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Microsoft: Hackers Linked to Russia, China, Iran Targeting US Vote

Microsoft: Hackers Linked to Russia, China, Iran Targeting US Vote

Friday, 11 September, 2020 - 11:00
FILE PHOTO - A man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

Hackers linked to Russia, China, and Iran are trying to spy on people tied to both US President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, Microsoft Corp has said.

"In recent weeks, Microsoft has detected cyberattacks targeting people and organizations involved in the upcoming presidential election," said corporate vice president Tom Burt.

It was clear that "foreign activity groups have stepped up their efforts targeting the 2020 election as had been anticipated," according to Burt.

The attackers have targeted political operatives, think tanks, consultants and political parties in Europe as well, Microsoft said.

It identified a Russia-based group called Strontium which Burt said "has attacked more than 200 organizations," and China-based Zirconium, which he said "has attacked high-profile individuals associated with the election, including people associated with the Joe Biden for President campaign and prominent leaders in the international affairs community."

An Iran-based group dubbed Phosphorus has been targeting personal accounts of people associated with the Trump campaign, Microsoft said.

The majority of those attacks were stopped by Microsoft security tools, and those targeted or compromised were alerted, according to Burt.

Beijing on Friday denied trying to meddle in the US presidential election, accusing Microsoft of "fabrication" and "creating trouble.”

"The US presidential election is the US' internal affair," said Zhao Lijian, spokesman of the Chinese foreign ministry.

"We have no interest to interfere in it, and we never interfered in it."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said Friday that accusations that Russia used hackers to meddle in US internal affairs are "unsubstantiated.”

Lavrov said the United States itself promoted its own interests illegally. He was speaking at a news conference with his Chinese counterpart.

Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia has no intention of meddling in other countries' internal affairs and that Russia does not like it when others interfere in its affairs.

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