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Microsoft uncovers major hacking attempts against EU organisations

(Image credit: Image Credit: Sergei Bachlakov / Shutterstock)

Microsoft said it spotted hackers targeting ‘democratic organisations’ and non-profits, and is offering its help to keep them safe.

In a blog post (opens in new tab) detailing company findings, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security & Trust, Tom Burt, said the organisations were being targeted between September and December 2018. Among the targets were the German Council on Foreign Relations, The Aspen Institutes in Europe and The German Marshall Fund.

Microsoft spotted the hackers through its Threat Intelligence Centre and Digital Crimes Unit. It’s saying more than 100 employees in Belgium, France and Germany, but also Poland, Serbia and Romania, were under attack.

It is believed that Strontium was behind the attack. Strontium is a cybercriminal group being linked to the Russian government. You may know them as APT 28, Fancy Bear, or Sofancy.

That being said, Burt said the company will start offering AccountGuard to 12 new European markets. AccountGuard is Microsoft’s cybersecurity service, which will now be available in a bunch of EU countries, including Germany, Spain, France, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal and Slovakia.

Microsoft took the opportunity to draw everyone’s attention to the upcoming European Parliament elections, this May. It says the attack is an ‘ongoing effort’ to target democratic organisations.

“These attacks are not limited to campaigns themselves but often extend to think tanks and non-profit organizations working on topics related to democracy, electoral integrity, and public policy and that are often in contact with government officials,” Microsoft says.

Image Credit: Sergei Bachlakov / Shutterstock 

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.