What You Need To Know About Microsoft's Denial of Service Attack

August 31, 2023


5 minutes.

What You Need To Know About Microsoft's Denial of Service Attack

When software giants like Microsoft get hacked and are denied access to their own systems, small businesses need to take note. Here's what you need to know about what could happen to you and how to prevent debilitating and costly cyber attacks.

What Could the Recent Microsoft Outlook Hack Mean for You? 

Safeguarding Your Small Business Against Denial-of-Service Attacks

Whether you rely on Outlook, Gmail, or other cloud-based providers, you face daily risks for cyber attacks.  These attacks can deny service for your email, CRM and other applications.  Small to large businesses getting hit with a DoS – denial of service – attack is not just at risk of its entire operations being taken offline, they are also at risk of much deeper consequences if they provide a critical service to a third party that is subsequently denied due to a non-responsive online system. 

Recently, Microsoft Outlook, one of the most widely used email services, fell victim to a significant denial-of-service attack. 

Cyber attacks can not only deny service for critical operations, they can compromise clients’ personal data and force noncompliance to privacy and payment security laws and regulations. 

It’s important to have a plan for addressing cybersecurity risks. From the MS Outlook hack we are reminded that even large companies with complex security programs can still be taken down and impact businesses of all sizes. 


What happened in the attack?

On June 4, 2023, Microsoft Outlook was hit by a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. This type of attack floods a website or server with so much traffic that it becomes overwhelmed and unable to function. In the case of the Outlook attack, the traffic was so intense that it caused the service to be unavailable for several hours.

The attack was carried out by a group known as Storm-1359, which is believed to be a hacktivist group based in Sudan. The group claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter, saying that it was targeting Microsoft in retaliation for the company's support of the Sudanese government.

More on the motivation and method behind the attack 

It’s said that the motivation behind this attack was hacktivism. Hacktivism refers to the use of hacking techniques for political or social activism. It can impact small businesses through website defacement, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, data breaches, financial implications, and reputational damage. Targeted businesses may experience website disruptions, financial losses, customer trust issues, and brand reputation damage as a result. 

The attack was carried out as a denial-of-service (DoS) attack, or a malicious act where an attacker overwhelms a target system, such as a website or server, by flooding it with an excessive amount of requests or data. The objective is to render the system unavailable to legitimate users, disrupting normal operations and causing service downtime. In the case of the recent Microsoft Outlook hack, the attackers targeted the email service, making it inaccessible for users for a significant period.

Impacts of these kinds of attacks on Small Businesses:

Small businesses heavily rely on email services like Microsoft Outlook for daily communication and collaboration. When such services are compromised, the consequences can be detrimental. 

Other examples of popular targeted technologies used by small businesses.

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) Attack (2020): In November 2020, Amazon Web Services (AWS), one of the leading cloud service providers, experienced a significant DDoS attack. The attack targeted the AWS Shield service, which provides DDoS protection to AWS customers. As a result, several AWS customers, including small businesses relying on AWS for their infrastructure and services, experienced intermittent disruptions and performance issues.
  • T-Mobile Attack (2020): In June 2020, T-Mobile, a major telecommunications company, suffered a series of DDoS attacks. The attacks caused service outages, affecting T-Mobile customers across the United States. While the impact was widespread, it also impacted small businesses relying on T-Mobile's network services for their operations and communication.

Here are some key impacts small businesses may experience due to a denial-of-service attack:

1. Productivity Loss: Inaccessibility to email systems disrupts essential business functions, including communication with clients, suppliers, and employees. This can result in significant productivity loss and hinder day-to-day operations.

2. Financial Consequences: Service downtime directly translates to financial losses for small businesses. According to a report by Gartner, the average cost of network downtime is approximately $5,600 per minute, amounting to a staggering $300,000 per hour. Small businesses, with limited resources, are particularly vulnerable to such financial setbacks.

3. Reputation Damage: Customers, partners, and stakeholders rely on timely communication from small businesses. Extended service disruptions may lead to a loss of trust and damage a company's reputation, potentially driving customers away to competitors.

Protecting Your Small Business:

While no security measure can guarantee complete immunity from cyber attacks, taking proactive steps to protect your small business can significantly reduce the risk. Here are some recommended measures:

1. Use a denial of service protection service for your systems: DoS protection services typically work by filtering out malicious traffic before it reaches the website or server. This can be done by using a variety of techniques, such as:

  • Rate limiting: This involves setting limits on the amount of traffic that can be sent to a website or server from a single IP address.
  • Blacklisting: This involves blocking IP addresses that are known to be associated with DDoS attacks.
  • Botnet mitigation: This involves identifying and filtering out traffic from botnets, which are networks of infected computers that are controlled by attackers.

2. Implement Redundancy Measures: Set up redundant systems by utilizing backup servers or cloud-based services. This ensures that even if one system fails, you can quickly switch to an alternative and minimize downtime.

3. Employ Network Monitoring: Regularly monitor your network for any suspicious activities or sudden spikes in traffic. Implement intrusion detection and prevention systems to identify and mitigate potential threats.

4. Enhance Employee Awareness: Train your employees about common cyber threats, including denial-of-service attacks, and educate them on best practices for email security. Encourage the use of strong passwords, caution against clicking on suspicious links or attachments, and promote regular software updates.

5. Engage a Trusted Security Service Provider: Consider partnering with a people-first cybersecurity solution, like Cyber Pop-up,  that specializes in small business cybersecurity. These solutions can help assess your vulnerabilities, provide tailored solutions, and monitor your systems to detect and prevent potential attacks.

Denial-of-service attacks pose a significant threat to small businesses, impacting productivity, finances, and reputation. By understanding the implications of such attacks and implementing proactive security measures, small businesses can better safeguard their operations. Diversification of email services, redundancy planning, network monitoring, employee education, and engaging a security expert are crucial steps in fortifying your defenses against cyber threats. Remember, investing in cybersecurity is an investment.

To learn more about Cyber Pop-ups cybersecurity solutions for small businesses, email us at  View our About Us page to learn more about our experts, expertise and track record for delivering big business protection on a small business budget.