A hacking campaign that U.S. intelligence services have said Russia likely was behind is “probably the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said.
Smith, speaking in an interview that aired on February 14 on CBS, discussed the scope of the massive intrusion discovered in December that breached government and private company networks in the United States and many other countries.
“When we analyzed everything that we saw at Microsoft, we asked ourselves how many engineers have probably worked on these attacks. And the answer we came to was, well, certainly more than 1,000,” Smith said, speaking with the program 60 Minutes.
Cybersecurity experts have said it could take months to identify all the compromised systems and expel the hackers. Russia has denied any involvement in the cyberattack.
Microsoft announced in late December that it was among the thousands of companies that found its systems compromised. It said that hackers gained access to its source code but said the activity did not put the security of its services or any customer data at risk.
The software giant had previously acknowledged that like U.S. government agencies and other firms, it had downloaded updates of network management software made by the company SolarWinds that the hackers had targeted. The compromised software provided hackers a backdoor into government and company networks.
Microsoft said at the time that the hacking operation was carried out by a “very sophisticated nation-state actor” and said companies and businesses affected were in several other countries, including Canada, Mexico, Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates.
Then-U.S. President-elect Joe Biden called the cyberattack a “great concern” and promised to impose “substantial costs” on the perpetrators in coordination with U.S. allies and partners.