Hackers connected to Russia, China, and Iran seek to snoop on individuals and organizations interested in the US presidential election 2020.
Microsoft said the Russian cybercrooks who compromised the Democratic campaign in 2016 are involved again in the hacking issue.
President Donald Trump and the Democrat Joe Biden’s efforts are in the hands of the hackers.
What Microsoft has to say
Microsoft said it was “clear that organisations of international involvement have stepped up their efforts” to threaten the referendum.
Top US cybersecurity officials confirmed that Microsoft found efforts of the hackers to hack email addresses of individuals and organizations affiliated with the presidential campaign. They said voting systems compromised no information.
“It is important to highlight that [hackers are not] involved in maintaining or operating voting infrastructure and there was no identified impact on election systems,” Chris Krebs, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said.
Microsoft was uncertain of their goals. Google said it discovered similar hacking attempts by China and Iran back in June.
Who are they?
Russian Strontium hackers have attacked over 200 groups. Many are related to US political parties-Republicans and Democrats alike, Microsoft said.
The same cyberattackers hacked the British political parties without mentioning which ones, Microsoft said.
“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.
The firm said that the Chinese nationals had launched attacks specific to Mr. Biden’s campaign. Iranian nationals have continued efforts to target people associated with the Trump camp.
Most of the hacks that hackers did, according to Microsoft, failed. The attacks on groups that handle the voting systems themselves did not launch.
“What [we saw] is consistent with previous attack patterns that not only target candidates and campaign staffers but also those they consult on key issues,” Mr. Burt said.
“These activities highlight the need for people and organisations involved in the political process to take advantage of free and low-cost security tools to protect themselves as we get closer to election day.”
How did the Trump administration respond?
Christopher Krebs, the top cyber official at the Department of Homeland Security, said Microsoft’s alert reinforced what the US intelligence community did.
“It is important to highlight that none [of the targets] are involved in maintaining or operating voting infrastructure and there was no identified impact on election systems,” Mr. Krebs said.
Trump administration charged a Russian hacker this week for attempting to mess with the US democratic process.
The US Treasury Department levied sanctions on Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian congressman connected to Moscow. Authorities accused Derkach of similar intrusions.
Mr. Derkach recently published distorted audio designed to discredit Democrat Joe Biden. President Donald Trump has pointed to the tapes.
How did Biden’s side respond?
A campaign official for Biden told CNN they took the alert seriously.
“We are aware of reports from Microsoft that [various has made unsuccessful attempts to access the non-campaign email accounts of individuals affiliated with the campaign,” they said.
They added they take cybersecurity seriously. “[We] will remain vigilant against these threats, and will ensure that the campaign’s assets are secured,” they said.