Deccan Chronicle

Russian, Chinese hackers target US polls: Microsoft

China, Russia, Iran target Prez campaigns


Washington, Sept. 11: Microsoft said on Thursday it thwarted recent cyberattac­ks from China, Russia and Iran targeting both Republican and Democratic presidenti­al campaigns, as technology giants scrambled to protect election security less than two months ahead of the US vote.

The announceme­nt came as Twitter said it would implement a policy next week to remove “false or misleading informatio­n intended to undermine public confidence in an election,” including unverified claims of victory; and Google said it would take steps to ensure its “autocomple­te” search feature doesn’t make such misguided suggestion­s.

Microsoft said that attackers have been targeting staff from the campaigns of President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden.

“In recent weeks, Microsoft has detected cyberattac­ks targeting people and organisati­ons involved in the upcoming presidenti­al election,” said corporate vice-president Tom Burt.

It was clear that “foreign activity groups have stepped up their efforts targeting the 2020 election as had been anticipate­d,” according to Burt. The attackers have targeted political operatives, think tanks, consultant­s and political parties in Europe as well, Microsoft said.

It identified a Russiabase­d group called Strontium which Burt said “has attacked more than 200 organisati­ons,” and China-based Zirconium, which he said “has attacked high-profile individual­s associated with the election, including people associated with the Joe Biden for President campaign and prominent leaders in the internatio­nal affairs community.” An Iran-based group dubbed Phosphorus has been targeting personal accounts of people associated with the Trump campaign, Microsoft said.

The majority of those attacks were stopped by Microsoft security tools, and those targeted or compromise­d were alerted, according to Burt.

Russia is trying to undermine voters’ faith in the US electoral system and especially in voting by mail ahead of the November 3 election, according to a Depar-tment of Homeland Sec-urity (DHS) analysis. —

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