According to Microsoft, computer hackers affiliated with Russian intelligence have infiltrated the US State Department's International Assistance Service (USAID) email system to enter the computer network of Kremlin – important groups and organizations. The attack comes just weeks before the first summit between US President Joe Biden and his Russian rival Vladimir Putin in Geneva (Switzerland) on June 16.
“This week we detected the cyber attacks of the Nobelium Group, which targeted government agencies and analytics centers. [think tanks], Consulting and NGOs, ”Microsoft said in a statement. The Nobelium was created in Russia by the same group that was behind the attack on the software development company Solar Wind. Using this software, the pirates came to the computer systems of their purpose by updating one of the programs developed by Solar Wind and used by all its customers.
The attack began in the second half of 2020 and continued for the next six months, allowing foreign U.S. agents to infiltrate various U.S. government agencies. At the time, they were able to halt the day-to-day operations of at least six sectors, including defense, the state, trade and the treasury, as well as companies such as the National Institutes of Health and the big companies that make Fortune 500.
On that occasion, Nobiliam's computer attack was particularly courageous when accessing US federal government provider systems and sending reliable emails to more than 3,000 accounts from more than 150 companies receiving constant communications from the Development Agency United States International.
The fake emails, dated May 25, promised to provide new information on allegations of electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential election. In an image released by Microsoft, the email appears to have come from USIID and "USIIT Special Warning: Donald Trump Releases New Documents on Election Fraud".
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Although the main target of the attack was the United States, Nobiliam targeted organizations from at least 24 countries. "These attacks appear to be a continuation of Nobeliem's attempts to attack foreign policy agencies with the ultimate goal of compiling accurate information on Russian intelligence," Microsoft said.
In April, the White House announced sanctions against thirty individuals and companies, claiming that its intervention in the 2020 elections provided a massive cyber attack and the Moscow Taliban to carry out attacks on US troops in Afghanistan. Joe Biden raised doubts about Russian intervention in the United States, pointing to the White House for the first time as a Russian spy service (SVR), a descendant of the Soviet KGB. Sanctions have been tougher since Trump became president. However, there seems to be a further increase in Russian response attacks. This indicates that the sentences handed down from Washington to Moscow did not in any way stop the Kremlin from playing board in the United States.
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency said Thursday that the USIID was "aware of the potential risk" and was working with the FBI to establish the extent of the damage. In turn, Microsoft said it would "significantly" differ from the attack by Solar Wind, as it was trying to avoid detecting new tools. The multinational technology company announced that the attack was still ongoing and that hackers were constantly sending phishing messages (identification alternatives) at high speeds and on a large scale.
Cyber attacks hit the United States hard. Earlier this month, a group of cybercriminals, backed by Moscow, smuggled data from Colonial, one of America's largest pipelines. The attack forced the colony to halt all its operations, which led to a shortage of gasoline on the U.S. East Coast, in addition to rising fuel prices.
Biden summit – Putin
The summit between Biden and Putin marks the beginning of the United States' first international trip as president, with the aim of "restoring the prognosis and stability of relations between the United States and Russia," the White House announced. Biden made his critical position on Moscow very clear in February. "Putin is trying to damage our Atlantic alliance because it is much easier to attack and threaten individual nations than to negotiate with the Kremlin's coalition."
Relations between the United States and Russia have gradually deteriorated in recent years, but especially since Joe Biden came to the White House. On his first day as president, the Democrats ordered Washington to reconsider its relationship with Moscow, and on March 2 ordered an economic embargo against seven Russian officials and a dozen government agencies for poisoning opposition leader Alexei Navalny. In addition, when asked if Putin was a murderer, Biden raised his voice with the White House Kremlin, referring to his attempt to assassinate dissidents.
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