Backed hackers are targeting the 2020 USA elections


Hackers linked to Russia, China and Iran are trying to spy on people tied to both US President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, Microsoft says.

Burt also said Chinese hackers had gone after people "closely associated with USA presidential campaigns and candidates" - including an unnamed Biden ally who was targeted through a personal email address and "at least one prominent individual formerly associated with the Trump Administration".

The Microsoft report said Chinese hackers targeted Joe Biden's campaign, through non-campaign email accounts belonging to people associated with the campaign.

It said that Strontium, a group operating from Russian Federation, has attacked more than 200 organizations including consultants serving Republicans and Democrats, and US-based think tanks since September 2019.

According to Microsoft, the Russian hackers have been busy in the past year trying to infiltrate more than 200 organizations directly or indirectly tied to the U.S. election or other political groups. The group appears to have returned: Microsoft found that the organization has recently targeted national and state parties in the USA and consultants who work for Republicans and Democrats. The process is sped up with the use of automated tools, which can input the login attempt from a constantly rotating list of IP addresses.

Their efforts are focused on stealing the targets' credentials and compromising their accounts to potentially disrupt this year's United States elections and to harvest intelligence to be used as part of future attacks.

Microsoft alerted the Biden campaign that the hacking attempt was directed at employees of SKDKnickerbocker (SKDK), a campaign strategy and communications firm that has worked with Biden's team for the past two months, Reuters reported, citing three unidentified sources.

Mr Biden's campaign said it was aware a foreign actor had tried and failed to access non-campaign email accounts of individuals working with it.

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According to Microsoft, Zirconium, operating from China, has mounted thousands of attacks between March and September, leading to almost 150 compromises.

The US Presidential campaign is being targeted by hackers from Russian Federation and China, according to Microsoft.

The findings align with USA intelligence, which also concludes Russia, China, and Iran are making covert attempts to interfere in the upcoming election.

Most of the cyber-attacks had not been successful, according to Microsoft. The company would not comment on who may have been successfully hacked or the impact.

The announcement came as Twitter said it would implement a policy next week to remove "false or misleading information meant to undermine public confidence in an election", including unverified claims of victory; and Google said it would take steps to ensure its "autocomplete" search feature doesn't make such misguided suggestions. The company said it notified all affected clients of the attempted hacks, adding that the scale of attacks is larger than Microsoft has detected in recent years.

"Our adversaries are continuously looking for vulnerable US networks to exploit, and networks associated with political organizations and campaigns are no exception", the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement on Thursday.

"The announcement is consistent with earlier statements by the Intelligence Community on a range of malicious cyber activities targeting the 2020 campaign and reinforces that this is an all-of-nation effort to defend democracy", Krebs said in a statement.