Microsoft Admits Hackers Accessed Some Accounts for Months

Updated on: 17 April 2019
Updated on: 17 April 2019

Right after the immense hacking breach that took place in January which consisted of 773 million hacked emails, Microsoft is now coming into the light with yet another breach. This time, one that affects their web-based email services.

They’ve confirmed to TechCrunch that some of the email accounts managed by Microsoft were compromised. The people who had the misfortune to be the targets of this breach had their accounts suspended momentarily by Microsoft, in an attempt to stop the further compromise of any data.

1. Microsoft comments on the issue

The company has sent TechCrunch an email detailing the breach, how and why it happened:

“Microsoft recently became aware of an issue involving unauthorized access to some customers’ web-based email accounts by cybercriminals. We addressed this scheme by disabling the compromised credentials to the limited set of targeted accounts, while also blocking the perpetrators’ access. A limited number of consumer accounts were impacted, and we have notified all impacted customers. Out of an abundance of caution, we also increased detection and monitoring to further protect affected accounts.”

Furthermore, according to the affected users, the hackers were able to access their usernames, passwords, other emails and the other email addresses that the user had in their list.

They weren’t able to access the contents of the emails themselves, though, nor could they uncover the account passwords either. The end-point was the same – Microsoft suggested the affected users to change their passwords, just to be sure.

Apparently, the breach started from one of the customer support agents who had his log-in credentials stolen. As soon as Microsoft spotted the intrusion, they isolated and disabled those credentials, but there’s no telling what the hackers might have accessed in the meantime.

They could have stolen crucial data connected to users, identifiable information, other credentials, which might lead to massive leaks and data breaches in the future. Microsoft said that there might be a rush of phishing emails sent to affected users and not only.

Microsoft has not been clear on the identity of the customer support agent from where the breach began. Whether he was working for them or not, or how exactly were his credentials compromised, none of this is yet known.

Only individual users were affected though. No enterprise customers had their email breached, says TechCrunch. Which can only be a relief, considering the fact that it was bound to be a much more extensive and dangerous event if the massive databases of a company would have been compromised. We’re talking about data affecting thousands, tens of thousands of customers and users.

Fortunately, there’s a way you can find out if your email address has been breached or if it was ever in any danger. Just visit the Have I Been Pwned website and take a look. As of recently, Troy Hunt, the one managing this website, has uploaded the so-called Collection #1, the data-set containing the 773 million breached emails.

However, this hacking breach didn’t only extend to Microsoft and its email services. It started on the 1st of January and lasted until the 28th of March. These were almost 3 months during which the hackers had access to these emails.

2. Not even the FBI is safe

At the same time, TechCrunch has also been informed that three websites belonging to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy Association (FBINAA) have been breached by three hackers.

They downloaded classified contents from these websites, credentials, confidential and personally-identifiable information, which they will upload on the internet for everyone to see.

The FBINAA has officially said that they are currently looking into the breach, and that they are working with other federal agencies to prevent any other data being compromised.

The exposed data consisted of approximately 4000 unique records of federal officials. They were stolen from three of the various chapter websites that the FBINAA uses for promotional purposes in Quantico, NA. And this isn’t an isolated incident either.

TechCrunch managed to contact one of the hackers and what he revealed was mind-boggling – the three hackers hacked approximately 1000 websites in total, a couple of them being tied to government activities. Now, they would try to make sense of all the data they’ve acquired so they can expose it online.

Instead of selling them on the Dark Web marketplace as others did, the three hackers would give away the 4000 records for free, in an attempt to legitimize their claims and show the world they mean business. It looks like the massive data breach is going to cause disaster in its wake.

In total, ten hackers have been found to have stolen data or caused cyber-attacks during this time, and it’s quite unlikely that the authorities have uncovered all of the attacks.

They are merciless and aware of their own actions, of the lives they put in danger, but they still continue on. If you have reasons to believe you might be in danger, change your email password, secure your account, and take any precautionary measure.

Written by: Alex Popa

Content writer and technology enthusiast. Alex discovered his love for writing not long ago, one that deepens with each written article. Tech subjects are right up his alley, and as he strives to perfect his craft, even more, his journey through the cyber-world leads to many interesting topics that he approaches with the skill and passion of an avid learner. He’s decided to put his ability to good use and share any digital novelties he comes across.

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