Microsoft alerts EU democracy groups to cyber attacks ahead of elections

The company is making its detection system more widely available to prevent meddling in upcoming polls.

Microsoft has detected cyber attacks targeting think tanks and non-profit organisations across Europe in the lead-up to European Parliament elections.

Between September and December, the computing firm discovered that more than 100 accounts belonging to organisations’ employees in Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Romania and Serbia had been attacked, which the company believes was carried out by a group called Strontium.

“We quickly notified each of these organisations when we discovered they were targeted so they could take steps to secure their systems, and we took a variety of technical measures to protect customers from these attacks,” Microsoft said.

(Niall Carson/PA)

In a bid to prevent further attacks, the company announced it was expanding the availability of its Microsoft AccountGuard detection and notification system to eligible organisations, at no additional cost in 12 countries across the continent.

The service is already available in the UK, Ireland, the US and Canada.

The move follows similar efforts by Google, which announced that its cybersecurity incubator Jigsaw was making its Project Shield system available to campaigns and candidates last month.

With European Parliament elections taking place from May 23, Facebook announced the rollout of its own tools for political advert transparency, which are already available in the UK.

Former deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg, who is now a Facebook executive, recently said that an “election integrity centre” would be opened in Dublin as a hub for spotting hate speech, misinformation and attempted election interference on the site ahead of the polls.

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