Hackers have targeted an undisclosed number of "high-profile" Xbox LIVE accounts owned by current and former Microsoft employees, according to GII. The hacks are somehow tied to individuals gathering social security numbers.
Microsoft says that it is aware of the situation and is working with law enforcement agencies to trace the attacks back to the attackers and to close any existing loopholes linked to third-party applications. Microsoft issued the following statement on the attacks to The Verge:
"We are aware that a group of attackers are using several stringed social engineering techniques to compromise the accounts of a handful of high-profile Xbox LIVE accounts held by current and former Microsoft employees," the statement reads. "We are actively working with law enforcement and other affected companies to disable this current method of attack and prevent its further use. Security is of critical importance to us and we are working every day to bring new forms of protection to our members."
The attacks are apparently coming from a "third-party agency" which collects social security numbers as part of a user profile. That system has been compromised. Microsoft emphasized in its statement that it does not collect social security numbers for its services:
"Microsoft does not collect or use Social Security numbers in its services, including Xbox LIVE Gamertags or Microsoft accounts. Attackers are targeting high-profile Microsoft employees by social engineering other companies that do use this data to intercept security proofs from Microsoft to compromise the accounts."
Some speculate that the attacks are the result of an "ongoing persecution" of security blogger and expert Brian Krebs, who detailed how these attacks were being conducted. After publishing those details, Kerbs suffered a DDOS attack on his website and had a SWAT team raid his house after a hoax police call claiming that invaders had entered his home and shot his wife.
Krebs believes that these events are being perpetrated by the same attackers and could be linked to a piece he wrote exposing a website which was selling the social security details of US citizens. After covering his work on the issue, both Ars Technica and Wired were also hit with DDOS attacks.
We'll have more on this story as it develops.