Microsoft detected Russian phishing attacks on three 2018 campaigns

21 July, 2018, 20:53 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Aspen Institute

In a panel discussion at the Aspen Institute's Security Summit yesterday, Microsoft Corporate Vice President for Customer Security and Trust Tim Burt said that in the course of hunting for phishing domains targeting Microsoft customers, members of Microsoft's security team detected a site set up by Russian actors that was being used in an attempt to target congressional candidates.

"And we saw metadata that suggested those phishing attacks were being directed at three candidates who are all standing for election in the midterm elections", he added.

Burt didn't go into details, but phishing attacks usually involve hackers sending an email to the recipients, with the goal of tricking them into visiting a webpage created to secretly install malware or fool someone into giving up their passwords.

Microsoft found attempts had been made to target staffers linked to three candidates running in the midterms. To help make its phishing pages more believable, the GRU-backed hacking crew often registers domains whose names resemble Microsoft services and then uses those to create fake login or download pages impersonating Redmond's own.

The targets, who it didn't identify, were "all people who due to their positions might have been interesting from an espionage standpoint, as well as an election disruption standpoint", Tom Burt, Microsoft's corporate vice president for customer security and trust, said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on Thursday. "We don't see the activity of them trying to infiltrate think tanks and academia and in social networks to do the research that they do to build the phishing attacks".

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Earlier this year, officials from a Tennessee US Senate campaign informed the Federal Bureau of Investigation that they feared they had been hacked, according to a copy of a letter obtained at the time by CNN.

In other words, the sort of mischief Moscow's intelligence agents got up to in 2016 to interfere with the U.S. presidential election, allegedly.

Burt noted though "that doesn't mean we're not going to see it".

Burt's comments are in the video below, at the 15:15 mark.

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