(Bloomberg) -- A sophisticated attack on Microsoft Corp.’s widely used business email software is morphing into a global cybersecurity crisis, as hackers race to infect as many victims as possible before companies can secure their computer systems.The attack, which Microsoft has said started with a Chinese government-backed hacking group, has so far claimed at least 60,000 known victims globally, according to a former senior U.S. official with knowledge of the investigation. Many of them appear to be small or medium-sized businesses caught in a wide net the attackers cast as Microsoft worked to shut down the hack.
The European Banking Authority became one of the latest victims as it said Sunday that access to personal data through emails held on the Microsoft server may have been compromised. Others identified so far include banks and electricity providers, as well as senior citizen homes and an ice cream company, according to Huntress, a Ellicott City, Maryland-based firm that monitors the security of customers, in a blog post Friday.One U.S. cybersecurity company which asked not to be named said its experts alone were working with at least 50 victims, trying to quickly determine what data the hackers may have taken while also trying to eject them.The rapidly escalating attack drew the concern of U.S. national security officials, in part because the hackers were able to hit so many victims so quickly. Researchers say in the final phases of the attack, the hackers appeared to have automated the process, scooping up tens of thousands of new victims around the world in a matter of days.“We are undertaking a whole of government response to assess and address the impact,” a White House official wrote in an email on Saturday. “This is an active threat still developing and we u ..