According to Microsoft, hackers have targeted at least three congressional candidates before the US mid-term elections.
The revelation was made during a se3curity conference panel in Colorado by Tom Burt, an executive at the company.
he told the audience that apparently, phishing attacks looks to have targeted the three candidates.
The hacking was likely an attempt to “undermine the democratic process”, said one cybersecurity expert.
A number of new members of Congress, senators and state governors would be elected by the US voters in polls to be held on 6 November.
Following checking of fake Microsoft web domains which were linked to the alleged espionage in 2016 revealed the apparent foul play to the tech giant.
Microsoft has named a group that is associated with the act of exploiting the domains as “Strontium”. The group is also known by the name of “Fancy bear”.
The hackers have relations with the Russian intelligence, believe a number of cybersecurity companies including SecureWorks and Mandiant.
Such allegations have been consistently denied by Russia.
Burt told the Aspen Security Forum attendees: “Earlier this year, we did discover that a fake Microsoft domain had been established as the landing page for phishing attacks and we saw metadata that suggested those phishing attacks were being directed at three candidates who were all standing for election in the mid-term elections.”
This means that the cyber hackers were successful in tricking some of the candidates to visit a fake web page of Microsoft.
The affected or targeted candidates were not named by Burt but said that the candidates were all potentially “interesting targets from an espionage standpoint”.
He however said that the it had not bene possible for the hackers to accessing the three candidates and that the company had taken down the fake Microsoft domains.
Cybersecurity expert Prof Alan Woodward at the University of Surrey that gaining access to the personal messages or emails of the candidates might have been the attempt of the hackers.
“If you can grab emails… you can start making people look bad,” he said.
“I think the primary motive is to undermine the democratic process so it doesn’t matter which candidate they manage to subvert.”
When asked if he believed that that Russia was still meddling in American elections. United States President Donald Trump said “No” in comments he made to the press during his visit to Helsinki earlier in the week.
But the comment was later clarified by the press secretary of Trump – Sarah Huckabee Sanders., who claimed that the president actually said “no” to a question of whether he would be open to taking any further questions.
The attempts by Russia to try and hack targets in the US remained “persistent… regardless of whether it is election time or not”, commented the US Director of National Intelligence last week.
Prof Woodward told the BBC: “Every single intelligence agency, including the British ones, have said it’s ongoing, it’s an ongoing onslaught and the finger seems to point at Russia.”
(Adapted from BBC.com)