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The Hack That Wouldn’t Die

Last’s month’s news that China-based adversaries were able to hack into the Microsoft 365 cloud environment to access and exfiltrate unclassified email data from Federal agencies and other organizations isn’t going away quietly. Today, leaders of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee requested a briefing on the extent of the exploit from Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo , whose email accounts were reportedly accessed by the hackers. The House Oversight leaders join a growing chorus from Congress who want to know more about the exploit. Last week a bipartisan group of 14 senators sent a letter to the State Department with a similar request, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., sent his own letter calling on the Department of Justice (DoJ) and two civil regulators to open separate probes into Microsoft’s cybersecurity practices after the high-level hack.

What we know: In a briefing last month when the news broke, a senior Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) official emphasized that the attack appeared to have been narrowly scoped, was quickly rooted out and mitigated, and that classified information was not exposed. The silver lining for better security going forward: a few days after the hack came to light, Microsoft and CISA announced an agreement under which Microsoft cloud service customers will have access to expanded cloud logging capabilities at no additional cost beginning in September. CISA said access to those capabilities – which had been available as a premium service – was instrumental in spotting and dealing with the exploit.

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