CISA Directs Federal Agencies to Immediately Mitigate Significant Risk From Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Threat

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CISA Directs Federal Agencies to Immediately Mitigate Significant Risk From Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Threat

WASHINGTON – Today, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) publicly issued Emergency Directive 24-02 in response to a recent campaign by Russian state-sponsored cyber actor Midnight Blizzard targeting Microsoft corporate email accounts and potentially accessing correspondence with Federal Civilian Executive Branch (FCEB) agencies. The Directive was initially issued to federal agencies on April 2nd based upon currently available threat information and limited applicability of relevant actions, which are predicated on notification of exposed credentials by Microsoft. This Directive requires agencies to analyze potentially affected emails, reset any compromised credentials, and take additional steps to secure privileged Microsoft Azure accounts.

Midnight Blizzard is using information initially exfiltrated from Microsoft corporate email systems, including authentication details shared between Microsoft customers and Microsoft by email, to gain, or attempt to gain, additional access to certain Microsoft customer systems. Microsoft and CISA have notified all federal agencies whose email correspondence with Microsoft was identified as exfiltrated by Midnight Blizzard.

“As America’s cyber defense agency and the operational lead for federal civilian cybersecurity, ensuring that federal civilian agencies are taking all necessary steps to secure their networks and systems is among our top priorities. This Emergency Directive requires immediate action by agencies to reduce risk to our federal systems,” said CISA Director Jen Easterly. “For several years, the U.S. government has documented malicious cyber activity as a standard part of the Russian playbook; this latest compromise of Microsoft adds to their long list. We will continue efforts in collaboration with our federal government and private sector partners to protect and defend our systems from such threat activity.”

As federal civilian agencies implement this mandate, CISA will assess and support agency adherence and provide additional resources as required. CISA is committed to using its cybersecurity authorities to gain greater visibility and drive timely risk reduction across federal civilian agencies.

While ED 24-02 requirements apply only to FCEB agencies, other organizations may also have been impacted by the exfiltration of Microsoft corporate accounts and are encouraged to contact their respective Microsoft account team for guidance. Regardless of direct impact, all organizations are strongly encouraged to apply stringent security measures, including strong passwords, multifactor authentication (MFA) and prohibited sharing of unprotected sensitive information via unsecure channels.

For more information on CISA Directives, visit Cybersecurity Directives.

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