The technology giant’s corporate vice president says a quarter of the recipients were involved in development, human rights and humanitarian work.
Russian hackers behind SolarWinds cyberattack, a huge campaign that saw widespread piracy by several U.S. federal agencies, have launched a new round of attacks targeting “government agencies, think tanks, consultants and non-governmental organizations,” according to Microsoft.
This week’s wave of attacks by the Nobelium group targeted nearly 3,000 email accounts from more than 150 organizations spanning 24 countries, with most of the attack targeting the United States, Tom Burt, technology vice president of the tech giant, wrote in a blog post on Thursday.
It should be noted that the Russian group was able to access an email marketing account used by the State Department’s international aid agency, USAID, from where it was directed to other organizations.
The New York Times reported that the gap seems to be aimed at the type of groups that have revealed Russian attacks on dissidents or that have been vocal about the alleged state intoxication of the prominent figure of the Russian opposition Alexey Navalny.
“At least a quarter of the target organizations were involved in international development, humanitarian work and human rights,” Burt wrote.
“This is one more example of how cyberattacks have become the tool of choice for a growing number of nation states to achieve a wide variety of political goals, with the focus of these Nobel attacks on humanitarian and human rights organizations “.
The U.S. government has explicitly linked SolarWinds’ attack to Russia’s intelligence service, the SVR, and sanctions imposed about 32 Russian entities and diplomats expelled in April. Supposedly, the agency also participated in the hacking of the 2016 National Democratic Convention.
After being detected for months, private security company FireEye identified SolarWinds’ non-compliance in December, underscoring the sophistication of the operation, which was named after a company based in the United States. United States that develops systems management software for use in companies and organizations.
Violations of the Treasury Department, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the Department of Commerce, among other agencies, sparked shockwaves through the U.S. intelligence community.
Microsoft President Brad Smith previously described SolarWinds hacking as “the biggest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen.”
Russia’s intelligence chief has denied responsibility for the breach, but said he was “flattered” by US and UK accusations that Russian foreign intelligence was behind such a sophisticated cyber operation.