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US Court Grants Microsoft Control of 99 Hacking Websites

Websites registered and used by Phosphorus include, for example, outlook-verify.net, yahoo-verify.net, verification-live.com, and myaccount-services.net

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FILE - Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

A US court has granted Microsoft control of 99 websites widely associated with an Iranian group that were used to conduct hacking operations globally.

The court authorised Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) to take control of the websites belonging to the group called Phosphorus (also known as APT 35, Charming Kitten and Ajax Security Team) so that these can no longer be used to execute cyber attacks.

“Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) and the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) have been tracking Phosphorus since 2013,” said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft in a blog post late Wednesday.

Its activity is usually designed to gain access to the computer systems of businesses and government agencies and steal sensitive information.

“Its targets also include activists and journalists – especially those involved in advocacy and reporting on issues related to the Middle East,” Burt added.

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A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

Phosphorus typically attempts to compromise the personal accounts of individuals through a technique known as spear-phishing, using social engineering to entice someone to click on a link, sometimes sent through fake social media accounts that appear to belong to friendly contacts.

The link contains malicious software that enables Phosphorus to access computer systems.

“Phosphorus also uses a technique, whereby it sends people an email that makes it seem as if there’s a security risk to their accounts, prompting them to enter their credentials into a web form that enables the group to capture their passwords and gain access to their systems,” Burt informed.

Also Read- British Cybersecurity Inspect Major Technical Issues in Huawei’s Software

Websites registered and used by Phosphorus include, for example, outlook-verify.net, yahoo-verify.net, verification-live.com, and myaccount-services.net.

“The action we executed last week enabled us to take control of 99 websites and redirect traffic from infected devices to our Digital Crime Unit’s sinkhole,” said Microsoft. (IANS)

Next Story

Microsoft Acquires Express Logic to Push IoT Dream

Microsoft is getting an established company with a proven product that can help it scale its Azure IoT business

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A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

Microsoft has acquired San Diego-based software company Express Logic, that makes software for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, to accelerate IoT development for billions of devices at scale.

With this acquisition, Microsoft said late Thursday it will unlock access to billions of new connected endpoints, grow the number of devices that can seamlessly connect to its Azure Cloud and enable new intelligent capabilities.

“I am incredibly excited to share we have acquired Express Logic, a leader in real time operating systems (RTOS) for IoT and edge devices powered by micro-controller units (MCUs),” said Sam George, Director, Azure IoT at Microsoft.

Manufacturers building products across categories — from low capacity sensors like light bulbs and temperature gauges to air conditioners, medical devices, and network appliances — leverage the size, safety and security benefits of Express Logic solutions to achieve faster time to market.

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Logo of Microsoft outside it’s office. Pixabay

“Even highly constrained devices (battery powered and having less than 64KB of flash memory) can use Express Logic solutions. Over 9 billion of these MCU-powered devices are built and deployed globally every year, many of which can benefit from Express Logic solutions,” said Microsoft.

Microsoft is getting an established company with a proven product that can help it scale its Azure IoT business.

Also Read- Uber’s Self-driving Unit Gets $1 bn Investment

The acquisition is part of a $5 billion investment in IoT the company announced last April that includes a number of Azure pieces, such as Azure Sphere, Azure Digital Twins, Azure IoT Edge, Azure Maps and Azure IoT Central. (IANS)