The pro-Russian hackers – who claim to have taken down Microsoft Outlook in an ongoing targeted campaign against the US – warn OpenAI’s ChatGPT is the next victim on their list.
The hacktivist gang Anonymous Sudan has claimed responsibility for a series of intermittent DDoS attacks against the Microsoft 365 information management platform that began Monday morning.
The group's encrypted Telegram channel is chock full of dozens of threat posts singling out Microsoft as their latest high-profile target du jour.
The Microsoft attack, now in its fourth round against Outlook, started up again Tuesday morning after Anonymous Sudan warned they would continue to “humiliate” the tech giant and “confirm to the world that you are a 'S!#T' company.”
The threat actors also made it clear that they were unhappy with Microsoft for attributing the multiple service outages to “technical issues.”
“In total, today, we have downed most of Microsoft services for 4.5 hours,” the group posted late Monday evening.
“Microsoft knows we are behind the attack, but they are hiding it because this is a big shame and embarrassment to a company this size to be humiliated this hard,” the post said.
The entire campaign then escalated with Anonymous Sudan asking Microsoft for a $1 million dollar ransom to stop their attacks and threatening (without proof of possession) to sell the data of more than 30 million Microsoft users.
"You have failed to repel the attack which has continued for hours, so how about you pay us 1,000,000 USD and we teach your cyber-security experts how to repel the attack and we stop the attack from our end?" the group posted.
"Otherwise, enjoy long hours of downtime, millions of angry customers worldwide and loss of billions of dollars," it said.
Tuesday, the group upped the ante in another post, "We hacked your system and we have the data of more than 30 million customers.. What do you think.. Should we sell it?"
Hours later, the group decided to throw the Microsoft-backed Open AI protege, ChatGPT, into the ring.
“It was just a test attack, we will not attack them now.. we will attack them later,” the group posted Tuesday, along with an image of an invalid page request showing OpenAI’s web address in its browser.
The same post also contained a link to a “check host” site which seemed to depict dozens of OpenAI server errors and timeouts in cities around the world, from Tokyo to Barcelona, to Sydney, Australia, and even Starlink in Ukraine.
Meanwhile on Twitter, the Microsoft Outlook profile has been lighting up non-stop the past 24 hours with frustrated users.
“@Outlook dude let us know when you’re going to fix the system, these outages are killing my productivity,” tweeted one user.
“@Outlook when will the constant crashing and failing to upload be fixed?,” said another.
Microsoft’s standard response: ”Hey there, we are sorry to hear you’re still having issues. Can you give us more details about the problem you are experiencing? Please send us a DM for further assistance!”
Outlook is the world's third-most popular email client, with about 400 million active users.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Microsoft has been silent on the reported hack. Cybernews has reached out to the tech giant for comment and is awaiting a response.
Anonymous Sudan stays busy
The hacktivist group announced over the weekend it was launching the anti-US campaign in retaliation for recent US interference in Sudanese internal affairs, citing US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to Saudi Arabia last week to discuss the Republic's ongoing humanitarian crisis.
The White House had also announced economic sanctions against several of Sudan’s corrupt government entities, including the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF), deemed responsible for escalating the crisis.
Anonymous Sudan has since targeted the ride-sharing platform Lyft with its distributed denial-of-service attacks, which are designed to overwhelm a server or website address with bot requests, essentially knocking it offline.
The group also took several regional US healthcare entities offline as part of the weekend campaign.
Furthermore, the group has been relentlessly targeting SAS Airlines since mid-February.
The two-week-long attack, which seems to be on hiatus since the Microsoft attack began, has bullied the airlines with intermittent outages and ransom demands, all because Anonymous Sudan was "bored."
The somewhat theatrical saga follows a ransom demand that started off at only $3500 but then increased dramatically – four separate times – to its now current ask of $10 million.
In what seems to be a show of solidarity, Killnet, who happened to announce it was disbanding this week, has been reposting some of Anonymous Sudan's recent messages on its own Telegram channel about the Microsoft attacks.
Cybernews will continue to follow the story.
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