A Microsoft engineer accidentally prevented a cyberattack that compromised computers around the world

Photo: David Sillitoe/The Guardian

Andres Freund, a German engineer at Microsoft, accidentally noticed something strange in some software he was working on and discovered that a hacker was trying to access computers around the world, he recently reported on the microblogging social network Mastodon.

The engineer, 38 years old and based in San Francisco (California), invented “a back door” – a computer term for a secret entry used as a remote control for malicious purposes. Linux operating system.

According to experts, this backdoor could lead to a massive cyber attack that, if successful, could cause significant damage.

Following its discovery, the Cyber ​​Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned of a backdoor (CVE-2024-3094) in versions 5.6.0 and 5.6.1 of a data tool called XZ Utils, and recommended that it be patched until it is fixed. Users and developers will use the older version.

Linux is one of the most important open source operating systems in the world and is used by most of the world's servers in banks, hospitals, corporations and governments.

The engineer's achievement was praised by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who noted on his social networks that “Andres Freund was able to help us all with his passion and talent.”

“Security is a team sport, and that's the culture we need everywhere,” Nadella noted.

It's unclear who created the backdoor and what backing it had, but according to The New York Times, the plan was so elaborate that some researchers believe it could only have been attempted by a nation with enormous capabilities in designing cyberattacks. Like Russia or China.


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