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Microsoft Says Israeli Hacking Group Behind Windows PC Attacks

Software giant Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) said on Thursday that an Israeli group had sold a tool, which could hack into Microsoft Windows quite easily. Microsoft brought this information to light in association with technology human rights group Citizen Lab, thus bringing the spotlight on the emerging business of finding and selling tools to hack the widely used software.

A Citizen Lab report states that the hacking tool vendor called Candiru created and sold a software exploit, which could easily penetrate Windows and create unparallel damage. Technical analysis by security researchers have details about how Candiru's hacking tool has been widely used to target various civil society organizations, like a Saudi dissident group and a left-leaning Indonesian news outlet.

According to data present with Microsoft, the Candiru hacking tool was used against customers in different countries like Iran, Lebanon, Spain and the United Kingdom. "Candiru's growing presence, and the use of its surveillance technology against global civil society, is a potent reminder that the mercenary spyware industry contains many players and is prone to widespread abuse," Citizen Lab said in its report.

On Tuesday, Microsoft fixed the hacking problems through a software update. The company did not directly attribute the hacking issues to Candiru, instead referring to it as an "Israel-based private sector offensive actor" under the codename Sourgum.

The company said, "Sourgum generally sells cyberweapons that enable its customers, often government agencies around the world, to hack into their targets' computers, phones, network infrastructure, and internet-connected devices."

On Wednesday, Google (GOOGL) also revealed that it had found two Chrome software flaws connected to Candiru. The company also did not refer to Candiru by name, but described it as a "commercial surveillance company." Google had fixed the two flaws earlier this year.

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