Microsoft has claimed it thwarted a Russian-backed phishing attack by seizing control of fake copies of right-leaning American think tanks' websites - including one led by a prominent Donald Trump critic.
The New York Times reported that some of the sites that were targeted were the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute, think tanks that have disagreed with President Trump on ending Russian sanctions.
Microsoft has used the same approach a dozen times in two years to shut down 84 fake websites associated with this group, Smith said. "From the U.S., we hear that there was not any meddling in the elections". We don't understand what the proof and the basis is for them drawing these kind of conclusions. They included such innocuous domains as senate.group and office365-onedrive.com.
The other was the Hudson Institute, which supports keeping up economic and political pressure on Russian Federation and strengthening North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - positions that leaves it generally at odds with US President Donald Trump.
The International Republican Institute is led by a board that includes six Republican senators, as well as prominent Russian Federation critic Mitt Romney, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat in Utah this autumn. But Microsoft said it's found no evidence so far that the half-dozen domains in the latest case were employed in successful attacks, nor who any intended targets may have been.
Microsoft calls the hacking group Strontium; others call it Fancy Bear or APT28.
DCU president Brad Smith announced the discoveries in a blog post Monday evening, saying that his team has been in close contact with the Senate's IT department, and will continue to monitor all affiliated domains.
"It is clearly created to sow confusion, conflict and fear among those who criticize Mr. Putin's authoritarian regime", Twining told The Washington Post.
Microsoft said it is working with the International Republican Institute, Hudson Institute, and other targeted organizations on countering threats to their systems. The company said it's been monitoring domain activity with U.S. Senate IT staff for months, after previously uncovering attempted attacks on the staff of two senators.
That technique is known as spear-phishing, which the same hackers are accused of using during the 2016 election to illegally obtain emails from Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton to headline trio of DNC fundraisers: report Allegations of "Trump TV" distract from real issues at Broadcasting Board of Governors Chelsea Clinton: Politics a "definite maybe" in the future MORE's presidential campaign and the DNC.
As part of its efforts to combat election meddling, Microsoft launched a new AccountGuard service, which will be available at no cost to candidates running for federal, state, or local office.