Date
8 December 2016
Microsoft says a patch to protect Windows users against the newly discovered threat will be released on Nov. 8. Photo: Reuters
Microsoft says a patch to protect Windows users against the newly discovered threat will be released on Nov. 8. Photo: Reuters

Microsoft links Russia hackers to Windows attacks

Microsoft Corp. is accusing a hacking group previously linked to the Russian government and US political hacks of being behind recent cyber attacks that exploited a newly discovered Windows security flaw.

The software maker said in an advisory on its website there had been a small number of attacks using “spear phishing” e-mails from a hacking group known as Strontium, which is more widely known as “Fancy Bear,” or APT 28, Reuters reports.

Microsoft did not identify any victims.

Microsoft’s disclosure of the new attacks and the link to Russia came after Washington accused Moscow of launching an unprecedented hacking campaign aimed at disrupting and discrediting the upcoming US election.

The US government last month formally blamed the Russian government for the election-season hacks of Democratic Party e-mails and their subsequent disclosure via WikiLeaks and other entities.

Russia has denied those accusations.

Microsoft said a patch to protect Windows users against the newly discovered threat will be released on Nov. 8, Election Day. It was not clear whether the Windows vulnerability had been used in any of the recent US political hacks.

Representatives of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security could not immediately be reached for comment.

A US intelligence expert on Russian cyber activity said that Fancy Bear primarily works for or on behalf of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, which US intelligence officials have concluded were responsible for hacks of Democratic Party databases and emails.

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