President Joe Biden’s administration will reportedly create a task force to combat China-linked cyber attacks against Microsoft email servers, according to CNN.
Microsoft reported the attacks in a blog post on Tuesday. Exchange servers were illegally targeted allowing access to email accounts along with the installation of malware to unsuspecting users.
A U.S. official told CNN an estimated 30,000 users affected by the breach in the U.S., and up to 250,000 around the world. The White House declined to provide an estimate on the number of Americans affected. Microsoft recommends downloading software patches to remedy any ill effects from the attack, CNN reported Saturday. (RELATED: REPORT: China Collected Data While U.S. Intelligence Fell Behind)
The task force will include the National Security Council, the FBI, the Cybersecurity, the Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and other federal agencies, the official told CNN.
“We are undertaking a whole of government response to assess and address the impact,” a White House official told CNN. “The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an emergency directive to agencies and we’re now working with our partners and looking closely at the next steps we need to take. This is an active threat still developing and we urge network operators to take it very seriously.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki declared the situation an “active threat” on Friday.
“Everyone running these servers — government, private sector, academia — needs to act now to patch them,” Psaki said.
State and local government agencies were also impacted, according to CNN. In response to the attack, the Department of Homeland Security sent out an emergency directive last week requiring federal agencies to update their servers or disconnect them, CNN reported. It is the second such directive in the last three months, according to CNN.
“We urge network operators to take it very seriously,” Psaki said of the directive.
“This has the potential to simultaneously affect organizations that are critical to everyday life in the U.S.,” officials told CNN.