Russian Hackers Stopped by Microsoft in U.S Political Group Hack Attempts

This news comes at a time where Donald Trump is under heavy scrutiny regarding Trump’s possible involvement with the Russians in an attempt to meddle with Clinton’s campaign during the past election. The hacking group call themselves, ‘Strontium’ but they are more commonly known as ‘Fancy Bear’.

According to the tech giant, the hacking group had created a number of fake internet domains that would make them look identical to two American conservative organisations: the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute.

The other domains were designed to look as though they were owned by the US Senate.

It’s believed the attacks were carried out by the Russian hacking group known as Fancy Bear.

An indictment from US special counsel Robert Mueller has tied it to Russian’s main intelligence agency, known as the GRU, and to the 2016 email hacking of both the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

“We have no doubt in our minds” who is responsible, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer said..

Microsoft has argued in court that by setting up fake but realistic-looking domains, the hackers were misusing Microsoft trademarks and services to hack into targeted computer networks, install malware and steal sensitive emails and other data.

Mr Smith also announced on Tuesday that the company is offering free cybersecurity protection to all US political candidates, campaigns and other political organisations, at least so long as they are already using Microsoft’s Office 365 productivity software

The revelation came just weeks after a similar Microsoft discovery led Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who is running for re-election, to reveal that Russian hackers tried unsuccessfully to infiltrate her Senate computer network.

The hacking attempts mirror similar Russian attacks ahead of the 2016 election, which US intelligence officials have said were focused on helping to elect Republican Donald Trump to the presidency by hurting his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

This time, more than helping one political party over another, “this activity is most fundamentally focused on disrupting democracy”, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, said in an interview this week.

Mr Smith said there is no sign the hackers were successful in persuading anyone to click on the fake websites, which could have exposed a target victim to computer infiltration, hidden surveillance and data theft.

The International Republican Institute is led by a board that includes six Republican senators, and one prominent Russia critic and Senate hopeful, Mitt Romney, who is running for a Utah seat this fall

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