Microsoft Reports New Cyberattacks Against U.S. Elections

The firm identified three groups responsible for the attacks originating from Russia, China and Iran.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Russian hackers have been in the news a lot lately and not for good reasons. About a month ago it was reported that they were trying to steal western coronavirus research and two weeks ago the FBI foiled a Russian attempt to hack into a Tesla factory.


Now, Microsoft is reporting that the same Russian hackers who messed with the 2016 election could be toying with the 2020 one. But this time it's not only the Russians that are involved, China and Iran may be conducting some illegal activities at well.

"Microsoft has detected cyberattacks targeting people and organizations involved in the upcoming presidential election, including unsuccessful attacks on people associated with both the Trump and Biden campaigns, as detailed below. We have and will continue to defend our democracy against these attacks through notifications of such activity to impacted customers, security features in our products and services, and legal and technical disruptions," wrote the firm in its blog.

In particular, Microsoft identified three groups that were responsible for the cyberattacks: Strontium, operating from Russia, Zirconium, operating from China, and Phosphorus, operating from Iran. The firm further emphasized that the attacks were thwarted by security tools built into their products.

Microsoft directly informed those who were targeted or compromised so they can take action to protect themselves and received permission to name the impacted customers. The firm added that these new attacks were consistent with previous ones that not only targeted candidates but also those they consult. Microsoft further urged organizations and individuals "to take advantage of free and low-cost security tools" to protect themselves. 

"We disclose attacks like these because we believe it’s important the world knows about threats to democratic processes. It is critical that everyone involved in democratic processes around the world, both directly or indirectly, be aware of these threats and take steps to protect themselves in both their personal and professional capacities," added Microsoft.

Finally, the firm indicated that they believed more federal funding is needed to address these ongoing issues and adequately prepare for potential attacks.

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