Microsoft prevented hack that could’ve impacted 2020 election

Microsoft revealed it has stopped a hacking operation that could have indirectly impacted the 2020 presidential election

In a new report, Microsoft revealed it prevented a hacking scheme that could have indirectly affected the 2020 presidential election.

According to CNN Business, the tech company took down the servers behind Trickbot, a malware network that criminals were using to launch cyberattacks.

This included a strain of ransomware the outlet deemed “highly potent.” Microsoft said it obtained a federal court order to disable IP addresses associated with Trickbot’s servers.

Bill Gates Steps Down From Microsoft's Board
A signage of Microsoft is seen on March 13, 2020 in New York City. Co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft Bill Gates steps down from Microsoft board to spend more time on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)

CNN Business said that Microsoft worked with telecom providers globally in the takedown.

According to Microsoft, Trickbot provided a platform for hackers to market services to other hackers, “offering them the capability to inject vulnerable computers, routers and other devices with malware.”

Read More: 2020 election targeted by Russian, Chinese and Iranian hackers, Microsoft says

The outlet reported these purchases included ransomware, which Microsoft and US officials warned could pose a risk to websites that display election information or third-party software vendors that service election officials.

“Adversaries can use ransomware to infect a computer system used to maintain voter rolls or report on election-night results, seizing those systems at a prescribed hour optimized to sow chaos and distrust,” Microsoft VP of security Tom Burt wrote in a blog post.

According to CNN, Trickbot spread ransomware which experts say has been attacking 20 organizations per week, and that Trickbot has been used to spread false emails containing malware attempting to lure victims in with messaging involving subjects such as Black Lives Matter and Covid-19.

Microsoft said Trickbot has reached more than 1 million devices across the world since 2016 and that services have been used in both governments and criminal organizations.

Trickbot was used in an attack against Universal Health Services. According to The Washington Post the cyber attack forced medical facilities and professionals to use manual systems and paper records.

Patients were reportedly sent to other emergency rooms and experienced test result delays. The Post named a woman in Germany the first death linked to ransomware after the hospital she went to for a medical emergency sent her to a different location due to the ransomware. She died before reaching the alternate facility.

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“Right now, my top priority is for a safe, secure, and legitimate 2020 election,” said Gen. Paul Nakasone, the head of Cyber Command, to the Post.

“The Department of Defense, and Cyber Command specifically, are supporting a broader ‘whole-of-government’ approach to secure our elections.”

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