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In a nutshell: The US election is almost here, and it appears that once again, Russian interference is going to be a problem. A new report claims the same state-backed hackers blamed for breaking into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2016 have targeted one of Joe Biden’s campaign advisory firms.
According to Reuters, Microsoft warned the campaign strategy and communications firm, called SKDKnickerbocker, that its staff had been targeted using various phishing techniques to try and infiltrate the company’s network.
The attacks took place over the last two months, but a person familiar with the matter said the attempts failed, adding that the firm’s networks “are well-defended, so there has been no breach.”
Based on an analysis of its hacking techniques and network infrastructure, Microsoft identified the group as the same one behind the 2016 attack on the DNC that resulted in emails from Hilary Clinton’s staff being leaked. The notorious Fancy Bear, which goes by several aliases, is believed to work at the behest of Russia’s military intelligence agency.
Fancy bear, as imagined by Crowdstrike
Last year’s report by former special counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate intelligence committee concluded that groups affiliated with the Russian government did interfere with the 2016 election process.
Tech giants and US agencies are expecting attempted election interference from Russian-backed groups this year and have been preparing. Facebook, the favored platform for spreading disinformation, says it has been working on “election security areas” since 2018.
In a somewhat ironic turn of events, Russia last year accused Facebook and Google of interfering in its elections.