While it may have (probably did) happened before, hackers influencing a political election only became clear in the 2016 US Presidential Elections. It has caused a storm in the United States since, but it is probably something we have to get used to. Indeed, a Microsoft executive says at least three 2018 midterm Congressional candidates have already been targeted.
Tom Burt, corporate vice president for customer security and trust for Microsoft, was speaking during a panel at the Aspen Security Forum. He said the company has tracked three attempts from hackers to use a Microsoft Account to target candidates.
“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 midterm elections,” Burt said.
The situation is similar to 2016, when the company tracked attempts to use fake Microsoft domains for hacking. At the time, the attempts came from a hacking group called “Strontium”. This is the same group that reportedly targeted the Democratic National Committee in 2016.
Tied to the Russian government and intelligence agencies, the group has been accused of influencing the 2016 presidential race. So much so, an investigation is underway to determine if Donald Trump had any involvement in the plot.
At the Aspen Security Forum, Burt says Microsoft continues to work directly with US law enforcement agencies to stop such attacks. While stopping short of naming the targeted candidates, he did say that all attacks had been unsuccessful.
President Trump roused controversy this week when he said he did not believe Russia was still involved in hacking American elections. That assessment drew gasps from the global community and in the United States.
Intelligence agencies in the country are in no doubt that Russia was involved in election tampering. Trump’s assertion that the country was not involved caused him to issue an apology this week.