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Microsoft Exchange attacks doubling 'every two to three hours'

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Khakimullin Aleksandr)

Ever since Microsoft announced four zero-day vulnerabilities affecting its Exchange Server, hackers all over the globe have rushed to take advantage before organizations can deploy the patch.

The latest report from cybersecurity company Check Point Research claims that the number of these attacks doubles “every two to three hours”.

Most of the attacks are against organizations in Turkey (18 percent of all exploit attempts) and the United States (17 percent), followed by Italy (10 percent). In most cases, criminals are pursuing government and military organizations (17 percent), manufacturing firms (14 percent) and financial institutions (11 percent).

However, according to CheckPoint, "hackers have yet to carry out the full chain of attack successfully."

Earlier reports (opens in new tab) suggested that more than 30,000 organizations across the US had been targeted via these vulnerabilities, including police and fire departments, rescue units, telecoms providers, banks and utilities.

Microsoft released an advisory on March 3, in which it was explained that the vulnerabilities could allow hackers to read emails from an Exchange server without authentication. It was also said that attackers could take over the entire mail server.

Lotem Finkelstein, Manager of Threat Intelligence at Check Point, warned organizations not only to patch the vulnerabilities, but also to scan their networks for potential live threats.

The motives of the attacks are as yet unknown, but criminals may intend to compromise the networks first, and think of ways to leverage this access later.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.