Microsoft takes over 42 websites from Chinese hacker group
On Monday, Microsoft received permission from a US judge to take over 42 websites of a Chinese hacking group. Microsoft said the group is using the websites for cyber espionage on governments and organizations in 29 countries, including the United States.
Microsoft has been monitoring the Nickel hacker group since 2016. This group is also known as APT15, KE3CHANG, Playful Dragon, Royal APT and Vixen Panda. The hackers managed to install malware on computers of various organizations through highly sophisticated attacks. For example, they used compressed third-party VPN providers and personal data that was stolen during spear-phishing actions. In this way, the hackers could steal data and look into the computer system.
A judge in Virginia has now ruled that Microsoft may take control of these sites. Microsoft will route traffic from the sites through their own secure servers to protect existing and future victims of the hackers. They also want to learn more about the hackers and their way of working in this way. Although this intervention cannot prevent the hackers from continuing, they have been stripped of part of their infrastructure in this way.
The hackers targeted various organizations, such as government agencies and human rights organizations, in 29 different countries. In addition to the US, countries such as France, Italy and the United Kingdom are also mentioned as victims in the study. For the time being, it seems that the Netherlands has not become a target of the Chinese hacking group. It has not been disclosed which organizations were affected by the hacks.
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