In a move that has been described as unprecedented, the FBI obtained a court order that allowed it to remove a backdoor program from hundreds of private Microsoft Exchange servers that were hacked through zero-day vulnerabilities earlier this year. The operation shows that the FBI is ready to take a more active approach in responding to cyber threats that goes beyond its traditional investigatory role, but also raises questions about where the limits should be with such actions.

Why is the FBI cleaning Exchange servers?

Earlier this week, the Department of Justice announced that the FBI was granted a search and seizure warrant by a Texas court that allows the agency to copy and remove web shells from hundreds of on-premise Microsoft Exchange servers owned by private organizations. A web shell is a type of program that hackers install on hacked web servers to grant them backdoor access and remote command execution capabilities on those servers through a web-based interface.

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