News: Ransom-seeking hackers are taking advantage of Microsoft flaw: expert.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Ransom hackers have begun to exploit a recently revealed flaw in Microsoft’s widespread mail server software, a researcher said late Wednesday – a serious escalation that could indicate a widespread digital disruption.
The disclosure took place on Twitter by Phillip Misner, Microsoft Corp. security program manager, is the realization of concerns that have been rising in the security community for days.
Since March 2nd, when Microsoft announced the discovery of serious vulnerabilities in its Exchange software, experts have warned that it was only a matter of time before gangs of ransomware began to take down businesses on the Internet.
Misner didn’t respond immediately to follow-up messages, and Microsoft didn’t return emails looking for comments. The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation also did not respond immediately.
Although the security holes announced by Microsoft have now been fixed, companies around the world have not been able to patch their software so that it is open for use. According to official information, up to 60,000 networks are at risk in Germany alone.
The fixes are free, but experts attribute the slow pace of many customers’ updates in part to the complexity of the Exchange architecture.
All types of hackers have started to exploit the loopholes – a security firm recently counted 10 separate hacking groups taking advantage of the bugs – but ransomware operators are among the most feared.
These groups lock users out of their devices and data unless the victims spit out large chunks of the digital currency. You may now have access to “a large number of vulnerable systems,” said Brett Callow of Canadian cybersecurity firm Emsisoft.
He said more humble companies – many of whom are unable or unable to update their software – could be particularly hard hit by the latest variant of the ransomware.
“This is a potentially serious risk for small businesses,” he said.
Reporting by Raphael Satter. Adaptation by Gerry Doyle
Original Source © Reuters