Microsoft and Google openly feuding amid hacks, competition inquiries

Cybersecurity

The Microsoft company logo is displayed at their offices in Sydney, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Microsoft says it supports Australia’s plans to make the biggest digital platforms pay for news and would help small businesses transfer their advertising to Bing if Google quits the country. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Google and Microsoft are at knives drawn.

Driven in part by pressure from lawmakers and regulators over the extraordinary power the two technology companies wield over American life, the California-based search engine giant and Washington-based software firm are wrestling to throw each other under the bus.

Tensions between Microsoft Corp and Alphabet-owned Google have been simmering for a while but the rivalry has become unusually public in recent days as executives from both firms have been put on the defensive over competing crises.

Google faces bipartisan complaints – and journalistic ire – over its role in gutting the media industry’s advertisement revenue, the subject of a Congressional antitrust hearing on Friday.

Microsoft, meanwhile, faces scrutiny for its role in back-to-back cybersecurity breaches.

In the first, the same allegedly Russian hackers who compromised the Texas software firm SolarWinds Corp also took advantage of Microsoft’s cloud software to break into some of the company’s clients. The second, disclosed on March 2, saw allegedly Chinese hackers abuse previously unknown vulnerabilities to vacuum up emails from Microsoft customers around the world.

Addressing lawmakers on Friday at a House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee on news, Microsoft President Brad Smith was due to fire a shot at Google, telling representatives that media organizations are being forced to “use Google’s tools, operate on Google’s ad exchanges, contribute data to Google’s operations, and pay Google money,” according to excerpts of his testimony published by Axios.

Google fired back, saying that Microsoft’s “newfound interest in attacking us comes on the heels of the SolarWinds attack and at a moment when they’ve allowed tens of thousands of their customers — including government agencies in the U.S., NATO allies, banks, nonprofits, telecommunications providers, public utilities, police, fire and rescue units, hospitals and, presumably, news organizations — to be actively hacked via major Microsoft vulnerabilities.”

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said on Friday the Biden administration is still gathering information on the scale of the hack on Microsoft Corp’s exchange. Sullivan said the administration will be able to attribute the cyber attack to those who executed it in the near future.

Microsoft has previously said the attackers are “state-sponsored and operating out of China”.

Most of the nine federal government agencies compromised by the massive SolarWinds hack have completed an independent review and those that have not will finish it by the end of March, a senior administration official said.

The hacking, which also hurt 100 private companies, used corrupted SolarWinds code and weaknesses in Microsoft identity-management tools. Officials said they would respond to the perpetrators directly within “weeks, not months.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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