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Chinese hackers breached government email accounts, Microsoft says

2023-07-12 18:18 by
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Microsoft disclosed in a blog post Tuesday night that a China-based hacking group gained access to an unspecified number of email accounts across approximately 25 organizations. Many of the accounts affected are tied to government agencies and individuals likely associated with those agencies, Microsoft said.

The full scope of the hack is being investigated, but US officials and Microsoft have been quietly scrambling in recent weeks to assess the impact of the hack, which targeted unclassified email systems, and contain the fallout.

The federal agency where the Chinese hackers were first detected was the State Department, a person familiar with the matter told CNN. The State Department then reported the suspicious activity to Microsoft, the person said.

The sophistication of the attack and its targeted nature suggest that the Chinese hacking group was either part of Beijing's intelligence service or working for it.

"We assess this adversary is focused on espionage, such as gaining access to email systems for intelligence collection," Charlie Bell, a Microsoft executive vice president, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday night.

The hacks started May 15 and went undetected until June 16. The perpetrators were primarily focused on gaining access to email accounts and no longer have that access, Microsoft said. The hackers were able to view victims' emails, and appeared to only target a handful of specific people.

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