China-based government hackers have exploited a bug in Microsoft Corp’s e-mail server software to target US organizations, the company said on Tuesday.
Microsoft said that a “highly skilled and sophisticated” state-sponsored group operating from China has been trying to steal information from a number of targets in the US, including universities, defense contractors, law firms and infectious-disease researchers.
Microsoft has released security upgrades to fix the vulnerabilities to its Exchange Server software, which is used for work e-mail and calendar services, mostly for larger organizations that have their own in-person e-mail servers, the company said.
Photo: Swayne B. Hall, AP
It does not affect personal e-mail accounts or Microsoft’s cloud-based services, it added.
The hacking group it calls Hafnium was able to trick Exchange servers into allowing it to gain access, Microsoft said.
The hackers then masqueraded as someone who should have access and created a way to control the server remotely so that they could steal data from an organization’s network, it added.
Microsoft said that the group is based in China, but operates from leased virtual private servers in the US, which helps it avoid detection.
The company declined to name any specific targets or say how many organizations were affected.
Reston, Virginia-based cybersecurity company Volexity Government Solutions LLC, which Microsoft credits for helping to detect the intrusions, said that its network security monitoring service began investigating a suspiciously large data transfer in late January.
“They’re just downloading e-mail, literally going to town,” Volexity president Steven Adair said, adding that the targets included defense contractors, think tanks, non-governmental organizations, and international aid and development organizations.
Adair said that he is concerned that the hackers might accelerate their activity in the coming days before organizations are able to install Microsoft’s security upgrades.
“As bad as it is now, I think it’s about to get a lot worse,” he said. “This gives them a limited amount of opportunity to go and exploit something. The patch isn’t going to fix that if they left their backdoor behind.”
SUPPLY HICCUPS: Poor manufacturing yields at Apple’s overseas suppliers have caused at least one maker of its new MiniLED displays to pause production, sources said The next-generation display destined to be a highlight of Apple Inc’s upcoming top-tier iPad Pro is facing production issues that could lead to short initial supplies of the new device, people familiar with the matter said. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant plans to showcase a new MiniLED display technology in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro set to be announced as early as the second half of this month. However, the firm’s overseas suppliers are dealing with poor manufacturing yields, the people who asked not to be named discussing sensitive matters said. At least one of the MiniLED makers has had to pause production as
RETAIL BANKING EXIT: Clients are concerned whether their rights would be protected, while employees were caught by surprise as the bank had just upgraded its services Citibank Taiwan Ltd (花旗台灣) yesterday said that credit card clients could continue using their cards as operations would continue normally until it sells its consumer banking business. As of February, the bank had 2.86 million credit cards in circulation in Taiwan, of which 2.17 million had been used in the past six months, ranking it sixth among all banks, data from the Financial Supervisory Commission showed. Credit card spending by Citibank clients totaled NT$15.66 billion (US$552.6 million) in February, also ranking sixth among banks in Taiwan. Citibank was the only foreign bank that made it into the top six. Customers should not
END OF AN ERA: The Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets have served the airline well, but new-generation aircraft are more fuel-efficient, CAL chairman Hsieh Shih-chien said China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 華航) yesterday bid farewell to its last four Boeing 747-400 planes, ending the era of the “Queen of the Skies” at the airline. CAL has since 1975 operated a total of 29 747 series aircraft manufactured by Boeing Co. In 1990, it started receiving delivery of 19 747-400 jumbo jets, with the last one, the B-18215, delivered in 2005, it said. The B-18215 was the last of the passenger model produced by Boeing, making the 16-year-old aircraft the world’s youngest 747-400, CAL chairman Hsieh Shih-chien (謝世謙) told an event to bid farewell to the planes at Taiwan Taoyuan
DIVERSE SUPPLY: TSMC chairman Mark Liu said the firm’s US$12 billion investment in Arizona would succeed with continued bipartisan support from the US Congress Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s largest contract chipmaker, on Monday took part in a virtual White House summit about a global semiconductor shortage and Washington’s plans to strengthen US supply chains. The Hsinchu-based company was among 19 firms, including fellow chipmakers Samsung Electronics Co, GlobalFoundries Inc and Intel Corp, that attended the summit hosted by US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, US National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. US President Joe Biden told executives in the meeting that there is bipartisan support in the US Congress for efforts to strengthen the US