Russian hackers who violated the 2016 Democratic campaign are again involved, the tech firm said. Microsoft said it was “clear that foreign business groups have stepped up their efforts” in targeting the elections. Both the campaigns of President Donald Trump and those of Democrat Joe Biden are targets of cyberattacks. Russian hackers from the Strontium group have targeted more than 200 organizations, many of which are linked to US political parties, both Republicans and Democrats, Microsoft said in a statement.
The same cyberattacks have also targeted British political parties, Microsoft said, without specifying which ones. Strontium is also known as Fancy Bear, a cyberattack unit supposedly affiliated with the Russian military intelligence, GRU.”Similar to what we observed in 2016, Strontium is launching campaigns to collect people’s login credentials or compromise their accounts, presumably to help with data collection or disruption,” said Tom Burt, responsible vice president from Microsoft. security and customer trust.
The company said Chinese hackers launched attacks on people linked to the Biden campaign, while Iranian hackers continued their efforts against people associated with the Trump campaign.
Most of the cyber attacks were unsuccessful, according to Microsoft. Furthermore, the attacks were not launched against groups that administer the voting systems themselves. “What we have seen is consistent with previous attack patterns that not only target candidates and campaign personnel, but also those whom they consult on key issues,” Burt said. “These activities highlight the need for individuals and organizations involved in the political process to take advantage of free and low-cost security tools to protect themselves as we approach Election Day.”
Microsoft reported that Chinese groups have launched attacks on the personal email accounts of people affiliated with the Biden campaign, as well as “at least one prominent person previously associated with the Trump administration.”
China, Russia, and Iran “undermine” US elections “Prominent individuals” from the international business community, academic institutions, and political organizations are also said to have been targeted by the Chinese hacking group known as Zirconium.
The Iranian group known as Phosphorus tried unsuccessfully to access the accounts of White House officials and Trump campaign personnel between May and June of this year.
Microsoft was unable to determine the targets of the Russian, Chinese, and Iranian hackers. Google said in June that it had detected similar hacking attempts by China and Iran. Trump campaign deputy national press secretary Thea McDonald said: “We are a huge target, so it is not surprising to see malicious activity targeting the campaign or our staff.”
A Biden campaign official said: “We knew from the beginning of our campaign that we would be subject to such attacks and we are prepared for them.” The report comes the day after a whistleblower from the US Department of Homeland Security said he was under pressure to downplay the threat of Russian interference in the United States for “making the president look bad.”
Department of Homeland Security IT Director Christopher Krebs said Microsoft’s warning confirmed what the American intelligence community had already said.
“Importantly, none [of the targets] are involved in the maintenance or operation of the voting infrastructure and no impact on electoral systems has been identified,” Krebs said. On Thursday, the Trump administration accused a Russian citizen of conspiring to interfere in the US political process.
The US Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on a Moscow-related Ukrainian lawmaker, Andrii Derkach, accused of similar meddling. Derkach allegedly posted edited audio that was intended to smear Democrat Joe Biden. The tapes were promoted by President Donald Trump. The Ukrainian met with the US president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, last December. Russian hackers who violated the 2016 Democratic campaign are again involved, the tech firm said.