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Ahead of the U.S. Elections, Is Microsoft’s Russian Hack Warning Valid?

Ahead of the U.S. Elections, Is Microsoft’s Russian Hack Warning Valid?

Redmond, Seattle – Microsoft has recently warned that Joe Biden’s campaign is being targeted by Russian state-backed hackers. These are the same bad actors who sabotaged Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign by leaking her staff’s emails.  

Allegedly, the target of these hacking attempts is SKDKnickerbocker, a campaign strategy and communications firm supporting Joe Biden. This Russian group of hackers is popularly known as “Fancy Bear.” Investigations by both the former special counsel, Robert Mueller, and the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that Fancy Bear was controlled by Russia’s military agency in 2016.

Microsoft’s warnings came only two weeks after John Ratcliffe, President Trump’s controversial pick as National Director of Intelligence, declared that intelligence agencies will no longer pass election interference information on to Congress. 

Pentagon’s Stand: 

A statement released to the Current Affairs Times from the Pentagon’s U.S. Cyber Command read in part that “The U.S. Cyber Command office’s role is not to validate threat warnings issued by industry. However, it does recognize that the private sector plays a crucial role in the whole-of-society effort to safeguard [the] election and national security.”

The office further confirmed that “The Secretary of Defense has identified election security as an enduring mission for DOD (Dept. of Defense), and Gen. Paul Nakasone’s top priority is ensuring our elections are safe, secure, and legitimate…Alongside our federal and industry partners, we will continue to defend the nation in cyberspace.” 

Microsoft’s Stance

In 2019, Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, introduced ElectionGuard — a free open-source software development kit. ElectionGuard’s design is supposed to make voting more secure, verifiable, and efficient. 

Satya Nadella did speak to Current Affairs Times about our questions but he was unable to comment on the effectiveness of the new software. Microsoft has also not been able to comment on whether ElectionGuard was used to confirm whether Biden’s campaign was being targeted by the Russians or by any other software.

Microsoft’s Media Relations Manager, Katy Lowry, reiterated Microsoft’s press release statement to Current Affairs Times  —  that the company discloses such attacks because Microsoft believes that it is important for the world to know about these threats to democratic processes. 

Microsoft has confirmed that the company has been taking extra steps to protect its customers involved in elections, government, and policymaking and the technology giant will continue to disclose significant activity in its attempt to defend democracy.

How to confirm the validity of such findings is a question that still remains unanswered.

Image Credit: Ashkan Forouzani/Unsplash

Sources:

  1. The Current Affairs Times Spoke to Russell Goemaere, Public Affairs Spokesperson at The Pentagon, and communicated with U.S.Cybercom 
  2. The Current Affairs Times Spoke To The CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella.
  3. The Current Affairs Times communicated with Microsoft’s Spokesperson Katie Lowry.
  4. ElectionGuard available today to enable secure, verifiable voting
  5. Exclusive: Microsoft believes Russians that hacked Clinton targeted Biden campaign firm – sources
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Afia is a lawyer, journalist, an avid traveler, an avid reader, a foodie, and an amateur singer. She enjoys instrumental music with her glass of wine ?

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