Microsoft Says Half of State-Sponsored Hacks From Russia

State-sponsored hackers in Russia are behind more than half of all nation-state attempts at unauthorized computer access of Microsoft customers, the company said according to a report by Bloomberg.

Fifty-two percent of all unauthorized access attempts by nation-state hackers between July of 2019 and June came from Russia, the company said, with targets including U.S. presidential campaigns and the Olympics.

Microsoft said it issued 13,000 alerts to customers regarding nation-state hacking attempts over the past two years. About one-quarter of the alerts were due to action by Iran and 12% by China. The remainding 12%-13% involved North Korea and other countries, Bloomberg reported citing Microsoft data.

Besides election and political organizations, Russian hackers have attempted to invade non-profit groups, higher education and professional service organizations as well as 16 sports-related and anti-doping organizations on three continents while investigations were ongoing into Russian athletes using performance enhancing substances.

“As it stands today the attackers are winning in that they are so well resourced, so determined and so agile,” Microsoft Vice President Tom Burt said.

In recent weeks, organizations related to American politics have been common targets.

Iranian attacks have increased in the last six months, following 241 attempts from the country on Microsoft accounts associated with a U.S. presidential campaign, reporters, current or former U.S. officials and Iranians living abroad in August 2019 alone.

Only four of these attempts were successful, but Microsoft expects a surge of activity as the U.S. election approaches.

China, meanwhile, has “attempted to gain intelligence on organizations associated with the upcoming U.S. presidential election.”

Those attacks have included medical research, with multiple attempts to penetrate medical research institutions in the U.S. and Asia. One of the targets was a unidentified American university that was researching a coronavirus vaccine in March.

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