Key Biden Campaign Strategy Firm Targeted By Suspected Kremlin-Backed Hackers

WILMINGTON, DE - AUGUST 20: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivers a speech as he accepts his party’s presidential nomination at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del., on the final day of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. The former vice president’s highly anticipated remarks cap a very unconventional four-day virtual convention with the biggest speech of his lengthy political career. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivers a speech as he accepts his party’s presidential nomination in Wilmington, Delaware on the final day of the Democratic National Convention on August 20, 2020. (Ph... Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivers a speech as he accepts his party’s presidential nomination in Wilmington, Delaware on the final day of the Democratic National Convention on August 20, 2020. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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September 10, 2020 9:01 a.m.

One of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s main election campaign advisory firms was likely targeted by suspected Russian state-backed hackers.

Reuters reports that according to three sources briefed on the matter, Microsoft alerted campaign strategy and communications firm SKDKnickerbocker that recent hacking attempts had targeted staff from the company.

The firm has been working with Biden and other prominent Democrats over the past two months, the sources said.

The hackers were not able to access to the firm’s networks, a person familiar with SKDK’s response to the attempts told Reuters, adding, “they are well-defended, so there has been no breach.”

One of the sources said it was unclear whether Biden’s campaign was the target or whether the hackers were attempting to gain access to information about other SKDK clients.

Three Reuters sources confirmed that Microsoft had identified that hackers tied to the Russian government were likely behind the attacks which included phishing among other schemes to infiltrate the company’s networks.

Moscow has routinely denied that it uses hacking to meddle in foreign elections. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has dismissed the allegations as “nonsense.” 

Intelligence agencies have long flagged ongoing efforts from foreign powers to interfere in U.S. elections.

But more recently, the Trump administration has sought to stifle the release of intelligence findings linked to election meddling, particularly with regard to Russia.

On Tuesday, Brian Murphy, a senior Department of Homeland Security official, filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that he was told to stop disseminating intelligence memos on Russian threats to the upcoming presidential election, citing potential “political embarrassment” to Trump, according to records of the complaint released by the House Intelligence Committee.

Last week, the FBI warned Facebook that a Russian troll farm disguised as a nonprofit news organization was attempting to use the social media site to promote criticism of Biden from the left.

SKDK has deep roots in the Democratic Party — the firm’s managing director Anita Dunn, was a former Obama-era White House communications director and now serves the Biden campaign as a senior advisor. The firm’s senior vice president Kendra Barkoff Lamy is a former Biden press secretary. In addition to its work for Biden, the firm has worked on six presidential campaigns and several congressional races.

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