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Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Confirms E-mail Hack

 

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has confirmed that an anonymous “foreign country” has hacked an e-mail server belonging to one of its subsidiaries and allegedly published the information online, as per reports. 

The Iranian threat actor, named ‘Black Reward’ in a statement posted on his Twitter handle says that it has released the hacked information relating to Iranian nuclear activities. The hackers describe their action as an act of support for the Iranian protesters. 

The said protests continue in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini (22-year-old) in September, who apparently died in police custody for not following the strict Islamic dress protocol of the country. The violent protest and street violence resulted in several deaths of protesters, along with that of security force staff. Furthermore, hundreds of demonstrators have allegedly been detained. 

A statement published by the Black Reward on Saturday showing support for the protests, read “In the name of Mahsa Amini and for women, life, and freedom.”  

The hacking group threatened the Iranian state to leak the hacked documents of Tehran’s nuclear program if they would not release all the prisoners and people detained in the protests, within 24 hours. Additionally, the group demands the release of political prisoners, claiming to have leaked 50 gigabytes of internal emails, contracts and construction plans relating to the country’s Russian-sponsored nuclear power plant in Bushehr, publishing files on its Telegram channel. 

According to the statement shared by the hacking group, the released information includes “management and operational schedules of different parts of Bushehr power plant,” passport and visa details of Iran and Russia based specialists working in the power plant and “atomic development contracts and agreements with domestic and foreign partners.” 

Although the atomic energy organization’s general department of public diplomacy and information denied the relevance of the released data, stating “this move was made with the aim of attracting public attention” 

“It should be noted that the content in users’ emails contains technical messages and common and current daily exchanges […] It is obvious that the purpose of such illegal efforts, which are carried out of desperation, is to attract public attention, create media atmospheres and psychological operations, and lack any other value,” the organization confirmed.

Active Email Threat from Microsoft Hack, Warns White House

 

The administration of Biden is highly alarming about a series of recently found cyber intrusions that were associated with China as stated by Microsoft this week. The White House has cautioned that the use of newly disclosed vulnerabilities in Microsoft applications that has affected "a significant number of victims" in the US.

"This is an active threat," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday. "Everyone running these servers - government, private sector, academia - needs to act now to patch them." 

Microsoft said hackers were attacking their targets using its mail server. Tens of thousands of American organizations have indeed been confirmed to be affected. For a long time, the US has suspected the Chinese administration of cyber-espionage. 

On Saturday, the U.S. National Security Council stated, "essential that any organization with a vulnerable server take immediate measures". Later on Friday, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency underlined the danger in an unusually straightforward tweet saying that maltreatment could "enable an attacker to gain control of an entire enterprise network." 

White House officials encouraged private sector companies running Microsoft Exchange Server software to install several crucial upgrades, which were reported as an emergency patch. This week Microsoft announced that it was aware of many vulnerabilities that Chinese hijackers have exploited in its server program. The hacker party, which Microsoft calls Hafnium, has gone after, "infectious disease researchers," law firms, higher education institutions, defense contractors, policy think-tanks, and NGOs, Microsoft stated previously. According to Microsoft, the party concerned had not recently been identified by the public. 

In the US, over 20,000 organizations, with many more impacted globally, have been hacked, Reuters said. In recent days, an unusually active Chinese cyber spying unit has infiltrated at least 30,000 organizations in the USA — including a large number of small companies, towns, cities, and local governments — aiming at robbing e-mail from victim organizations. 

Microsoft did not confirm the figures but said that it was working closely with the US government agencies in a further statement on Friday. They advised clients that "the best protection" was "to apply updates as soon as possible across all impacted systems." However, it said that it had implemented such mitigation strategies to support those who are not able to rapidly update but cautioned that they are not "a remediation if your Exchange servers have already been compromised, nor are they full protection against attack."