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Microsoft stops Russian hacking of conservative groups

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security hackers cyber

Microsoft has revealed that it has recently prevented hackers associated with Russian government from trying to steal user information from conservative groups that promote democracy and advocate for cybersecurity, according to a Reuters report.

In a blog posted on Monday, the firm elaborated that its digital crimes unit (DCU) acted on a court order last week, disrupting and transferring control of a total of six internet domains created by a group known as Strontium, also known as Fancy Bear or APT28, which is associated with the Russian government.

Microsoft wrote in the blog, “We’re concerned that these and other attempts pose security threats to a broadening array of groups connected with both American political parties in the run-up to the 2018 elections.”

“Microsoft’s announcement comes amid increasing cyber-tensions between Moscow and Washington and rising concerns regarding security ahead of the 2018 mid-term elections in the United States,” reported Reuters.

A federal grand jury in the US indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers earlier in July on charges of hacking the computer networks of 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, according to Reuters.

According to media reports, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election and whether the campaign of Republican candidate Donald Trump colluded with Moscow. Russia denies meddling in the elections while President Trump has denied any collusion.

As per the Reuters report, the attackers created websites to mimic three U.S. Senate websites along with the Microsoft’s Office 365 website and the sites of International Republican Institute and the Hudson Institute.

The International Republican Institute promotes democratic principals around the globe and has a board of directors that includes six Republican senators and a senatorial candidate, said Reuters.

The attackers created websites and URLs that closely resembled the sites that their victims would expect to receive email from or visit, Microsoft said. The type of attack is known as “spear fishing,” in which the hackers trick victims to enter their user name and password into the fake site in order to steal their credentials.

“To be clear, we currently have no evidence these domains were used in any successful attacks before the DCU transferred control of them, nor do we have evidence to indicate the identity of the ultimate targets of any planned attack involving these domains,” Microsoft said on the blog.

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