Russia was behind 58 percent of all state-backed cyber attacks carried out over the past year against Western targets, according to to search New by Microsoft.
Notable targets reportedly included government agencies and think tanks in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ukraine, as well as European NATO members.
The disruptive effectiveness of the SolarWinds hack also boosted the success rate of Russian state-backed hackers to 32 percent in the year ending June 30, compared to 21 percent in the previous 12 months.
China was responsible for less than one in 10 state-backed hacking attempts discovered by Microsoft, Microsoft said in its second annual Digital Defense Report, covering July 2020 to June 2021. But 44 percent of the time, it succeeded in penetrating the targeted networks.
While Russia’s state-sponsored hacking is well known. Microsoft’s report provides unusually specific details of how it has been countered by other enemies of the United States.
The report also cited ransomware attacks as a dangerous and growing epidemic. The United States was the most targeted country. It was hit by more than three times as many attacks as the next most targeted country.
Ransomware attacks are criminal and financially motivated. It usually requires an amount of cryptocurrency in exchange for returning access to the computer system.
By contrast, state-backed hacking is primarily about intelligence gathering—whether for national security, commercial advantage, or strategy—and thus governments generally tolerate it.
The report, by Microsoft, which works closely with government agencies in Washington, does not address US government hacking. AndThe SolarWinds hack was an embarrassment to the US government. However, some lawmakers in Washington have demanded some form of retaliation.
President Joe Biden had a hard time andHe issued vague warnings to President Vladimir Putin to get him to crack down on ransomware criminals. But several of the administration’s top cybersecurity officials said they had seen no evidence of this.
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Microsoft alerts only reflect what you’ve been able to discover
Kristen Goodwin, who heads Microsoft’s digital security unit, which focuses on nation-state actors, said the overall nationwide success rate of hacking is between 10 and 20 percent.
The company explained China’s geopolitical goals in its recent cyber espionage are noteworthy, including targeting foreign ministries in Central and South American countries where it is making investments in BRI infrastructure and universities in Taiwan and Hong Kong where resistance to Beijing’s regional ambitions is strong.
The findings also refute the argument that the interests of Chinese cyber spies are limited to intellectual property theft. AndRussia’s hacking attempts rose from 52 percent in 2019-2020 as a share of global hacking attacks discovered by the nation-state media service Microsoft uses to alert its customers.
For the year ending June 30, North Korea ranked second as a country of origin, with 23 percent. That compares with less than 11 percent previously.
China fell to 8 percent from 12 percent. But the size of the trial and its effectiveness are two different things. while North Korea’s failure rate to target individuals via emails was 94 percent last year.
The company said 4 percent of all state-backed hacking was related to targeted critical infrastructure. And Russia’s customers were less interested in it than Chinese or Iranian Internet customers.
After the SolarWinds hack was discovered in December, the Russians returned to focus on government agencies involved in foreign policy, defense and national security. Followed by think tanks and then health care.
They targeted organizations that develop and test coronavirus vaccines and treatments in the United States, Australia, Canada, India and Japan.
Microsoft said the greater effectiveness of Russian government hackers could herald more high-impact hacks in the coming year.
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