Lessons from the Midnight Blizzard Cyber Attack

Protecting Your Business from Cyber Threats

The recent cyber attack on Microsoft by the group Midnight Blizzard is a stark reminder that cybersecurity is a critical concern for any business in today’s interconnected world. While the term “cyber security” may conjure up images of complex digital defenses, this attack shows that the essence of the challenge is simple: monitor your company’s digital assets on an ongoing periodic basis and protect them from unauthorized access.

Understanding the Attack

Midnight Blizzard’s attack did not rely on sophisticated hacking techniques and did not exploit weaknesses in Microsoft products. Instead, the attackers used a relatively simple method called “password spraying” to gain access to a test account, then gained access to more sensitive areas, including the e-mail accounts of top executives.
Password spraying
Password spraying is a type of cyber attack in which an attacker attempts to gain access to a large number of accounts (usernames) using a few commonly used passwords. Unlike brute force attacks, in which many passwords are attempted against a single user account, password spraying targets many user accounts with a few passwords known to be widely used and therefore more likely to succeed.

Password spraying is effective because it exploits the weakest link in security: human behavior. Despite widespread knowledge about the importance of strong passwords, many users still choose convenience over complexity.

Practical steps for better security

  • Train employees: Make sure your employees are aware of the risks and know how to recognize suspicious activity. Regular, easy-to-understand training can help prevent many attacks.
  • Use stronger authentication: Encourage the use of strong passwords and implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) – a system that requires more than just a password to log in, such as a code sent to a phone.
  • Perform periodic checks: Older, less active accounts can be an easy target for attackers. Check these accounts regularly and update them with the latest security measures. 
  • Restrict access: Not everyone in your company needs to have access to all information. Give employees access only to the data they need for their jobs, so they are less at risk if their accounts are compromised.
  • Have a plan: If an attack occurs, you need to know in advance who will do what. An incident response plan can help contain and mitigate the damage quickly.
  • Monitor constantly: Use tools that monitor your network for unusual activity. The sooner you see something strange, the sooner you can do something to stop it.
  • Share knowledge: When companies share their experiences with cyber threats, everyone benefits. By working together, we can all be better prepared.

Adapting to a new reality

Microsoft’s response to the attack is a blueprint for all of us. They are taking quick action to secure even their legacy systems, accepting that this may disrupt some business processes in the short term. This is a necessary step to ensure long-term security and therefore business continuity.


The Midnight Blizzard incident is a call to action. Cybersecurity is not just an IT issue; it is a fundamental aspect of modern business leadership. By taking proactive steps to educate your team, strengthen your defenses and plan for potential incidents, you can protect your company’s future in the digital age. Remember that in cybersecurity, prevention is better than cure. Embark on your journey towards enhanced security with the assistance of Universal’s Security as a Service.

By Jelte Wolf

Helping SMBs to become more resilient to cyber threats

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