2020 Getty Images

Cybersecurity centre warns against Chinese virus

Belgium’s Centre for Cybersecurity, the CCB, has issued a warning in connection with a dangerous Chinese computer virus that can take control of Microsoft Exchange’s email system.  Microsoft claims the virus was produced by Hafnium, an organisation linked to the Chinese government. Worldwide 30,000 businesses have been hit including three in Belgium.

Last week hackers discovered a vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange allowing them to stage a Zero Day and break into the email systems of 30,000 businesses.  “Once in the system hackers can copy email addresses and passwords” says Erwin Geirnaert of cyber security firm Shift-Left-Security. “They can easily switch from the mailbox to the company network.  That’s pretty dangerous.  Networks can be taken down and ransomware can be installed.”

Microsoft is urging all businesses using Exchange to update their systems, advice mirrored by the CCB.  CCB’s Miguel De Bruycker also calls on people to report attacks.

“New updates are issued regularly.  They must be installed ASAP.  It’s also important to restart i.e. reboot the system after an update and regularly to check for indications your system has been compromised.”

Erwin Geirnaert is not convinced Microsoft’s update will have come in time for all: “Two days passed between the point the vulnerability was discovered and the Microsoft update.  Meanwhile hackers had free rein to infiltrate systems.  Cyberattacks had also been in progress before they were discovered.”

Top stories