Microsoft’s results come just two weeks after National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said he would no longer allow intelligence agencies to provide detailed personal information about congressional disruptions to the election. He said the restrictions were due to leaks.
The company’s decision to release its results at the start of the presidential campaign over the past eight weeks underscored the futility of Mr Ratcliffe’s efforts: companies like Microsoft and Google, which sit on global networks, are watching suspicious activity, and increasing motivation to do it make it public to warn their customers. The result is inevitably a fall in reports from the private sector that intelligence officials have to evaluate in one way or another along with their own findings.
Mr. Krebs noted that “none are involved in maintaining or operating the electoral infrastructure and there has been no identified impact on the electoral systems.” He also said the company’s “announcement is in line with previous intelligence from intelligence agencies on a range of malicious cyber activities targeting the 2020 campaign and reiterates that it is a nationwide effort to defend democracy.”
Mr Krebs, who was a Microsoft executive prior to joining the Trump administration, said his agency released “guidelines to improve cyber defenses against account compromise attacks” on Thursday.
There is no question that Microsoft’s assessment complicates the government’s portrayal that China poses a greater threat to the US elections than Russia, as both National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien and Attorney General William P. Barr in Interviews last week said.
In fact, the report concludes that the Russian military intelligence unit only accelerated its attacks even after a string of financial sanctions, charges against Russian intelligence officers, and cyber retaliation by the US cyber command ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.