Microsoft: Hackers obtained high-profile Xbox Live accounts

The company said attackers used 'several stringed social engineering techniques'

Several high-profile Xbox Live accounts for former and current Microsoft employees were compromised by attackers using social engineering techniques, the company said late Tuesday.

"We are actively working with law enforcement and other affected companies to disable this current method of attack and prevent its further use," the company said in a statement. "Security is of critical importance to us and we are working every day to bring new forms of protection to our members."

Microsoft said the attackers used "several stringed social engineering techniques." Social engineering usually involves tricking, for example, an employee of a company into giving information about a victim while impersonating the victim.

The company's statement appears to be connected with a events involving security reporter Brian Krebs, who was the recent victim of a so-called "SWATting" incident following a story he wrote about how stolen credit reports are sold over the Internet. Police surrounded Krebs' residence last Thursday after a caller falsely reported a break-in, a dangerous prank played by bold hackers.

Following the disclosure of credit reports for many celebrities and government officials last week, Krebs had written a story that named a website where people can purchase someone's credit report or driver's license number. The disclosure of that website angered someone, and Krebs wrote that his website came under a denial-of-service attack.

The website, ssndob.ru, was apparently used a source for information by a group of hackers that compromised the Xbox accounts, according to Krebs' reporting.

It's not uncommon for hackers to obtain a bit of data on a person and spin it into a much larger social engineering attack, such as compromising a person's credit card or mobile phone accounts.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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