Microsoft Says They Stopped Hacking Attempts of Congressional Candidates; First Since 2016

Microsoft on Thursday stated that it identified and helped neutralize hacking attempts on three congressional candidates earlier this year, marking the first publicly known hacking efforts targeting candidates in the 2018 midterm elections, Politico reported.

“Earlier this year, we did discover that a fake Microsoft domain had been established as the landing page for phishing attacks,” Tom Burt, Microsoft’s Vice President for Security and Trust, said at the Aspen Security Forum.

“And we saw metadata that suggested those phishing attacks were being directed at three candidates who are all standing for election in the midterm elections,” he added.

Burt also said that Microsoft together with the government managed to take the domain down and block the phishing messages.

Although the tech giant executive did not disclose the names of the candidates targeted he said that they were “people who, because of their positions, might have been interesting targets from an espionage standpoint as well as an election disruption standpoint.”

In 2016 the same type of strategy was used by hackers in order to gain access into Democratic National Committee servers.

Burt did not disclose if Microsoft has information that the hackers were Russian. However, he stated that analysts report fewer instances of Russian hacking attempts than in 2016.

“The consensus of the threat intelligence community right now is that we’re not seeing the same level of activity by the Russian activity groups,” he said. “We don’t see the activity of them trying to infiltrate think tanks and academia and in social networks to do the research that they do to build the phishing attacks.”

“That doesn’t mean we’re not going to see it. There’s a lot of time left before the election,” he added.

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