According to Microsoft, the flaw in Windows, which Google has recently exposed, is being exploited by a Russian-linked hacking group. They have many names, among which are Strontium, Fancy Bear or APT 28. Specialists believe that they have conducted numerous spear phishing attacks.
What is this flaw?
This Windows flaw allows hackers to breach computer networks easily. This problem was unknown to many until Google discovered and made it public on October 31, after announcing Microsoft ten days earlier. People are still waiting for Microsoft to launch a security patch, in order to fix the problem.
But it seems like now, Microsoft has chosen to reveal more details about the flaw and even promised to release a patch on November 8. This will be the exact date of the presidential election in the U.S. Coincidence? Google has said that they revealed the flaw in order to protect users and to warn them. Hackers could exploit the flaw and enter many systems, with ease. Even so, specialists have harshly criticized them for this action. Microsoft has called Google’s decision “disappointing”.
Strontium are to blame
Microsoft is saying that those hackers used the vulnerability flaw to send messages or spear phishing emails to people, tricking them into revealing personal data or into unwillingly install malware on their computers. The company said that the Strontium hacker group is the main one who exploited this issue. But they are not new faces, as specialists have previously linked the group to the Russian government or their foreign intelligence agency.
The U.S. keeps accusing Russia
This is not the first time the United States have accused Russia of hacking into their systems. Also, of doing this in order to interfere with the presidential election. And while the relationship between Russia and the United States are sour right now, this cannot mean anything good for the future. The U.S have linked Russian hackers to the Yahoo massive data breach from a few weeks ago, as well as to an attempted attack on the Moscow bureau of the New York times.
Google’s policy is to give companies some time (60 days) to deal with any problems they may have, before Google makes them public. For more serious, this period of time is smaller. This is what happened in Microsoft’s case. Google wanted to make sure that they warn users about possible hacker interferences. Also, this is done in order to push manufacturers to solve the problem quicker, by releasing patches or anything necessary. This hacking group usually targets government agencies, diplomatic institutions, and military organizations.
Upgrade to Windows 10
Microsoft is encouraging all users to switch to Windows 10 if they are using other systems right now. The reason for this is the fact that 10 has advanced security and protection. Moreover, users who already have Windows 10 will need to activate the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection. This will enable them to see if there is any attack by Strontium on their computers.
It looks like this is one more arrow shot in Russia’s direction by the United States. With this tense situation going on, we might need to prepare for a cyber war.
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