Cyber attackers are using Microsoft Exchange Server vulnerabilities to access Exchange server email accounts on an organization’s premises and install malware to facilitate long-term access to victim environments, the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center announced yesterday.

It suspects a potentially state-sponsored group out of China called HAFNIUM is behind the campaign. According to Microsoft, Exchange Online is not affected.

“We are sharing this information with our customers and the security community to emphasize the critical nature of these vulnerabilities and the importance of patching all affected systems immediately to protect against these exploits and prevent future abuse across the ecosystem,” the center said.

John Riggi, AHA senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk, said, “This is another example, like the SolarWinds breach, of what is believed to be a sophisticated nation-state-supported actor seeking to compromise ubiquitous and fundamental third-party software services as a means for widespread penetration of entire sectors of the U.S. economy. It is also important to note for the health care sector that the HAFNIUM cyber adversary is specifically targeting infectious disease research, among other data. This is consistent with documented criminal cases of the Chinese government’s aggressive pursuit of U.S. medical research and innovation.”

For more information on nation-state cyber threats targeting health care or other cyber issues, contact Riggi at jriggi@aha.org.

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