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Home > News > Unpacking the U.N. SharePoint Hack: Why is Secure Sharing so Necessary?
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Unpacking the U.N. SharePoint Hack: Why is Secure Sharing so Necessary?

Diplomacy, diversity and democracy. That is what springs to mind when we think about the United Nations, which celebrates its 75th year of activity this year. But a recent major cyberattack may unnerve many who know what allowed the breach to have such a devastating impact- a known vulnerability, (CVE-2019-0604), within the Microsoft SharePoint server.

Unpacking the UN SharePoint Hack: Why is Secure Sharing is so Necessary?


The New Humanitarian, an independent non-profit news organisation, first broke the story of this major cyber-attack at the end of January 2020.  According to their extensive reporting, hackers broke into dozens of U.N. servers in July, with “personnel records, health insurance and commercial contract data”. The result was described by insiders as a “major meltdown”.

The U.N, who enjoy special diplomatic immunity, were not obliged to report an incident of its kind. Events and details concerning the breach were not disclosed to employees, affected bodies or the relevant public authorities. An internal U.N. report which was later leaked, noted that overall 42 servers were compromised with 25 more potentially compromised, according to the Associated Press. These servers included those at the U.N. human rights office, which is home to some of the most sensitive data within the organisation, within which, a cyberattack of this scale means global implications.


In short, the U.N. were hacked via entry to a known vulnerability of Microsoft’s SharePoint server. SharePoint is used primarily to create websites and is also used to store, organise and share information and is integrated with Microsoft Office. Hackers infiltrated the U.N. via this vulnerability (CVE-2019-0604) which Microsoft had previously patched but which the U.N. had not systematically updated. This vulnerability was exploited by those who hacked the U.N, as it allowed them to bypass user logins to access all information on U.N. servers.

It is not the first time that SharePoint has reported vulnerabilities. Last year governments from the Middle East and the Canadian government’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security warned organisations of the tool’s bugs which had adverse effects on their own systems. For companies who wish to share documents securely, SharePoint has proven itself to be an insecure option.


Businesses who are currently searching for a secure and fuss-free way to organise and share their documents should consider a DiliTrust Data Room. Our virtual Data Room is a secure space for the easy sharing of confidential digital documents. Organisations who wish to utilize a flexible solution for many types of projects across a broad spectrum of fields- from Finance to Pharmaceutical can also benefit from exacting security standards that ensure your data remains under your control.

Trusted by customers around the globe, our solution is ISO 27001 certified. Security includes data encryption, both in transit and at rest, the use of an HSM, regular audits, a strong and demanding security policy. It also includes internal security audits, code reviews and systematic tests before each new feature is released for production, automated and daily intrusion tests. DiliTrust Data Room servers are also audited once or twice a year by an external IT security organization.