A vulnerability in Microsoft Corp.'s email software has been hacked and more than 20000 U.S. institutions have been broken, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday. The scope of the attack has exceeded all contaminated code previously downloaded from solarwinds Corp, the core target of another massive hacking that came to light in December.
U.S. survey records show that the latest hacker attacks have enabled credit cooperatives, township governments and small businesses to access remote access channels.
Records show that tens of thousands of organizations from Asia and Europe have also been affected.
Although Microsoft released an emergency patch on Tuesday, the hacking continues.
Microsoft initially said the attack was "limited and targeted," but on Friday declined to comment on the scale of the problem. But Microsoft also said it was working with government agencies and security companies to help customers.
In addition, Microsoft added, "affected customers should contact our support team for additional help and resources."
A scan of connected devices showed that as of Friday, only 10% of vulnerable devices had patches installed, though the number is still rising.
Since the installation of the patch does not completely eliminate the vulnerability, U.S. officials are trying to study how to notify all victims and guide them to pursue hackers.
All the affected companies seem to be running the web version of outlook, an e-mail client, on their own machines, rather than relying on cloud providers. The latter, according to the record, could save many big companies and federal agencies.
The federal cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency did not respond to a request for comment.
Earlier on Friday, White House press secretary Jen psaki told reporters that the vulnerabilities currently found in Microsoft's widely used exchange server are "significant" and "may have a profound impact.".
"We are concerned that the ranks of victims are too large," psaki said
Microsoft and people involved in the U.S. response blame an actor with a Chinese government background for the first wave of hacking. But a Chinese government spokesman said China was not behind the hacking.
Since the end of last year, the control attack against several typical spy targets has developed into a wide-ranging campaign last month. This means that unless China changes its strategy, a second organization may already be involved, security officials said.
With the continuous spread of the code used to control the mail server, it is expected that there will be more attacks from other hackers in the future.
Government officials said that at present, hackers only use loopholes to re-enter and move in the infected network, which accounts for a small proportion, perhaps less than one tenth.
"Hundreds of people are using them as fast as they can, stealing data and installing other methods to return later," he said
The initial attack route was discovered by Cheng Da Tsai, a well-known Internet researcher in Taiwan, China. Cai said he reported the vulnerability to Microsoft in January. He said in a blog post that he was investigating whether the information was leaked.
He did not respond to requests for further comment.
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