Microsoft on Thursday disclosed that it obtained a court order to take control of seven domains used by APT28, a state-sponsored group operated by Russia’s military intelligence service, with the goal of neutralizing its attacks on Ukraine.
“We have since re-directed these domains to a sinkhole controlled by Microsoft, enabling us to mitigate Strontium’s current use of these domains and enable victim notifications,” Tom Burt, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of customer security and trust, said.
APT28, also known by the names Sofacy, Sednit, Pawn Storm, Fancy Bear, Iron Twilight, and Strontium, is a cyber espionage group and an advanced persistent threat that’s known to be active since 2009, striking media, governments, military, and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that often have a security focus.
The tech giant noted that the sinkholed infrastructure was used by the threat actor to target Ukrainian institutions as well as governments and think tanks in the U.S. and the European Union so as to maintain long term persistent access and exfiltrate sensitive information.
The seizure is part of a long-term investment to systematically dismantle infrastructure used by the threat actor, Microsoft said, adding it has used the expedited legal framework put in place 15 times to take down more than 100 Strontium-controlled domains.
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