Microsoft Corp is claimed to have alerted an election campaign advisory firm working with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden that it had been allegedly targeted during the last two months by suspected ‘Russian state-backed hackers’, according to three sources cited by Reuters.
Staff at Washington-based public affairs and political consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker, which works with Biden and other prominent Democrats, was believed to have been the target of the attack.
The hackers, however, failed to infiltrate the company’s networks, a source is cited as saying, adding:
“They are well-defended, so there has been no breach.”
According to the report, it was unclear whether the cyberattack sought to target Joe Biden’s campaign or to gain access to information about other SKDK clients.
The managing director of SKDK, Anita Dunn, was formerly communications director during the White House tenure of Barack Obama. Dunn currently serves as a senior adviser to the Biden campaign.
After flagging the hacking attempt that reportedly included phishing, Microsoft suggested the suspected culprits were most likely connected to the Russian government, claim sources cited by the outlet.
Besides the popular hacking method that attempts to manipulate users into revealing passwords, other methods were reportedly used to try and infiltrate SKDK's network.
SKDK is closely associated with the Democratic Party, having worked on six presidential campaigns and numerous congressional races, while back in 2018 it worked on successful governor’s races in Kansas and Connecticut.
There has been no comment on the report from Microsoft.
SKDK and the Joe Biden election campaign have similarly not offered any statements in connection with the report.
Claims of Meddling
As the date of the November presidential elections in the US draws near, the country's intelligence agencies have been raising concerns over possible efforts by foreign governments to interfere in the ballot.
Earlier, in July, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden claimed he had been warned by US intelligence of foreign interference in the upcoming presidential elections.
“We know from before and I guarantee you I know now because now I get briefings again. The Russians are still engaged in trying to delegitimise our electoral process. Fact," he said during a fundraiser, as cited by The Hill.
Biden also made references to alleged interference that involves "China and others", referring to "activities that are designed for us to lose confidence in the outcome".
The allegations of ‘meddling’ come as a throwback to the 2016 US election race.
At the time, the 'Russia card' was played, as the US Democratic Party sought to explain its loss after their candidate Hillary Clinton was defeated by Republican Donald Trump, despite polls suggesting a different outcome.
In 2016, the US peddled claims that Moscow had "meddled" in the nation's presidential elections, alleging that "Russian hackers" had infiltrated the Democratic National Committee's servers.
US President Donald Trump was later accused of "collusion" with Russia. However, as the allegations were probed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the latter's report said that insufficient evidence had been found to support the claims.
Russia, for its part, has vehemently denied any interference in the US elections, calling the accusations part of America's "domestic political struggle".