hit, Microsoft denies it was victim in cyber attacks Pixabay

Software behemoth Microsoft has been compromised in the ongoing cyber attacks, Reuters reports. US Government departments, including the Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration, were also reportedly attacked.

But Microsoft president Brad Smith denied his employer had been compromised. "We have no indication of this," he said. Microsoft's communications lead Frank X. Shaw also issued a denial.

Reuters said the Redmond company had been infiltrated through the same software from SolarWinds that has been used to compromise security firm FireEye among others.

The news agency said that the attackers then used Microsoft's own products to spread, but could not put a number on how many agencies or companies were affected.

The attacks on the US nuclear agency were reported by Politico, which said indications of compromise had been found in the networks of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories in New Mexico and Washington, the NNSA's Office of Secure Transportation and the DoE's Richland Field Office.

In a joint statement issued on Thursday, the FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said they had set up a unified group called Cyber Unified Co-ordination Group to co-ordinate a whole-of-government response to the incident.

"The UCG is intended to unify the individual efforts of these agencies as they focus on their separate responsibilities. This is a developing situation, and while we continue to work to understand the full extent of this campaign, we know this compromise has affected networks within the federal government," the three agencies said.

"As the lead for threat response, the FBI is investigating and gathering intelligence in order to attribute, pursue, and disrupt the responsible threat actors.

"The FBI is engaging with known and suspected victims, and information gained through FBI’s efforts will provide indicators to network defenders and intelligence to our government partners to enable further action."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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