NSA uncovers new "critical" flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server

Federal government orders all agencies to install fixes as the FBI scrambles to remove backdoors

The White House is the daytime

Microsoft released three new patches for its Exchange Server software on Tuesday after the National Security Agency (NSA) alerted the company to a fresh batch of critical vulnerabilities.

The new fixes are for three versions of Exchange Server - 2013, 2016 and 2019 - and the flaws are said to be different vulnerabilities to the ones disclosed in March. However, US agencies continue to find and remove vulnerabilities in their systems a month after the previous flaws were first discovered

In response to the release of new fixes, the White House ordered all its agencies to install them, warning that the vulnerabilities "pose an unacceptable risk" to Federal operations. 

Microsoft's Exchange Server email and calendar software is mostly used in on-premise data centres. The popularity of the system was highlighted by the number of reported breaches the followed the discovery of the initial flaws. 

"Microsoft released a set of Exchange patches today that are critical," a White House statement read. "We urge all owners and operators of Microsoft Exchange Servers to apply these latest patches immediately. The US government will lead by example - we are requiring all agencies to immediately patch their Exchange servers, as well."

Related Resource

The business guide to ransomware

Everything you need to know to keep your company afloat

The business guide to ransomware - whitepaper from DattoDownload now

Exchange Server vulnerabilities have caused issues for a number of organisations around the world, with many servers having already been breached and still vulnerable via embedded back doors. China state-sponsored hacking group Hafnium was spotted by Microsoft using the vulnerability to break into Exchange Servers to view or steal contents. 

These vulnerabilities were patched by Microsoft, but backdoors embedded in breached servers were not closed. Within a few days, other hacking groups began hitting compromised servers with the same flaws to deploy ransomware.

As a result, a US court has had to authorise an FBI operation to "copy and remove" backdoors from hundreds of Exchange Servers. The Justice Department said the operation was "successful", but it only removed backdoors and did not patch the vulnerabilities exploited by the hackers or remove any malware that may have been left behind.

Featured Resources

How to be an MSP: Seven steps to success

Building your business from the ground up

Download now

The smart buyer’s guide to flash

Find out whether flash storage is right for your business

Download now

How MSPs build outperforming sales teams

The definitive guide to sales

Download now

The business guide to ransomware

Everything you need to know to keep your company afloat

Download now

Recommended

GitHub now supports security keys in a move away from passwords
Security

GitHub now supports security keys in a move away from passwords

12 May 2021
Exchange Server zero-day among latest Microsoft Patch Tuesday fixes
vulnerability

Exchange Server zero-day among latest Microsoft Patch Tuesday fixes

12 May 2021
JEDI contract's future becomes murky after AWS court win
Policy & legislation

JEDI contract's future becomes murky after AWS court win

11 May 2021
Tech giants lobby US to fund chip production
Hardware

Tech giants lobby US to fund chip production

11 May 2021

Most Popular

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans
flexible working

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans

6 May 2021
16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

29 Apr 2021
How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD
operating systems

How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD

30 Apr 2021