Russian hackers are behind most attacks on Microsoft clients


Russian-based hackers are responsible for most of the government attacks on Microsoft customers, new figures released by the company show.

The company has issued 13,000 warnings about attempted hacker attacks on its customers by government actors over the past two years, and 52 percent of incidents that occurred between July 2019 and June 2020 involved Russian hackers.

A report released on Tuesday said the hackers’ targets ranged from elections to the Olympics.

Iran accounted for a quarter of the warnings, while China accounted for 12 percent.

The rest of the activity that Microsoft has seen comes from North Korea and other countries.

According to Microsoft, Russian hackers targeted elections and political organizations in many countries, as well as non-profit organizations, professional services and universities. Kremlin-affiliated hackers have also tried to hack into the computer networks of 16 sports and anti-doping organizations on three continents amid investigations into the use of doping by Russian athletes.

“We see government actors constantly evolving, trying new methods,” said Microsoft vice president Tom Burt. “Today, the attackers are winning in terms of resource availability, they are very determined and agile.”

In recent weeks, foreign hackers have continued to target organizations linked to American politics, he said.

Iranian hackers have also stepped up, increasing their attacks in the past six months, Bert said. In August 2019 alone, Iranian hackers attacked 241 Microsoft accounts associated with the US presidential campaign, current and former US officials, political journalists and prominent Iranians who live abroad, the report said.

The hackers based in China “were trying to obtain information about organizations associated with the upcoming US presidential election,” Microsoft said. These hackers have also been involved in medical research-related cyberattacks.

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