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US elections 'already being targeted by cyberattacks'

(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / Marvin Ruiter)

The US presidential elections are already facing widespread cyberattacks from malicious hacker groups, reports have claimed.

With November's election day fast approaching, the battle between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is heating up, with the two parties already well into the campaigning process.

However the election faces the threat of disruption from multiple cyber threats, including rogue nation state-sponsored attacks, that threaten to derail the process, experts have warned.

US election attacks

The warning comes from security experts at Microsoft, which has been monitoring the situation following widespread reports that the previous election in 2016 was affected by outside influences.

It has warned that hacker groups from Russia, China and Iran are already active in trying to disrupt this year's election, in many cases using the same methods as before.

This includes Chinese group Zirconium, which Microsoft says has attacked high-profile individuals associated with the election, including people associated with the Joe Biden for President campaign and prominent leaders in the international affairs community.

Elsewhere, Microsoft also highlighted the Strontium group, operating from Russia, has already attacked more than 200 organizations including political campaigns, advocacy groups, parties and political consultants, and the Iranian collective Phosphorus, which has continued to attack the personal accounts of people associated with the Donald J. Trump for President campaign.

Microsoft says that "the majority" of these attacks were detected and stopped by security tools built into its products, and that it has directly notified those who were targeted or compromised so they can take action.

"In recent weeks, Microsoft has detected cyberattacks targeting people and organizations involved in the upcoming presidential election, including unsuccessful attacks on people associated with both the Trump and Biden campaigns," Microsoft wrote.

"We have and will continue to defend our democracy against these attacks through notifications of such activity to impacted customers, security features in our products and services, and legal and technical disruptions."

"We disclose attacks like these because we believe it’s important the world knows about threats to democratic processes. It is critical that everyone involved in democratic processes around the world, both directly or indirectly, be aware of these threats and take steps to protect themselves in both their personal and professional capacities."