A new round of Russian hacker attacks on American organizations was uncovered before 2018 midterm elections.
Microsoft discovered and disabled several fake websites Monday designed to trick visitors into hacking groups and allow the Russian government to hack into their computers. Two of the fake sites were designed to emulate two American conservative organizations – the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute – while three other domains were supposed to resemble the official US Senate sites.
Microsoft said a hacker group that is affiliated with the Russian military and known as strontium was behind the spoofing campaign. The group, better known as "Fancy Bear" and APT 28, has also been linked to a number of hacks in recent years, including one infrom the computer of the Democratic National Committee were stolen network in 201
Microsoft reportedly found no evidence that the fake domains were used in a successful hack. However, spoofing sites often host malware that automatically infects computers, steals emails, documents, and other sensitive information. Following the discovery of the sites, Microsoft said that it has obtained a court order to move the domains to its own server to neutralize the threat – an approach the company has used 12 times in two years to close 84 fake websites ,
"Attackers want their attacks to be as realistic as possible, so they create websites and URLs that look like websites that victims expect to receive or visit email," wrote Brad Smith on a corporate blog Post. "Last week's pages correspond to this description."
The discovery underscores the challenges facing the US in avoiding a repeat of the 2016 elections, in which Russian actors use social media to sow disunity among the Americans. Disinformation has long been part of Russia's foreign policy strategy, and social media has allowed the trolling effort to be expanded on a viral scale. US intelligence has warned Congress that these campaigns will continue in future elections .
Microsoft's revelation comes about a month after US special adviser Robert Muellerwith during the 2016 election campaign. In February, the Justice Department sued  13 Russian nationals and the Internet Research Agency arrested a group affiliated with Russian intelligence services over a propaganda campaign in social media during the 2016 elections.
A concerted effort by some of the tech industry's most influential companies to fend off foreign interference before they penetrate their platforms. Representatives of Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Schwur, Snap and Twitter met in April with US intelligence officials to discuss preparations for the midterm elections.
The US Department of Justice has also introduced a new policy Inform Americans about foreign deployments that seek to undermine confidence in US democracy. The government's plan is to notify US companies, private organizations, and individuals when a hacker threat is discovered by foreign actors.
Microsoft representatives did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
The Smartest Stuff : Innovators think about new ways to make you and the things around you smarter.
Special Reports : CNET's incoming functions in one place.