Microsoft says Windows 10 security flaw exploited by government-linked Russian hackers

The Russian-linked hacking group, thought to be responsible for breaking into the computers of the US Democratic National Committee, looks to have exploited a flaw in Microsoft’s Windows operating system. 

Microsoft says Windows 10 security flaw exploited by government-linked Russian hackers

Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, claimed in an advisory that there have been a small number of attacks using “spear-phishing” emails. These have been connected to the hacking group Strontium, also known as APT28 or “Fancy Bear”, which is the same group to have recently leaked the private medical files of Olympic athletes.

Microsoft was none too happy about Google’s move to publically identify the Window’s flaw earlier this week. The critical vulnerability was reported by Google’s Threat Analysis Group on 26 October, affecting Adobe Flash software and Windows 10, 8.1 and 7 operating systems.

“Google’s decision to disclose these vulnerabilities before patches are broadly available and tested is disappointing, and puts customers at increased risk,” Microsoft said at the time.

Adobe has released an emergency patch to deal with the vulnerability, but a fuller patch for Windows users is not to be released until 8 November. This just happens to be the date of the presidential election in the US.

The group “Fancy Bear” has been connected by US intelligence to the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency. Last month the US official accused the Russian government of being behind the hack of the US Democratic National Committee, which involved the theft of more than 19,000 emails from Democratic party officials.

The news also comes in the wake of an announcement yesterday by UK chancellor Philip Hammond that Britain would swell its funding to protect the country against cyber-attacks. Prior to this, MI5 chief Andrew Parker made comments to The Guardian about Russia, claiming that the country poses an increasing threat to the UK, partly down to its use of cyber-espionage.

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