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Hackers Attack Microsoft

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First Posted: Feb 23, 2013 01:05 PM EST
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) researchers use advanced modeling and simulation equipment as they work on the DHS Control Systems Security Program.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) researchers use advanced modeling and simulation equipment as they work on the DHS Control Systems Security Program. Credit:Reuters

There's a massive hacking epidemic spreading through the United States, and Microsoft has now added itself to the laundry list of victims.

On Friday evening, Microsoft joined the ever-growing list of companies, media institutions, social networks, and government organizations that have had their networks compromised by hackers.

The company broke the news on its blog, saying that it experienced a security breach similar to those suffered by Facebook and Apple.

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"During our investigation, we found a small number of computers, including some in our Mac business unit, that were infected by malicious software using techniques similar to those documented by other organizations," said Microsoft's Matt Thomlinson, general manager of Trustworthy Computing Security.

Thomlinson also noted that it doesn't think any consumer data was stolen, although there's an ongoing investigation into the matter.

"This type of cyberattack is no surprise to Microsoft and other companies that must grapple with determined and persistent adversaries," noted Thomlinson. "We continually re-evaluate our security posture and deploy additional people, processes, and technologies as necessary to help prevent future unauthorized access to our networks."

Earlier in the week, Apple said it had been hacked by the same group that attacked Facebook the week before.

The hacks were one of two problems Microsoft suffered on Friday. Windows Azure, which supplies power for many online services and web sites, went offline Friday. Microsoft representatives told the Wall Street Journal that the outage was due to expired security certification, but didn't explain how or why said certification had ended. Apparently Xbox Live users were one group affected by the outage.

On Thursday, customer service software provider Zendesk Security revealed that it had been the target of hackers, and that a number of Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest users had their contact information stolen. Email addresses as well as phone numbers were lifted, although passwords remained safe.

The origins of the hackers are unknown at this point, though a large chunk of February's attacks have been linked back to China. Newspapers like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post all reported that Chinese hackers infiltrated their databases, and a recent National Intelligence Estimate revealed a sustained, multi-year attack on the United States via China.

In order to improve safeguards against future attacks, President Obama issued an executive order intended to protect computer networks across the country. The Pentagon, meanwhile, has decided to expand its Cyber Command personnel to improve security.

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