Microsoft Snaps on North Korean Hackers – Thallium, Seizes Web Domains
Acting against cyberattacks, Microsoft has gained permission from the Federal Court to take control of 50 domains handled by North Korean hackers dubbed Thallium. The hackers are said to adopt fraudulent measures to trick online users of Microsoft brands and trademarks.
The firm has legally restricted 50 internet domains, which set up a “command and control infrastructure” in order to hack users accounts for almost a decade. The move is another way of Microsoft to protect users. The software firm followed similar steps against cyberattack groups in China, Russia and Iran too.
Sources claim that Thallium planned to aim mainly government and private sector employees and organisations. As per Microsoft, the attackers included, “organisations and individuals that worked on nuclear non-proliferation issues, think-tanks… [and] members of organisations that attempt to maintain world peace.”
A report revealed recently highlighted the glitches prevalent in Microsoft Office products. In Q3 2019, nearly 73 percent of cyber exploits were performed in MS Office products.
Microsoft claims that the people behind the attacks and their location was “generally unknown” but has been associated to a North Korean hacking group or groups. The details of the attack point that hackers used the technique of spear-phising. This technique is used to trick individual email users into clicking on fake links that help an attacker to steal sign-in credentials or plant-malware to take over a user’s computer.
For fooling users, Thallium used registered domains with realistic names to hint their association with well-known firms like Microsoft, Yahoo and Google. As said by the Vice President for customer security and trust, Tom Burt, “This network was used to target victims and then compromise their online accounts, infect their computers, compromise the security of their networks and steal sensitive information.”
Meanwhile, aiming to encourage customers into using Windows 10, Microsoft is rolling out annoying full-screen pop-up notifications to Windows 7 users from mid-January. Starting January 14, the software firm will no longer provide any technical support, software updates or security updates to Windows 7 users.
Users will get a notification urging them to upgrade to Windows 10 and advising them to buy a new PC for doing so. The advice has been running as a small pop-up reminder since April, now the update will be sized to fit full screen, thereby making it harder to be ignored. As per the company, the update will read, “Your Windows 7 PC is out of support.”
Sources claim that the message will appear on Starter, Home Premium, Home Basic, Professional and Ultimate editions of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 but will not appear on domain-joined PCs or PCs in kiosk mode.
Even though Microsoft is trying to deal with cyberattack issues (like Thallium, Barium and Strontium), the glitches in its Office software and its support withdrawal to Windows 7 users is sure to raise some questions. Lack of proper support might even force certain users to opt for other technology companies.
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