Russian hackers caught red-handed by Microsoft in dupe website scam

A band of Russian groups attempting to attack American websites have been unearthed by Microsoft. The groups in question created fake websites designed to facilitate hacking into visitors’ computers.

Russian hackers caught red-handed by Microsoft in dupe website scam

Among the fake sites set up were a host of those designed to mimic US conservative groups, such as the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute. The lack of Democratic groups targeted is conspicuous, suggesting that hackers believe the conservative-leaning electorate to be easier targets. Meanwhile, Microsoft discovered three other sites designed to replicate official US Senate pages.

The unearthing comes during the run-up to the 2018 US midterm elections, providing an all-too chilling reminder of the hacks that took place during 2016’s presidential election. And the similarities don’t end there; the group Microsoft apprehended is linked with the Russian military, and is known colloquially as “Fancy Bear” and APT 28.

Fancy Bear were linked to the 2016 hack which saw emails and chat transcripts pilfered from the Democratic National Committee’s computer network back in 2016.

READ NEXT: How Russia hacked the 2016 US election

And that’s not all that left a sour taste in people’s mouths; 2016 saw Russian interference employ social media to manipulate the American public with misinformation and fake news. The breadth of social media permits unprecedented access to the collective psyche of the American public, and national security services have warned that this kind of malpractice will not cease in the future.

READ NEXT: Facebook admits it has power to “corrode democracy”, pledges to tackle fake news

Microsoft, for its part, has managed to neutralise the threat by moving the domains in question to its own server, something it’s done 12 times in two years to shut down the 84 known websites associated with the group.

Meanwhile, other tech giants are rallying around Bill Gates’ baby in a bid to curb Russian interference ahead of the US midterm elections. April saw Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Snap and Twitter congregate with US intelligence to discuss potential bulwarks against hacking incidents.

With US midterms looming – they’ll be (largely) held on 6 November 2018 – it’s a gratifying, if alarming, sight to see tech companies shed complacency, admit vulnerability and gird their loins. Nobody is invulnerable to hacking, and the more we acknowledge that and takes steps to redress it, the better.

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