Pro-Russian hackers have claimed responsibility for the recent disruption of Microsoft Outlook as part of their ongoing targeted campaign against the US. They have now issued a warning, stating that OpenAI’s ChatGPT is their next intended victim.
Anonymous Sudan, a hacktivist group, has taken credit for a series of intermittent DDoS attacks on the Microsoft 365 platform since Monday morning. Their encrypted Telegram channel contains numerous threatening posts specifically targeting Microsoft as their latest high-profile objective.
Following their warning, the Microsoft attack on Outlook, now in its fourth round, resumed on Tuesday morning. Anonymous Sudan had previously declared their intention to “humiliate” the tech giant and prove that it is an inadequate company. The group expressed their discontent with Microsoft’s explanation of “technical issues” for the service outages.
Late on Monday evening, the group announced that they had brought down most of Microsoft’s services for a period of 4.5 hours. They claimed that Microsoft was aware of their involvement in the attack but chose to conceal it due to the embarrassment caused to such a large company.
The situation escalated further when Anonymous Sudan demanded a ransom of $1 million from Microsoft in exchange for halting their attacks. They also threatened to sell the data of over 30 million Microsoft users, although they provided no evidence of possession.
In another post on Tuesday, the group raised the stakes by stating that they had hacked into Microsoft’s system and obtained the data of over 30 million customers, questioning whether they should sell it. Subsequently, the group shifted their focus to ChatGPT, the AI developed by OpenAI and supported by Microsoft.
Anonymous Sudan declared that their attack on ChatGPT was merely a test, but they intended to target it in the future. They posted an image showing an invalid page request with OpenAI’s web address in their browser. The same post included a link to a website displaying multiple errors and timeouts from OpenAI servers in various cities worldwide.
Meanwhile, frustrated Outlook users expressed their complaints on Twitter, highlighting issues such as system crashes and upload failures. Microsoft responded with their standard message, requesting more details about the problems and offering further assistance.
Outlook is currently the third-most-popular email client globally, with approximately 400 million active users.
Anonymous Sudan initiated the anti-US campaign in response to recent US interference in Sudanese internal affairs, specifically mentioning US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Saudi Arabia to discuss the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country. Additionally, the White House imposed economic sanctions on several corrupt Sudanese government entities, including the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which Anonymous Sudan holds responsible for exacerbating the crisis.
Apart from targeting Microsoft, Anonymous Sudan has launched DDoS attacks against the ride-sharing platform Lyft, various regional US healthcare entities, and SAS Airlines since mid-February. The group’s campaign against SAS Airlines, characterized by intermittent outages and ransom demands, began on Valentine’s Day and is currently on pause due to the Microsoft attack. Their ransom demand has progressively increased from $3,500 to its current demand of $10 million.
In a display of solidarity, KillNet, a pro-Russian hacker group that recently announced its dissolution, has been reposting Anonymous Sudan’s messages regarding the Microsoft attacks on its own Telegram channel.