China accused of launching US Presidential Election cyberattacks

Russia and Iran are also singled out in digital spying allegations in a report released by Microsoft

State-run hacking campaigns by China are trying to destabilize democracy and interfere in November’s Presidential Election in the United States.

A report released by US tech giant Microsoft warned that advisers close to American President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden are also being targeted by foreign cyberspies from Russia and Iran.

“In recent weeks, Microsoft has detected cyberattacks targeting people and organizations involved in the upcoming presidential election, including unsuccessful attacks on people associated with both the Trump and Biden campaigns,” Tom Burt, the vice-president for customer security at Microsoft, said in detailing the study.

‘High-profile individuals’

“Zirconium, operating from China, has attacked high-profile individuals associated with the election, including people associated with the Joe Biden for President campaign and prominent leaders in the international affairs community,” he added.

Burt’s comments illustrate how advisers to both presidential campaigns are at risk from digital dirty tricks even though Beijing and Moscow have denied the “allegations.” 

“Strontium, operating from Russia, has attacked more than 200 organizations, including political campaigns, advocacy groups, parties, and political consultants, while Phosphorus, operating from Iran, has continued to attack the personal accounts of people associated with the Donald Trump for President campaign,” he said.

Microsoft warning

Christopher Krebs, the senior official at the US Department of Homeland Security, confirmed that Microsoft’s warning was consistent with earlier statements issued by the American intelligence community.

“[But] it is important to highlight that none are involved in maintaining or operating voting infrastructure and there was no identified impact on election systems,” he said.