Microsoft said Monday it has prevented a significant threat that had the potential of disrupting the US presidential election on Nov. 3.
The tech company said it has blocked a botnet called Trickbot — one of the world’s largest ransomware distributors.
“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,” the firm said in a statement.
“Trickbot’s spam and spear phishing campaigns used to distribute malware have included topics such as Black Lives Matter and COVID-19, enticing people to click on malicious documents or links,” it added.
Microsoft said it had to obtain a court order from US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to act against Trickbot, in addition to cooperating with telecommunication providers around the world.
In addition to protecting election infrastructure from cyber attacks, the company said its latest action will also protect financial services institutions, government agencies, healthcare facilities, businesses and universities from potential malware.
While Trickbot has infected over a million computers worldwide since late 2016, Microsoft claims it serves both nation-states and criminal networks for different reasons.
Microsoft had said on Sept. 10 it detected cyberattacks targeting people and organizations involved in the election, including unsuccessful attacks on those associated with campaigns of Republican US President Donald Trump and his rival Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
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