Russian hackers targeted anti-Trump conservative think tanks

Russian hackers target Republicans in new twist on election meddling, Microsoft finds

Such fake sites can be used by hackers to try and trick users into giving up their login details, which would then give the attackers access to confidential systems and files. "We have now used this approach 12 times in two years to shut down 84 fake websites associated with this group".

Immediately after discovering the fake websites with malware, Microsoft disabled the domains and pages; however, the company says the sites were not fully completed yet, so they did not affect anyone.

The group, which is linked to Russian government intelligence agencies and which hacked during the 2016 USA presidential election, was reportedly still in the process of setting up the sites when Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit detected the malicious activity.

Microsoft's Defending Democracy Program has a four pronged priority list that includes "protecting campaigns from hacking, protecting voting and the electoral process, increasing political advertising transparency, and defending against disinformation campaigns".

The Kremlin rejected the Microsoft allegations and said there was no evidence to support them. "Who exactly are they talking about?"

In July, the country indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers for alleged interference in those elections. "Such information (proof) is lacking".

Nevertheless, memories are fresh from Russian interference in the previous round of national elections, which the the USA intelligence community has concluded were aimed at boosting Donald Trump's bid for the presidency.

"[Our] reaction is traditional", he told the Interfax news agency.

Microsoft plans to expand its MDDP services to more areas around the world as its works on adhering to new global laws such as the Digital Geneva Convention.

This time, the hacks targeted the International Republican Institute and the Hudson Institute, both of which count Republican senators among their members, as well as three websites affiliated with the Senate.

Another is similar to the domain used by the Hudson Institute, which hosts prominent discussions on topics including cybersecurity.

The Hudson Institute, which promotes American global leadership on multiple fronts, doesn't always see eye-to-eye with President Donald Trump, particularly with respect to Russian Federation.

Microsoft said the transfer control showed Strontium targeted the U.S. Senate but wasn't specific about which offices were targeted.

It came amid heightened concerns that Russians are attempting to meddle in the upcoming congressional elections in November, in which President Donald Trump's Republican Party's lock-hold on the legislature is under threat.

"Despite last week's steps, we are concerned by the continued activity targeting these and other sites and directed towards elected officials, politicians, political groups and think tanks across the political spectrum in the United States", Microsoft said. It's the latest evidence that Russian Federation has not ceased its attempts to interfere in American elections following what the country considers a very successful effort during the 2016 campaign.

"This activity today looks like run-of-the-mill spying".

But Thomas Rid, a cybersecurity expert at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said he thought the Microsoft finding as presented were nothing particularly extraordinary.

"The interesting question is if stolen information surfaces publicly or not".

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