HT TECH wants to start sending you push notifications. Click allow to subscribe

Microsoft faces heat from US Congress over cybersecurity

US Congress questions Microsoft over avoidable errors allowing Chinese hacking group breach senior officials' emails. Microsoft accepts responsibility and pledges cybersecurity improvements.

By: AFP
Updated on: Jun 14 2024, 19:03 IST
Microsoft faces US Congress inquiry on breach by Chinese hackers (unsplash)

Members of US Congress on Thursday pressed Microsoft to explain a "cascade of avoidable errors" that allowed a Chinese hacking group to breach emails of senior US officials.

Microsoft President Brad Smith spent more than three hours answering questions from members of the House Committee on Homeland Security in Washington, assuring them cybersecurity is being woven more deeply into the technology company's culture.

You may be interested in

Mobiles Tablets Laptops
4% OFF
Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
  • Titanium Black
  • 12 GB RAM
  • 256 GB Storage
₹129,999₹134,999
Buy now
Vivo X100 Pro 5G
  • Asteroid Black
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 512 GB Storage
₹89,999
Check details
7% OFF
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
  • Black Titanium
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 256 GB Storage
₹148,900₹159,900
Buy now
17% OFF
Xiaomi 14 Ultra
  • Black
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 512 GB Storage
₹99,999₹119,999
Buy now
Acer Aspire 3 A315 24 NX KDESI 004 Laptop
  • Silver
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 512 GB SSD
₹31,700
Check details
Acer Swift Go SFG14 41 NX KG3SI 002 Laptop
  • Pure Silver
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 512 GB SSD
₹54,990
Check details
Acer Aspire 5 A515 57G Laptop Core I5 12th Gen 16 GB 512 GB SSD Windows 11 UN K9TSI 002
  • Gray
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 512 GB SSD
₹54,499
Check details
Infinix INBook X1 Slim XL21 Laptop
  • Starfall Grey
  • 8 GB RAM
  • 256 GB SSD
₹30,990
Check details
Honor Pad X9
  • Gray
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 128 GB Storage
₹14,999
Check details
33% OFF
Xiaomi Pad 6
  • Mist Blue
  • 6 GB RAM
  • 128 GB Storage
₹26,999₹39,999
Buy now
53% OFF
Lenovo Tab M10 5G
  • Abyss Blue
  • 6 GB RAM
  • 128 GB Storage
₹21,999₹47,000
Buy now
36% OFF
Realme Pad 2
  • Imagination Grey
  • 6 GB RAM
  • 128 GB Storage
₹18,699₹28,999
Buy now

"Microsoft accepts responsibility for each and every one of the issues cited" in a scathing US government report about the breach "without equivocation or hesitation," Smith told the committee.

Also read: Looking for a smartphone? To check mobile finder click here.

The Cyber Safety Review Board (CSRB), led by the US Department of Homeland Security, conducted a seven-month investigation into the incident last year that involved the China-affiliated cyberespionage actor Storm-0558.

"Microsoft has an enormous footprint in both government and critical infrastructure networks," US congressman and committee member Bennie Thompson said to Smith as the hearing opened.

"It is our shared interest that the security issues raised by the (report) be addressed quickly."

The operation, which was first discovered by the US State Department in June 2023, included hacks on the official and personal mailboxes of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns.

Microsoft's core business is to provide cloud computing services, such as Azure or Office360, that host sensitive data and power business and government operations across major sectors of the economy.

The report criticized a Microsoft corporate culture that was "at odds with... the level of trust customers place in the company."

The review identified a series of operational and strategic decisions by Microsoft that opened the door to the breach, including the failure to identify a new employee's compromised laptop following a corporate acquisition in 2021.

It also found that Microsoft fell short of safety standards seen at competing cloud companies, including Google, Amazon and Oracle.

"The Board finds that this intrusion was preventable and should never have occurred," the review said, pinpointing "the cascade of Microsoft's avoidable errors that allowed this intrusion to succeed."

- 'Lasting change' -

The report also recommended that Microsoft develop and publicly release a plan with timelines to enact wide-ranging security reforms across its products and practices.

"The real challenge is how you achieve effective lasting cultural change," Smith said, noting Microsoft has nearly 226,000 employees.

Smith said Microsoft has the equivalent of 34,000 engineers working full time on answering the security shortcomings in "the largest engineering project focused on cybersecurity in the history of digital technology."

Microsoft's board on Wednesday approved a change that will tie cybersecurity accomplishments with annual bonuses for senior executives and make it part of every employee's annual review, according to Smith.

Microsoft detects some 300 million cyberattacks on its customers daily, with most of those coming from China, Iran, Korea, Russia, or ransomware operations, Smith told the committee.

"We're dealing with four formidable foes in China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, and they are getting better," Smith said.

"We should expect them to work together; they're waging attacks at an extraordinary rate."

While it is inevitable that adversaries will use artificial intelligence for increasingly sophisticated attacks, the technology is already being used to strengthen cyber defenses, Smith added.

One more thing! We are now on WhatsApp Channels! Follow us there so you never miss any updates from the world of technology. ‎To follow the HT Tech channel on WhatsApp, click here to join now!

Catch all the Latest Tech News, Mobile News, Laptop News, Gaming news, Wearables News , How To News, also keep up with us on ,Twitter, Facebook, , and Instagram. For our latest videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

First Published Date: 14 Jun, 19:03 IST
Tags:
NEXT ARTICLE BEGINS