Microsoft recently revealed that “it was clear that foreign activity groups have stepped up their efforts targeting the election.”
A group of top-notch hackers having ties with Iran, Russia, and China, attempts to snooping on a group of entities involved directly or indirectly with the 2020 presidential elections in the US.
rupturing the previous elections of 2016 and the democratic campaign of that time seem to be involved with the present scenario as specified by the US’s tech firm. With this, it comes out that cyber raiders have their eyes on both the campaigns lead by current President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden’s opposition.
As disclosed by the Microsoft team, the Russian hackers have already targeted around 200+ organizations, out of which most of them link with both the political parties of the US. Also, Microsoft added that this is the same group of hackers who earlier targeted Britain’s political parties.
The team of hackers is also expected to be from the Strontium group. Strontium, also known as a Fancy Bear, is a cyber-attack unit linked with the military intelligence service of Russia, GRU.
However, both Russia and China denied revelation reports. A spokesperson of President Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, mentioned on Friday that the Kremlin never tries interfering in the elections of other nations. Also, Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of China’s foreign ministry, added that “Microsoft should not make accusations against China out of nothing.“
Everything that Microsoft said:
The vice-president and in charge of Microsoft’s customer security and trust, Tom Burt, disclosed that “Like 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. We’ve seen consistent with previous attack patterns that target not only candidates and campaign staffers but also those they consult on key issues“.
However, Microsoft also disclosed that most cyberattacks get failed, but there must be precautions taken for every case.
Mr. Tom Burt also added that “These activities highlight the need for people and organizations involved in the political process to take advantage of free and low-cost security tools to protect themselves.”
Microsoft also unveiled that Chinese groups targeted and attacked the people’s email accounts related to the campaign of Joe Biden, and added that it must have targeted “at least one prominent individual formerly associated with the Trump Administration.”
Zirconium, a hacking group of China, seems to have also targeted “Prominent Individuals” associated with the international affairs community, policy organizations, and academic institutions.
Apart from the Russian and Chinese groups, Phosphorus, a hacker group of Iran, successfully hacked the White House officers’ accounts and the campaign staff of Mr. Trump. They accessed all the accounts between May 2020 and June 2020, as revealed by Microsoft.
The aim of the hackers from the three nations is not disclosed by the firm yet. Additionally, Google also detected the attempts of cyber attacks by Iran and China in June 2020.
The deputy press secretary of Mr. Trump’s campaign, Thea McDonald, mentioned that “We are a large target, so it is not surprising to see malicious activity directed at the campaign or our staff.”
An official of Biden’s campaign also added that “We have known from the beginning of our campaign that we would be subject to such attacks and we are prepared for them.”
The reports disclosed one day after the claim by the US Department of Homeland Security’s whistle-blower about the pressure imposed on him and the threat that might be there on the US by Russian interference.
The bipartisan Issue:
In the matter of the elections, the interference is a bipartisan issue. To avoid the threats to the democratic processes and ensure the nation’s privacy, others, including the Intelligence agencies, are working day and night.
Even though several associations stay involved in taking the required measures, the government will take the necessary actions. Mr. Tom Burt also specified in the post, encouraging the government to pass more funds to protect the election infrastructures.
He moved ahead intending to encourage the nations to assure security and peace in the cyber world via several initiatives.
The response of Trump’s administration:
Christopher Krebs, the Department of Homeland Security’s top cyber official, specified that whatever the US Intelligence Community mentioned is all confirmed by Microsoft. With this, he vocalized that “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.“
A Russian national was also charged previously on Thursday by Trump’s administration for plotting about the interference in the US’s political processes. A Ukrainian lawmaker, based out of Moscow, Andrii Derkach, was also accused of the treasure department.
It was then disclosed that some edited audios were purposely released by Andrii Derkach intending to mark the Democrat Joe Biden. It was also mentioned that Mr. Trump touted the recording.
Statements by the US Intelligence:
The US Intelligence community mentioned in August that Iran, China, and Russia actively tried meddling in the upcoming elections in the US.
As assessed, Russia was found intending on criticizing Mr. Joe Biden. Additionally, Mr. Trump was a target by China and Iran, and both of them wanted him to lose the elections.
The US Intelligence also warned that Iran might try undermining the democratic institutions and the current President by several online contents.
All about the happenings of 2016:
Previously in 2016, Russia attempted to influence the elections that turned out to become a hoax by the President’s supporters. Microsoft also found that this interference was a bipartisan issue, and both Republicans and the Democrats are at high risk.
Later on, it was concluded by the US Intelligence in 2016 too that Russia was behind the efforts for undermining the Presidential run of Hillary Clinton. For this, Russian targeted social media and released several fake news and stories and came up with multiple cyber attacks.
An investigation by Robert Mueller, a Special Counsel, unveiled that Russian hackers gained complete access to the systems of the Democratic National Committee and the personal emails of the chair campaigns of Hillary Clinton, John Podesta. Thousands of emails regarding the campaigns were leaked too during that period.
Later, Facebook confirmed that the content that was backed by Russia during the 2016’s elections reached around 126 million Americans via Facebook’s platforms.