back to article Microsoft: We busted Russian Fancy Bear disinfo websites

Microsoft has claimed it thwarted a Russian-backed phishing attack by seizing control of fake copies of right-leaning American think tanks' websites – including one led by a prominent Donald Trump critic. A US court order authorised Microsoft to apprehend six domains that the Windows maker said were linked to the APT28 hacking …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well done Microsoft though you can still f*ck off for every windows after 7.

    Edit: Did I say that out loud? Whoops.

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    How things have changed

    Russia is the new Evil Empire rather than Microsoft.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: How things have changed

      "Russia is the new Evil Empire rather than Microsoft."

      It's OK, you can have more than one and arrange them as appropriate. Axis of Evil & all that.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: How things have changed

      "Russia is the new Evil Empire rather than Microsoft."

      'more evil than us, lookie lookie lookie! we are no longer the bad guys' - heh

      It's like over at M.S. they're all doing the "side step" and distracting everyone with 'new, shiny' - that's right, because wearing the 'shiny gold belt buckle' drop item will distract the floor boss long enough to get in a one-hit kill on the boss (instead of a total party kill on the players).

      I think it was REALLY 'Anonymous' pretending to be the CIA pretending to be China pretending to be Russia... [for the lulz, now laughing at Micro-shaft]

      In all seriousness, though, doesn't this sound a little *too* convenient? And, also, a little *too* insignificant to be of any _REAL_ importance...

      a) thinking that Russians try to hack U.S. political organization to create chaos: plausible

      b) thinking that Russians are targeting anti-Trump Republicans because they're anti-Trump: possible, but not very effective [they'd get more out of 'chaos' to get people to mistrust the electoral process]

      c) implying that Trump is colluding with these alleged Russian hackers because "doing that" would have any significant effect: illogical; highly unlikely

      d) making this point as if it's significant because Mueller's report is going to be out soon, and Micro-shaft's official company political position [for evidence watch [P]MSNBC for 5 minutes, if you can stomach it] DEMANDS that as much NEGATIVITY as POSSIBLE regarding Trump continue INDEFINITELY, including Mueller's witch-hunt "investigation": GUARANTEED

      1. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: How things have changed

        It's at times like this i realise how much i miss amanfrommars' posts.

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: How things have changed

      How many would that be now? We have The Evil Murdoch Empire, The MegaEvil Zuck Empire, The Empire of all Evil Chocolate Factory, The Evil Empire of Infinity Loop .. there are just so many to choose from.

    4. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: How things have changed

      Surely I'm not the only one old enough to remember Reagan's speechmakers coining the phrase "empire of evil' to refer to, yes, the Soviet Union?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hard to fight the feeling this is just ...

    doing the heavy lifting for the Russians.

    After all, if their aim was to destabilise the US (and you can add the UK to that too) then what better way than to have a newsfest like this which confirms what they've been up to ? Meaning that people - enough people - have some justification in questioning the legitimacy of their own government

    I am far more worried about what can happen to UK society from within, than I am about being nuked by Russia.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Hard to fight the feeling this is just ...

      That's the point. All politicians are crooks, all news is fake, all facts are lies - so just vote for the one that claims to be just like you

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hard to fight the feeling this is just ...

        Or the one who claims they like you, even when they are nothing like you? That way you and them are being 'independent' and chaos reigns.

    2. The Nazz Silver badge

      Re: Hard to fight the feeling this is just ...

      "What can happen ....."

      Rather what is, and has been happening to UK "society" from within since, oh , at least 1997**

      Add your own preferred date ** here.

      Current odds include :

      1979 Evens

      1974 1/2 On (Metropolitan Councils)

  4. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    Why

    Did the FBI voluntarily dissolve itself and leave Microsoft in charge? Why am I paying the Windows Tax for MS to play Internet Police.

    MS when you've finished hunting fake websites is there anything you can do about all the stuff needs fixing in Windows 10? If it's no trouble obviously.

    1. cornetman

      Re: Why

      I must admit, I couldn't really see why the court would hand these web sites over to Microsoft.

      They're not a federal law organization and it wasn't made clear in the article that Microsoft had any real standing for whatever was alleged.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Why

        They could probably get the onedrive and sharepoint ones handed over on the basis of MS trade marks. I suspect the others were actually shut down by court orders with MSFT providing the evidence - but that is too complex a distinction for the news

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Why

          that is too complex a distinction for the news PR dept.

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Why

        Well maybe MS is less than keen on the jaffa (they are pro dreamer) so publishing the fact they have taken down fake anti Trump sites set up by the Russians adds fuel to Russian support for Trump.

      3. Donn Bly

        Re: Why

        The courts seem have forgotten that Microsoft has no jurisdiction or right of ownership -- just like they forgot it when Microsoft submitted perjurious and otherwise false affidavits to the court to STEAL 22 domains from No-IP a few years ago, taking down some 1.8 million websites that relied on those domains for DNS services and potentially intercepting their private email. At least then they were caught red-handed and the domains were returned within days.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: Why

          Giving State powers to corporations is a major part of actual (not yah-boo-sucks) Fascism. Once you have private prisons and corporations doing things like assessing benefit entitlement, you are on the path to a Fascist state. Once private corporations operate paramilitary organisations (like Halliburton) that is another step. And treating Microsoft as an arm of law enforcement is another.

          Currently between the US, the UK and Russia I find myself increasingly looking from pig to man and man to pig and being unable to tell the difference.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Microsoft: internet police

      Micro-soft, "FEEL" YEAH!

