Russian intelligence agencies have increased their efforts to hack US and allied government computer networks to gather intelligence since the war in Ukraine began, Microsoft said in new findings published Wednesday.
American organizations were the top target of the Russian hacking attempts outside of Ukraine, according to Microsoft, but the alleged Russian hacking has spanned 42 countries, and a range of sectors that might have valuable information related to the war, from governments to think tanks to humanitarian groups.
It’s a reminder of the voracious appetite that Russian cyber operatives have for strategic information as the Kremlin is more isolated on the international stage than it has been for decades.
Those hacking attempts have successfully penetrated defenses 29% of the time, according to Microsoft. Of those successful breaches, a quarter resulted in data stolen from networks.
But measuring the “success” of a Russian cyber-espionage is difficult, and Microsoft said it didn’t have a full view of the hacking because some customers stored data on their own systems rather than in Microsoft’s cloud computing infrastructure.
CNN has reached out to the Russian Embassy in Washington for comment. Moscow routinely denies hacking accusations.
Various governments have likely stepped up their offensive cyber activities related to the Ukraine war as they search for insights on how the fighting and the global fallout from it.
Cyber Command, the US military’s hacking unit, has conducted a “full spectrum” of offensive, defensive and information operations in support of Ukraine, the head of the command confirmed this month.
China, too, has trained some of its very capable hackers on targets related to the Ukraine war, according to cybersecurity researchers. Suspected Chinese hackers appeared to try to break into computers linked to officials in the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk, near the Chinese border, according to cybersecurity firm Secureworks.