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Hackers Attack Microsoft Exchange Email Servers

Hackers exploiting bug in Microsoft email servers

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Several state-sponsored hacking groups are exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange email servers. Pixabay

Several state-sponsored hacking groups are exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange email servers that the tech giant patched in February, a cyber security firm has revealed. This is a breaking news.

London-based Volexity saw this vulnerability — CVE-2020-0688 — exploited in the wild by advanced persistent threat (APT) actors.

The vulnerability was discovered by an anonymous security researcher and reported to Microsoft by way of Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative.

“Two weeks after the security updates were released, the Zero Day Initiative published a blog post providing more details on the vulnerability. The post made it clear that an attacker could exploit a vulnerable Exchange server if the three criteria are not met,” said the Volexity Threat Research team.

“The Exchange Server had not been patched since February 11, 2020; The Exchange Control Panel (ECP) interface was accessible to the attacker and the attacker has a working credential that allows them to access the Exchange Control Panel in order to collect the ViewState Key,” the security researchers noted.

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The vulnerability was discovered by an anonymous security researcher and reported to Microsoft by way of Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative. Pixabay

Volexity has observed multiple APT actors exploiting or attempting to exploit on-premise Exchange servers. In some cases, the attackers appear to have been waiting for an opportunity to strike with credentials that had otherwise been of no use.

Many organisations employ two-factor authentication (2FA) to protect their VPN, e-mail, etc., limiting what an attacker can do with a compromised password.

“This vulnerability gives attackers the ability to gain access to a significant asset within an organization with a simple user credential or old service account,” said security researchers.

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This issue further underscores why changing passwords periodically is a good best practice, regardless of security measures like 2FA.

Microsoft was yet to react to the Volexity report. (IANS)

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Know About Where Do Employees Actually Gaze At During Video Calls

For the study, published in the journal Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, the team compared fixation behaviour in 173 participants under two conditions

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The phenomenon known as "gaze cueing," a powerful signal for orienting attention, is a mechanism that likely plays a role in the developmentally and socially important wonder of "shared" or "joint" attention where a number of people attend to the same object or location. Pixabay

 As more and more people use video conferencing tools to stay connected in social distancing times, neuroscientists from Florida Atlantic University have found that a person’s gaze is altered during tele-communication if they think that the person on the other end of the conversation can see them.

The phenomenon known as “gaze cueing,” a powerful signal for orienting attention, is a mechanism that likely plays a role in the developmentally and socially important wonder of “shared” or “joint” attention where a number of people attend to the same object or location.

“Because gaze direction conveys so much socially relevant information, one’s own gaze behaviour is likely to be affected by whether one’s eyes are visible to a speaker,” said Elan Barenholtz, associate professor of psychology. For example, people may intend to signal that they are paying more attention to a speaker by fixating their face or eyes during a conversation.

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“Conversely, extended eye contact also can be perceived as aggressive and therefore noticing one’s eyes could lead to reduced direct fixation of another’s face or eyes. Indeed, people engage in avoidant eye movements by periodically breaking and reforming eye contact during conversations,” explained Barenholtz.

People are very sensitive to the gaze direction of others and even two-day-old infants prefer faces where the eyes are looking directly back at them. Social distancing across the globe due to coronavirus (COVID-19) has created the need to conduct business “virtually” using Skype, web conferencing, FaceTime and any other means available.

For the study, published in the journal Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, the team compared fixation behaviour in 173 participants under two conditions: one in which the participants believed they were engaging in a real-time interaction and one in which they knew they were watching a pre-recorded

The researchers wanted to know if face fixation would increase in the real-time condition based on the social expectation of facing one’s speaker in order to get attention or if it would lead to greater face avoidance, based on social norms as well as the cognitive demands of encoding the conversation.

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As more and more people use video conferencing tools to stay connected in social distancing times, neuroscientists from Florida Atlantic University have found that a person’s gaze is altered during tele-communication if they think that the person on the other end of the conversation can see them. Pixabay

Results showed that participants fixated on the whole face in the real-time condition and significantly less in the pre-recorded condition. In the pre-recorded condition, time spent fixating on the mouth was significantly greater compared to the real-time condition. There were no significant differences in time spent fixating on the eyes between the real-time and the pre-recorded conditions. To simulate a live interaction, the researchers convinced participants that they were engaging in a real-time, two-way video interaction (it was actually pre-recorded).

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When the face was fixated, attention was directed toward the mouth for the greater percentage of time in the pre-recorded condition versus the real-time condition. “Given that encoding and memory have been found to be optimized by fixating the mouth, which was reduced overall in the real-time condition, this suggests that people do not fully optimize for speech encoding in a live interaction,” the authors wrote. (IANS)