Published: Fri, February 22, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Microsoft expands protection tool for European democratic institutions | #104141

Microsoft expands protection tool for European democratic institutions | #104141

The company said a group it calls Strontium, known to security firms and government agencies as Fancy Bear or APT28 and widely believed to be linked to Russian intelligence, is behind the attacks.

Microsoft said the attacks occurred between September and December and took the form of spearfishing campaigns.

Data on attacks in cyberspace got center Corporation engaged in the exploration in the field of security threats, and the unit for combating digital crime.

The organizations they targeted largely focus on transatlantic policy issues, democracy and electoral integrity, and are seen as valuable for hackers as they often have close contact with government officials.

"The attacks against these organisations, which we're disclosing with their permission, targeted 104 accounts belonging to organisation employees located in Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, and Serbia", said Burt.

With EU elections coming up in May, and the United States presidential elections due to take place next year, Microsoft said it is now "critical that organisations underpinning the democratic process have access to state-of-the-art cybersecurity protection". It says the attack is an "ongoing effort" to target democratic organisations.

Former US vice president Joe Biden backed Rasmussen in warning of "cyber attacks, dark money influence operations and disinformation" used by "Russian but also other actors".

The service is now available in France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia, and Spain.

The biggest vote in the EU this year is the 2019 European Parliament election, scheduled in May.

That being said, Burt said the company will start offering AccountGuard to 12 new European markets. Microsoft said more than 100 employees were targeted.

The attack methods deployed by the hackers were consistent with similar campaigns launched against US-based institutions where attackers utilized malicious URLs and spoofed email addresses to appear legitimate. A spokesperson for the German Council on Foreign Relations confirmed that the organisation was "the target of cyberattacks during a limited period in the past year".

Microsoft has been tracking the increase in hacking attempts by nation states, including Russian actors, as part of its Defending Democracy Program, which it announced a year ago to provide protection to candidates, political parties and nongovernmental organisations working in the field of elections.

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