MICROSOFT has warned 10,000 people that hackers from Iran, North Korea and Russia are targeting their emails and accounts.
The tech giant also highlighted that nation-state hackers are focusing on NGOs and think tanks in the US in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.
Hackers from Iran, North Korea and Russia are targeting Microsoft users[/caption]
In the past year, Microsoft revealed 1,600 personal Microsoft accounts have been breached in hack attacks.
And a further 8,400 business accounts were compromised – revealing the huge scale of the hacking campaign.
Hackers from Iran, North Korea and Russia are behind the majority of the attacks, according to Microsoft.
“We have seen extensive activity from the actors we call Holmium and Mercury operating from Iran, Thallium operating from North Korea, and two actors operating from Russia we call Yttrium and Strontium,” explains Tom Burt, corporate vice president for customer security and trust at Microsoft.
Microsoft says the findings prove cyberattacks continue to be a significant tool and weapon wielded in cyberspace.
In many instances, the attacks appear to be related to ongoing efforts to attack the democratic process – especially in the US.
Microsoft launched AccountGuard, a threat notification service, last August and it is now used by 26 countries across four continents.
The service has picked up 781 nation-state attacks targeting organisations participating in AccountGuard in the past year.
In a chilling warning to US politics, Microsoft pointed out that 95% of these attacks have targeted US-based organizations.
Microsoft said the democracy-focused attacks reflect a pattern observed in the early stages of some previous elections.
“In this pattern, a spike in attacks on NGOs and think tanks that work closely with candidates and political parties, or work on issues central to their campaigns, serve as a precursor to direct attacks on campaigns and election systems themselves,” a spokesman said.
“We saw such attacks in the US presidential election in 2016 and in the last French presidential election.”
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In 2018, Microsoft announced attacks targeting, among others, leading US senatorial candidates and think tanks associated with key issues at the time.
Earlier this year the company reported attacks targeting democracy-focused NGOs in Europe close to European elections.
Microsoft said it expects to see attacks targeting US election systems, political campaigns or NGOs that work closely with campaigns ahead of the 2020 election.