Microsoft seizes Russian-operated websites spoofing US conservative groups

Microsoft seizes Russian-operated websites spoofing US conservative groups

Microsoft seizes Russian-operated websites spoofing US conservative groups

Microsoft said it informed the two think tanks and both responded quickly.

Microsoft announced Tuesday that groups tied to the Russian government created fake internet sites for the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute.

In a statement, the tech giant said its digital crimes unit "executed a court order to disrupt and transfer control of six internet domains created by a group widely associated with the Russian government".

The company's announcement Tuesday that it had identified and forced the removal of fake internet domains mimicking conservative US political institutions triggered alarm on Capitol Hill and led Russian officials to accuse the company of participating in an anti-Russian "witch hunt".

The hackers created fake websites which appeared to be legitimate sites linked to the think tanks.

This kind of attack is known as "spear fishing".

Microsoft said: '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'.

A Kremlin spokesperson denied any knowledge of the alleged spear-phishing campaign.

BBC Monitoring reported him as adding: "We hear confirmation from America that there was no meddling in the election". "Who exactly are they talking about?"

"We don't understand, and there is no information, so we treat such allegations accordingly", Peskov also said.

"The Russians are seeking to disrupt and divide", Brad Smith, Microsoft's president said, according to the paper. Last month, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Miss.), who is seeking reelection, said Microsoft had uncovered an unsuccessful attempt by Russian hackers to infiltrate her Senate computer network. "The sites involved in last week's order fit this description". "These domains show a broadening of entities targeted by Strontium's activities". One appears to mimic the domain of the International Republican Institute, which promotes democratic principles and is led by a notable board of directors, including six Republican senators and a leading senatorial candidate. Another is similar to the domain used by the Hudson Institute, which hosts prominent discussions on topics including cybersecurity, among other important activities.

The hoax pages are meant to dupe users into entering their usernames and passwords for the real webpages, so the credentials can be used during attacks.

He said there was no sign the hackers were successful in persuading anyone to click on the fake websites, which could have exposed a target victim to computer infiltration, hidden surveillance and data theft.

Experts said the aim was to go after anyone who opposes Putin.

Worldwide tension over cybersecurity has escalated since the USA intelligence community concluded that Russian Federation meddled in the 2016 presidential election with the goal of hurting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

The International Republican Institute and the Hudson Institute are GOP think-tanks which have openly criticized Trump while seeking further sanctions against Moscow.

As well as the two think-tanks, the domains seized were associated with several Senate offices and services.

It also announced that it's offering free cybersecurity protection to all USA political candidates, campaigns and other political organizations, at least so long as they're already using Microsoft's Office 365 productivity software. The service, AccountGuard, is available at no extra charge to "candidates, campaigns, and related political institutions" that use Office 365, Microsoft said.

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