Russian officials denied claims from Microsoft that hackers connected to its intelligence agencies were involved in an attempt to target the websites of two right-leaning U.S. think tanks.
Reuters reports that an unnamed Russian official told the news agency Interfax that Microsoft and the U.S. were merely playing "political games" ahead of contentious midterm elections in November.
“Microsoft is playing political games,” the official said. “The [midterm U.S.] elections have not happened yet, but there are already allegations.”
Microsoft officials on Tuesday said that a federal judge had given the company control over six websites created by the Russian hacking group Fancy Bear, which it said could have been used to launch cyberattacks against U.S. officials and organizations.
The domains were customized to mimic Microsoft's own services, three U.S. Senate websites and sites for the International Republican Institute and the Hudson Institute, Microsoft reported. The intent appeared to be to trick U.S. users into providing their personal information to hackers.
That technique is known as spear-phishing, which the same hackers are accused of using during the 2016 election to illegally obtain emails from Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty MORE's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Microsoft said in a statement Tuesday that there was "no evidence" to suggest that the websites had been used in successful cyberattacks before the company obtained control.
“To be clear, we currently have no evidence these domains were used in any successful attacks before the DCU transferred control of them, nor do we have evidence to indicate the identity of the ultimate targets of any planned attack involving these domains,” the company said.