Hackers from Russia, China targeting US Presidential campaigns: Microsoft

Hackers from Russia, China targeting US Presidential campaigns: Microsoft

The tech giant Microsoft said on Thursday that it has spotted multiple cyberattacks from Russia, China and Iran on individuals and organisations involved in the ongoing presidential campaigns in the United States.

"In recent weeks, Microsoft has detected cyberattacks targeting people and organisations involved in the upcoming presidential election, including unsuccessful attacks on people associated with both the Trump and Biden campaigns," the company said on its blog. "The activity we are announcing today makes clear that foreign activity groups have stepped up their efforts targeting the 2020 election as had been anticipated."

Microsoft said that attackers-- the hacker groups Strontium, Zirconium and Phosphorus-- operate from Russia, China and Iran, respectively.

Among more than the 200 Strontium targets are US-based consultants serving Republicans and Democrats, think tanks, national and state political party organisations in the United States as well as political parties in the United Kingdom.

According to Microsoft, Strontium was also identified in the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report as the organisation primary responsible for the alleged attacks on the Democratic presidential campaign in 2016.

"Microsoft's Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) has observed a series of attacks conducted by Strontium between September 2019 and today," the company said.

Russia has repeatedly denied interfering in the US political system, saying the allegations have been invented to excuse Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's loss in the 2016 election as well as deflect public attention from actual instances of election fraud and corruption.

Microsoft said that China's Zirconium attacked high-profile individuals involved in the election, including people associated with Joe Biden's campaign and "prominent leaders in the international affairs community." Iran's Phosphorus continues to attack personal accounts of people associated with Donald Trump's campaign, according to the publications.

Microsoft pointed out that the majority of the attacks were detected and stopped by security tools built into its products. The company added that it has notified those who were targeted or compromised so they can take action to protect themselves.