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Google accused Microsoft of attempting to divert public attention away from a major Microsoft server hack.
Kent Walker, Google’s head of global affairs, said in a blog post Microsoft is attacking his firm to divert attention away from the massive hack on Microsoft Exchange servers. The statement came ahead of a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on competition among news outlets at which Microsoft testified.
Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a testimony ahead of a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing that Google “dominates” digital advertising and requires news outlets use the tech firm’s tools to operate.
“Microsoft was warned about the vulnerabilities in their system, knew they were being exploited, and are now doing damage control while their customers scramble to pick up the pieces from what has been dubbed the Great Email Robbery,” Walker said. “So maybe it’s not surprising to see them dusting off the old diversionary Scroogled playbook.”
Microsoft announced on March 3 a Chinese-sponsored group Hafnium had hacked into its Exchange email servers, impacting an estimated 100,000 organizations globally and 30,000 in the US. Cybersecurity experts warn the attack could be “1,000 times more crippling” than the well-publicized Solar Winds attack.
Microsoft was recently grilled by US senators over the massive Solar Winds hack that infiltrated Fortune 500 companies and federal agencies.
Smith said a lack of competition among search engines results in Google acting as a gatekeeper for news outlets. Microsoft-owned Bing has had trouble competing with Google’s search engine, which controls 81% of all general search queries in the US on desktop and 94% on mobile, per the House Judiciary subcommittee.
Google’s Walker said Microsoft owns also platforms where news is consumed, like LinkedIn, MSN, and Microsoft News, but gives less financial support to outlets.
The two tech firms took aim at each other recently after Australia passed a law requiring news tech giants to pay news publishers before displaying content in their search results.
Microsoft supported the law, and suggested Bing could replace Google as the primary search engine in Australia. Walker responded to Microsoft’s comments by accusing the firm of imposing an “unworkable levy” to gain better market access.
Microsoft was not immediately available for additional comment.