US elections: Microsoft detected cyber attacks from Russia and China

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The computer giant Microsoft revealed Thursday that in recent weeks it had detected cyber attacks from Russia and China, targeting people and organizations linked to the preparation of the US presidential election on November 3.

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The attacks targeted the campaign staff of President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden, Tom Burt, Microsoft’s vice president for security, said in a blog post.

The group said 200 such attacks were linked to Russian hacker groups such as Strontium, which Microsoft had already pointed out in the past.

They targeted in particular consultants, working for the Democrats as for the Republicans, but also the national organizations of the two parties as well as certain political parties in the United Kingdom.

Unsuccessful hacking attempts from China have directly targeted political figures such as Democratic candidate Joe Biden and a figure “formerly associated” with the Trump administration, according to Microsoft. A group called Zirconium would have operated nearly 150 times between March and September 2020.

“In recent weeks, Microsoft has detected cyber attacks targeting people and organizations involved in the upcoming presidential election, including unsuccessful attacks on people associated with both the Trump and Biden campaigns,” Burt said.

The group also mentions incursions from Iran that attacked the individual accounts of people around Donald Trump’s campaign.

“What we have detected is reminiscent of previous types of attacks that not only target candidates and campaign staff, but also those they consult on key issues,” notes Microsoft.

As the US presidential election approaches, Facebook and Twitter are stepping up efforts to protect their platforms from manipulation and disinformation campaigns, especially foreign ones, and avoid repeating the scandals of the 2016 polls.

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