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Microsoft: Russian Hackers Targeted Conservative Groups

Latest attack described as 'focused on disrupting democracy'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 21, 2018 4:00 AM CDT
Updated Aug 21, 2018 5:44 AM CDT
This screenshot from 2016 shows the Fancy Bears website fancybear.net on a computer screen in Moscow, Russia.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
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(Newser) – Microsoft says it has uncovered new Russian hacking attempts targeting US political groups ahead of the midterm elections. The company said Tuesday that a hacking group tied to the Russian government created fake internet domains that appeared to spoof two American conservative organizations: the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute, the AP reports. Three other fake domains were designed to look as if they belonged to the US Senate. The revelation came just weeks after a similar Microsoft discovery led Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who is running for re-election, to reveal that Russian hackers tried unsuccessfully to infiltrate her Senate computer network.

The hacking attempts mirror similar Russian attacks ahead of the 2016 election, but this time, more than helping one political party over another, "this activity is most fundamentally focused on disrupting democracy," says Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer. He says there is no sign the hackers were successful in persuading anyone to click on the fake websites. Microsoft calls the hacking group Strontium; others call it Fancy Bear or APT28. An indictment from Robert Mueller has tied it to Russian's main intelligence agency, known as the GRU, and to the 2016 email hacking of both the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. "We have no doubt in our minds" who is responsible, Smith says.

(Read more Russian hackers stories.)

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