Tech giant Microsoft said Tuesday it has uncovered new attempts by Russian state-sponsored hacking targeting U.S. political groups ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.
In a report scheduled to be released on Tuesday, Microsoft Corp said that a hacking group directly sponsored by the Russian government created spoofing, fake internet domains purporting to be websites of the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute, two conservative American organizations.
The Hudson Institute notably promotes programs keeping an eye on the rise of Kleptocracy in global governments with Russia a prime target.
The International Republican Institute, in particular, sees some funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department that has prominently promoted democracy around the world for decades. Its board of directors include a number of Republican leaders who have frequently been critical of Trump’s exchanges with Russian president Putin.
A further three fake domains were designed to appear like they belonged to the U.S. Senate.
Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith told New York Times in an interview:
“We are now seeing another uptick in attacks. What is particular in this instance is the broadening of the type of websites they are going after.”
“These are organizations that are informally tied to Republicans,” he added further, “so we see them broadening beyond the sites they have targeted in the past.”
The hacking attempts are “most fundamentally focused on disrupting democracy,” the Microsoft executive said of the attacks which draw parallels to Russian attacks that have alleged to have helped Republican Donald Trump during the U.S. 2016 elections by smearing Hilary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for the presidency.
Microsoft called on U.S. tech companies and the federal government to cooperate in a joint effort to combat the interference into American elections. Larger technology companies have implemented “stronger information-sharing practices” in recent years, Smith said of the informal agreements.
Image credit: Pixabay.