By Tony Winterburn • 10 September 2020 • 22:19
Hackers who have ties to Russia, China and Iran are attempting to spy on people and groups involved with the US 2020 presidential election, Microsoft has revealed.
The Russian group which hacked the 2016 Democratic campaign is once again involved in cyber-attacks, said the global tech firm. Microsoft said it was now “clear that foreign activity groups have increased their efforts” in targeting the election. Both President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden’s campaigns are being targeted said the company.
The Microsoft corporation said that the Russian military intelligence unit that attacked the Democratic National Committee four years ago is back with a series of new, more stealthy hacks. Attacks have been specifically directed at campaign staff, consultants and think tanks associated with both Democrats and Republicans.
The revelations come one day after a government whistle-blower claimed that officials at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security suppressed intelligence concerning Russia’s continuing interference because it “made the president look bad,” and instead instructed government analysts to focus on interference by China and Iran.
Microsoft said they did find that Chinese and Iranian hackers have been active — but often not in the way that President Trump and his aides have suggested. Firms like Microsoft and Google, because they sit atop global networks, have a front-seat view of suspicious activity, and increasing motivation to make it public to warn their customers.
Microsoft said in a statement that Russian hackers from the Strontium group have targeted more than 200 organisations, many of which are linked to US political parties – both Republicans and Democrats,
“Similar to what we observed in 2016, Strontium is launching campaigns to harvest people’s log-in credentials or compromise their accounts, presumably to aid in intelligence gathering or disruption operations,” said Tom Burt, a Microsoft vice-president in charge of customer security and trust. Russian hackers were also accused of attempting to breach UK security recently in a similar attempt to alter the elections.
Spain had been alerted to the cyber threats from Russia and went through a series of network upgrades designed to thwart any attempt to penetrate its national network defences.
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