Researchers at Microsoft have observed an attack phishing campaign by Russia’s SVR that’s targeting resellers and managed service providers. Microsoft tracks this threat actor as “Nobelium,” and notes that this is the same actor that was behind the SolarWinds attacks.

“Nobelium has been attempting to replicate the approach it has used in past attacks by targeting organizations integral to the global IT supply chain,” Microsoft stated. “This time, it is attacking a different part of the supply chain: resellers and other technology service providers that customize, deploy and manage cloud services and other technologies on behalf of their customers. We believe Nobelium ultimately hopes to piggyback on any direct access that resellers may have to their customers’ IT systems and more easily impersonate an organization’s trusted technology partner to gain access to their downstream customers.

Microsoft says at least 140 entities have been targeted in this campaign, with 14 being compromised.

“We began observing this latest campaign in May 2021 and have been notifying impacted partners and customers while also developing new technical assistance and guidance for the reseller community,” Microsoft says. “Since May, we have notified more than 140 resellers and technology service providers that have been targeted by Nobelium. We continue to investigate, but to date we believe as many as 14 of these resellers and service providers have been compromised.”

The researchers note that Nobelium isn’t using sophisticated techniques to gain access, and is simply relying on phishing and password spraying.

“The attacks we’ve observed in the recent campaign against resellers and service providers have not attempted to exploit any flaw or vulnerability in software but rather used well-known techniques, like password spray and phishing, to steal legitimate credentials and gain privileged access,” Microsoft says. “We have learned enough about these new attacks, which began as early as May this year, that we can now provide actionable information which can be used to defend against this new approach.”

Again, informed and resistant users are the best protection against attacks that rely on social engineering. New-school security awareness training can give your organization an essential layer of defense by teaching your employees to follow security best practices.