Microsoft security breaches for email accounts

Microsoft Exchange

You might have recently read news articles on the BCC website concerning how Microsoft had been attacked with a hack that affected Microsoft Exchange servers – see the first article published on 12th March Exchange email hack: Hundreds of UK firms compromised – BBC News and a further article published on 13th March  Microsoft hack: 3,000 UK email servers remain unsecured – BBC News

We have published this update to reassure all GCC Group customers that have their IT support with us – this has no impact on you.

The National Cyber Security Centre said that it estimated 7,000 servers had been affected by the flaw in the UK and only half of them had been secured (through the application of the latest security patch issued by Microsoft) and that this flaw would open some companies, particularly SME’s, to Ransomware attacks.

The hacking campaign was first discovered and reported by Microsoft on 2nd March 2021 and was blamed on a Chinese government backed hacking system called Hafnium, using new techniques targeting Exchange servers. The real issue is not that an attempted hack occurred, because this is always going to happen, it’s around how fast the servers get patched with the relevant security update.

We are happy to report that no GCC Group customers with an IT ‘Network & Servers’ support contract, where GCC maintain and support your servers, have been affected because:

  • As soon as GCC was notified through the Microsoft Partner channels, we checked for any possible impact, but were reassured to see that our customers were not affected.
  • All current GCC Group IT supported customers are using Microsoft 365 cloud email services, and this hasn’t been affected by the attack. All Microsoft 365 email services are hosted in Microsoft Azure and Microsoft run extensive security services permanently safeguarding the email servers. Microsoft spend over $1Billion per year on security for its Microsoft Azure services and is known for being one of the best systems around – see – Microsoft Trust Center Home | MS Trust Center
  • If any of GCC’s customers still had the older on-premise Exchange server operational, it would have been protected and patched by the GCC 24/7 patching and updating service that automatically updates any servers under GCC support with the latest Microsoft patches as and when they are issued.

Further information – for those that would like to know more information:

The hack affects Microsoft Exchange server 2013 / 2016 / 2019 with further unknown issues if older.

Microsoft 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th March 2021 – HAFNIUM targeting Exchange Servers with 0-day exploits – Microsoft Security

National Cyber Security Centre – 12th March 2021 – Microsoft vulnerabilities exploitation – updated advice – NCSC.GOV.UK


And of course, if you have any concerns at all please feel free to contact the GCC service desk on 0345 260 1151 or and we’ll be happy to explain further.

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