Attackers used phony Microsoft site to target 2018 political candidates

TPM composite  Christine Frapech

TPM composite Christine Frapech

Microsoft found attempts had been made to target staffers linked to three candidates running in the midterms.

At the Aspen Security Forum, Microsoft disclosed on Thursday that the company identified and stopped attempts to launch cyberattacks against three 2018 candidates. "We saw metadata that suggested those phishing attacks were being directed at three candidates who are all standing for election in the midterm elections". To help make its phishing pages more believable, the GRU-backed hacking crew often registers domains whose names resemble Microsoft services and then uses those to create fake login or download pages impersonating Redmond's own. They are now working with the government to give the attackers a wide berth and avoid potential targets from getting attacked. "They tried, they weren't successful and the government security teams deserve a lot of the credit".

Burt did not specify if Microsoft believed the hackers were Russian.

Microsoft hasn't disclosed the names of the candidates who were targeted and just said they were "people who, due to their positions, might have been interesting targets from an espionage standpoint as well as an election disruption standpoint".

Last Friday, a federal grand jury handed down charges against 12 Russians accused of the infiltrating the emails and systems of Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Hillary Clinton campaign, including Clinton chairman John Podesta.

The US recently indicted 12 Russian GRU officials, 11 of whom are accused of hacking the DNC and leaking the party's emails with the goal of influencing the 2016 elections.

"We haven't seen a campaign on the scale of 2016 of concerted attacks against election infrastructure, concerted attacks against campaigns".

Despite the threat, Burt had stressed that they are not seeing a considerable success from Russia's electoral interference this time as compared to the 2016 elections.

- We have reached out to Microsoft for a clarification.

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