Microsoft has sent a warning to 10,000 users, saying their accounts have been targeted by state backed hackers. Moreover, the company confirms some of the accounts have been breached. While demoing its new ElectionGuard open-source software, Microsoft revealed nearly 84 percent of the attacks targeted businesses.
Only 16 percent of the attacks were pushed to personal email accounts. State-backed attacks are an increasing problem, according to Microsoft. As many as 1,600 personal Microsoft Account holders have been affected in recent months.
Microsoft says Iran, North Korea, and Russia are the main originators of state-sponsored hacks.
“We have seen extensive activity from the actors we call Holmium and Mercury operating from Iran, Thallium operating from North Korea, and two actors operating from Russia we call Yttrium and Strontium,” explains Tom Burt, corporate vice president for customer security and trust at Microsoft.
Burt says one of the known frequent attackers is Strontium, a Fancy Bear group from Russia that was previously involved in the 2016 Democratic National Committee hacks in the United States.
Alongside revealing 10,000 accounts have been compromised over the last year, Microsoft called for change.
“So the problem is real and unabated. It is time to find solutions,” says Burt. “Governments and civil society have important roles to play, but the tech industry also has a responsibility to help defend democracy.”
This week, Microsoft demoed its ElectionGuard voting security software.
ElectionGuard makes voting systems auditable and verifiable. Voters can track their decisions on a web portal through a unique code that is given just to them. Furthermore, users have the option of confirming their vote was correctly handled and not tampered with or wrongly counted.
The open source solution will be available to developers from GitHub and will launch later this year.