Hackers have been hitting a different part of the supply chain than in 2020 defaults: companies that buy and distribute software and manage cloud computing services. Microsoft did not name the victim companies or identify the ultimate targets of the alleged Russian spies.
“This recent activity is another indicator that Russia is trying to gain systematic long-term access to various points in the technology supply chain and establish a mechanism to monitor – now or in the future – targets of interest to the Russian government.” said Tom Burt, Microsoft’s corporate vice president, customer safety and trust.
According to Microsoft, hackers have tried to break into more than 140 software vendors and other technology companies using common techniques such as phishing. The ultimate goal is to “impersonate an organization’s trusted technology partner to access its customers downstream,” Burt said.
It is the latest vision of a Russian group that in the last two years has confused the defenses of the US government and companies.
Hackers are best known for using manipulated software manufactured by federal contractor SolarWinds to breach at least nine U.S. agencies in an activity that came to light in December 2020. The attackers were spotted for months on email networks unclassified from the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and others.
The Biden administration in April attributed the espionage campaign to Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, and criticized Moscow for exposing thousands of SolarWinds customers to malicious code. Moscow has denied their involvement.
– Jordan Valinsky of CNN Business contributed to this report
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