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Microsoft: Foreign hackers are targeting Biden and Trump camps

Hackers linked to Russia, China, and Iran are trying to spy on people tied to both US President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, Microsoft Corp said on Thursday.

The report came as Reuters revealed one of Biden’s main campaign advisory firms had been warned by the software giant that it was in the crosshairs of the same Russian hackers who intervened in the 2016 US election.

The Microsoft statement highlights how advisers to both presidential campaigns are at risk from digital spies around the globe, as the two candidates face off on November 3 in one of the most consequential US presidential elections in decades.

The announcement by Microsoft’s vice president for customer security, Tom Burt, said the group accused of breaching Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails in 2016 — a Russian military intelligence-linked unit widely known as Fancy Bear — had spent the past year trying to break into accounts belonging to political consultants serving both Republicans and Democrats as well as advocacy organizations and think tanks.

Burt also said the Chinese hackers had gone after people “closely associated with the US presidential campaigns and candidates”, including an unnamed Biden ally who was targeted through a personal email address, and “at least one prominent individual formerly associated with the Trump Administration”.

He added that the Iranian hackers, which Microsoft has already called out publicly for attempts to spy on a US political campaign, that Reuters identified as being Trump’s, had since tried to log into accounts belonging to the Trump administration officials and members of the Republican president’s campaign staff.

Microsoft’s announcement was planned before Reuters broke the news that Fancy Bear was suspected of targeting Washington-based SKDKnickerbocker, a campaign strategy and communications firm working with Biden and other prominent Democrats.

Burt did not name any of the political consultants involved and Microsoft declined to comment on whether SKDK was among the consultants it had identified as targets.