Microsoft takes down massive hacking operation that could have affected the election

Residents cast ballots at an early voting polling location for the 2020 Presidential election in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. In June, Governor Newsom signed a one-time-only bill making the November election a mail-ballot vote in hopes of protecting voters from the coronavirus. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Microsoft has disrupted a massive hacking operation that it said could have indirectly affected election infrastructure if allowed to continue.

The company said Monday it took down the servers behind Trickbot, an enormous malware network that criminals were using to launch other cyberattacks, including a strain of highly potent ransomware.

Microsoft said it obtained a federal court order to disable the IP addresses associated with Trickbot’s servers and worked with telecom providers around the world to stamp out the network. The action coincides with an offensive by US Cyber Command to disrupt the cybercriminals, at least temporarily, according to The Washington Post.

Microsoft (MSFT) acknowledged that the attackers are likely to adapt and seek to revive their operations eventually. But, Microsoft said, the company’s efforts reflect a “new legal approach” that may help authorities fight the network going forward.

Trickbot allowed hackers to sell what Microsoft said was a service to other hackers — offering them the capability to inject vulnerable computers, routers and other devices with other malware.

That includes ransomware, which Microsoft and US officials have warned could pose a risk to websites that display election information or to third-party software vendors that provide services to election officials.
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