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Microsoft reveals extent of attacks by Russian hackers on Ukraine allies – and why Estonia is striking exception | World News


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Russian hackers have launched cyber attacks on targets in 42 countries allied with Ukraine since Vladimir Putin’s war began, Microsoft says.

The technology giant said the hacking attempts were successful 29% of the time, and data was stolen in at least a quarter of the successful network intrusions.

Nearly two-thirds of the targets involved NATO members, and the US was the prime target, it added.

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Poland – the main conduit for military assistance flowing to Ukraine was second, while in the past two months Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Turkey have seen increased targeting.

A striking exception was Estonia, where Microsoft said it had detected no Russian cyber intrusions since Mr Putin launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February.

The company credited Estonia’s adoption of cloud computing, where it is easier to detect intruders.

Microsoft warned that “significant collective defensive weaknesses remain” among some other European governments, without identifying them.

Across the 42 countries, half of the 128 organisations targeted were government agencies and 12% were non-governmental agencies, typically think tanks or humanitarian groups, according to Microsoft’s report.

Other targets included telecommunications, energy, and defence companies.

Microsoft said Ukraine’s cyber defences “have proven stronger” overall than Russia’s capabilities in “waves of destructive cyberattacks”.

Read more:
US cyber chief on Kyiv’s advantage over Russia
US military hackers conducting offensive operations in support of Ukraine

Some Microsoft investors have raised concerns about 'the culture set by top leadership' in the company. Pic: AP
Pic: AP

Moscow’s military hackers have been cautious not to unleash destructive data-destroying worms that could spread outside Ukraine, as the NotPetya virus did in 2017, the report noted.

“During the past month, as the Russian military moved to concentrate its attacks in the Donbas region, the number of destructive attacks has fallen,” it said.

The report also assessed Russian disinformation and propaganda aimed at “undermining western unity and deflecting criticism of Russian military war crimes”.

Microsoft said, using artificial intelligence tools, it estimated “Russian cyber influence operations successfully increased the spread of Russian propaganda after the war began by 216% in Ukraine and 82% in the United States”.


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