Microsoft Distances Itself from Destructive Malware in Ukraine – Report

Microsoft (MSFT) has detected destructive malware in systems belonging to several government agencies in Ukraine. Reuters reports that the malware was also detected in the systems of organizations that work closely with the government. MSFT shares rose 1.77% to close at $310.2 on January 14.

Microsoft is a U.S. technological company that offers software, services and solutions. It also offers personal computers, tablets and gaming consoles. The Microsoft earnings report for Fiscal Q4 2021 is scheduled for January 25, 2022. Microsoft’s dividends have increased steadily, leading to a dividend yield of 0.76%

Detected Malware

The affected systems mostly belong to government agencies that perform vital executive or emergency response services. The malware has also been detected on the systems of an Information Technology company tasked with managing public and private sector clients’ websites. Microsoft has yet to identify the IT Company involved.

The detected malware is disguised as ransomware and becomes active when activated by the attacker, rendering the infected systems inoperable. The U.S. software giant has also affirmed that the malware attacks did not emanate from any vulnerability of its products or services.

The discovery comes on the heels of a splashing of a warning on government websites threatening cyberattacks. Some websites were inaccessible on Friday. According to a senior Ukraine security official, the attack was carried out by a group linked to Belarus Intelligence, using malware similar to that used by Russian intelligence.

Stock Rating

Last week, Morgan Stanley analyst Keith Weiss reiterated a Buy rating on Microsoft stock, with a $364 price targeting implying 17.34% upside potential to current levels. According to the analyst, a recent CIO survey affirms the company’s growth and fundamental demand trends. The growth trajectory remains intact despite the rising market uncertainties.

The CIO Survey is the largest Information Technology survey in the world, with over 4,200 responses from Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and technology executive across 83 countries.

Consensus among analysts is a Strong Buy based on 24 Buys and 1 Hold. The average Microsoft price target of $373.91 implies 20.54% upside potential to current levels.

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