      Making the world safe on 'teh intarwebs'

      Micro-soft, *FEEL* YEAH!!

      etc.

      (where are the 'South Park' creators, I've got a great idea for their new movie)

  5. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Heard this on the radio as well.

    As others have said, not sure why Microsoft are policing the Internet in this way.

    Unless MS$ is now a TLA.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Heard this on the radio as well.

      -One point of view will be enforced and supported willingly by a strong and joyful proletariat, it is obviously in our interests. There are existential threats, we will be protected but we must not question, that implies lack of discipline and order.

      -You must use the State Store or be considered an unpatriotic parasite!

      -The Great Ones must not be questioned. Have you no self-respect, citizen?

      It is important that we crush the bones of every last Russian florist and teacher. They are all untermenschen. They vote the wrong way and speak English improperly. They expect to be protected from external threats, chlorinated chicken and traitors. This is unacceptable and we will not allow it for them.

  6. tmz

    This is the MS justification

    Microsoft has been trying to gain control of the sites for two years. In court documents, its lawyers filed a complaint on Aug. 13, 2016, alleging violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to harm Microsoft and its customers.

    The complaint alleges that two unknown individuals led the effort "to direct attacks against targeted networks, to infect computing devices connected to those networks that permit Defendants to compromise the security and conduct reconnaissance of and move latterly through those networks, and to locate and exfiltrate sensitive information."

    They also accuse the individuals of accessing the computers and networks of Microsoft customers, intercepting communications via Microsoft's Windows operating system, making unauthorized use of Microsoft trademarks, "trespassing" on the computer networks of Microsoft and its customers, intentionally interfering with Microsoft contracts and profiting unjustly from their unauthorized use and access.

    https://fcw.com/articles/2018/08/21/microsoft-domain-takedown-influence.aspx

  7. EJ
    Paris Hilton

    I read this story on The Register's sister site over at theREALregister.co.uk and it says this is all a misunderstanding, and that all of these foes of Trump are foreign agents.

  8. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    I am slightly confused

    Are we saying that Russian phishing attacks are being directed against Republican disinformation websites, or that Russian disinformation websites are impersonating Republican disinformation websites? You say Russian, I say Republican, Republican, Russian, Russian, Republican...let's call the whole thing off.

  9. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    "I read this story on The Register's sister site over at theREALregister.co.uk"

    And now somebody's going to register it...not me, I dislike having lawyers around the place (that I'm not related to).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The source code for the APT28 software has been available since around 2013. Bit foolish to attribute it to a specific player without considerable additional information. At least one of the bank hacking groups (definitely a non-state player) has used this software over the past few years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe so (though I'm not qualified to judge). But on the other hand, bank hacking groups don't, for the most part, have a track record of attacking political opponents of Donald Trump. But someone does, and I'm not talking about Trump...

      1. Donn Bly

        Microsoft accuses the Russians - but just like most other accusations there is no credible evidence released to support the conclusion. Not to say that there isn't any -- but if there is they haven't released it for review.

        Russia is the proverbial "boogeyman" in American cyber-threats these days - but I'm getting more than a little tired of the baseless accusations. A state-sponsored actor with enough skill to hack a website is certainly going to have the ability to hide the origination of their attacks - or to deflect evidence of origination to someone else.

        Is Russia posting disinformation and propaganda trying to create dissent within America? Of course, but then again, so is almost every American political organization. Russians may have bought some facebook ads targeting Clinton, but Clinton probably outspent them in their ads targeting Sanders. The AFLCIO outspent them by more than 10x in their ads targeting Trump. None of the ads had much if any actually influence on the election itself, and they certainly didn't "hack" the election to change any vote once the vote was cast.

        So do they have a "track record" or attacking politicians? No more than anyone else.

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Silly if you ask me

          Is Russia posting disinformation and propaganda trying to create dissent within America? Of course not.

          Why on earth would the Russians go to the trouble and expense of trying to turn Americans against each other, when they are all at one other's throats already?

          It's like alleging that some big corporation has launched an expensive multi-year research project to see if it can make potassium react with water.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          " they certainly didn't "hack" the election to change any vote once the vote was cast."

          Given the proven vulnerabilities and lack of audit trails on the voting machines being used, this can't be determined one way or another.

          There's a lot to be said for pencil and paper. No chads, nothing happening behind the curtain.

  11. Chronos Silver badge

    Russia, SatNad era MS or Conservatism?

    One really doesn't know who to cheer for, does one? Perhaps "none of them" is the correct answer.

  12. RobertLongshaft

    If the Russians are so keen on Trump winning why are they creating more anti trump - pro democrat websites and accounts?

    Why was Bill Clinton paid $500k for a half an hour talk in Moscow?

    Why did Russia make $140m in donations to the Clinton Foundation?

    Why the the Clinton led state department authorise the sale of 20% of all of the Uranium the US owned?

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Happy

      This has little to do with election rigging/influencing.

      This all took place in or before 2008, so over ten years ago and involved Mr Clinton.

      The 20% Uranium in reserves were already owned by a Canadian firm, which in the end got sold to Russian investors.

      I understand it is totally normal in neo-conservative regimes to sell off infrastructure and other strategic assets to businesses in foreign countries ... if a penny or two can be made on the back of the tax payers ... what are you complaining about, again ?

      DISCLAIMER: Brit here, could not give a flying fsck about what reigns over the white hut.

  13. Crisp Silver badge

    Well that's locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.

    Thank the gods that Microsoft stopped election meddling before another country installed a demagogue as President of the United States!

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