Microsoft says it has taken down six malicious websites targeting American politics that had been maintained by the same Russian military intelligence agency that hacked and leaked Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 election.
In an announcement published at midnight Tuesday, Microsoft said it convinced a court last week to seize six domains created by the GRU, Russia’s main foreign intelligence agency. Three of those sites mimicked the US Senate site, one a generic Microsoft site, and the other two were made to look like the sites of Washington think tanks, the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute.
The news comes on the heels of Microsoft’s acknowledgments that it has interrupted previous attacks targeting the staffs of several congressional candidates. At least one US senator, Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, and two defeated House candidates in California, David Min and Hans Keirstead, have recently said they had been targeted.
It’s not uncommon for government-sponsored hackers to target lawmakers for the purposes of gathering intelligence. But the GRU is the only known government agency that not only regularly hacks politicians, but also sometimes strategically releases what it finds. Clinton has blamed her 2016 presidential loss in part on her hacked emails, which were leaked to WikiLeaks and regularly doled out to the public for weeks before the election. The GRU has also been accused of releasing emails from French President Emmanuel Macron’s campaign right before that country’s presidential election in 2017.
Political campaigns are a particularly ripe…