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Microsoft being hacked for a week by “Anonymous Sultan”

Earlier this month, a range of Microsoft services, including the widely used email program Outlook, the cloud storage service OneDrive, and the Azure cloud platform, experienced significant and intermittent outages.

The attack, initially claimed by a hacker group calling itself “Anonymous Sudan,” has now been confirmed by Microsoft.

According to the Associated Press

on the 5th of this month, Microsoft 365 Office faced a serious outage, with over 18,000 error reports registered after 11:00 a.m. ET.

Microsoft acknowledged the impact on that day, stating that Outlook, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for business were all affected. The attack persisted for a week, and on the 9th, Microsoft confirmed that even its Azure cloud platform had been targeted.

In a recent post, Microsoft explained that the attacks had caused temporary disruptions to some services. The hackers, focused on “sabotage and publicity,” may have operated from different locations worldwide, utilizing rented cloud facilities and private virtual networks.

The attackers employed an intensive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) technique, often referred to as a “BotNet,” to overwhelm Microsoft servers.

Microsoft has assured users that no evidence suggests any compromise or leakage of customer data. However, the company has not provided further details regarding the attack.

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The hackers have been labeled Storm-1359, indicating their affiliation as an organization without confirmed criminal ties.

Information security analyst Alexander Leslie from Recorded Future expressed skepticism about the hacker group’s claimed origin in Sudan.

Leslie believes that the organization collaborates closely with pro-Russian hacker groups such as “Killnet,” which disseminate pro-Russian propaganda and false news. Groups like Killnet have previously conducted DDoS attacks on Ukrainian government websites and other targets.

Jake Williams, a security researcher from the National Security Agency (NSA), stated that he was unaware of the scale of the attack on Outlook and that without more information from Microsoft, it is difficult to measure the full impact.

Williams emphasized the significance of Microsoft’s reluctance to provide an objective assessment of the customer impact, suggesting it could indicate the severity of the attack.

Edward Amoroso, CEO of TAG Cyber and a professor at New York University, highlighted the persistent challenge of combating DDoS attacks. He recommended decentralizing services at scale, such as through the use of content delivery networks (CDNs), as the best defense against such attacks.

As Microsoft works to restore normalcy to its affected services, the incident underscores the ongoing need for robust cybersecurity measures to protect against increasingly sophisticated cyber threats.

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