Microsoft identified a suspected hacking group that targeted a firm working with Democrat Joe Biden as the same Russian-backed unit blamed by the US government for breaking into the campaign of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to sources briefed on a Microsoft analysis.
The hacking attempts targeted staff at Washington-based SKDKnickerbocker, a campaign strategy and communications firm working with 2020 presidential election hopeful Biden and other prominent Democrats over the past two months, the sources said.
SKDK Vice Chair Hilary Rosen declined to comment. The Biden campaign said it was aware Microsoft said a foreign actor tried and failed to access “non-campaign email accounts of individuals affiliated with the campaign.” Microsoft, which shared its assessment with SKDK of Russian state-backer hackers targeting the firm, declined to comment.
The Russian hacking group, which cyber researchers call “Fancy Bear,” is controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency, according to US intelligence community reports released after the 2016 election.
A person familiar with SKDK’s response to the attempts said the hackers failed to gain access to the firm’s networks. “They are well-defended, so there has been no breach.”
Microsoft believes Fancy Bear is behind the attacks based on analysis of the group’s hacking techniques and network infrastructure, one source said.