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Russia, China, Iran Hackers Target Biden and Trump Campaigns

Hackers from Russia, China and Iran have stepped up their efforts to target the U.S. presidential election, Microsoft said.

Hackers from Russia, China and Iran have targeted political campaigns in the U.S. including those run by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, Microsoft  (MSFT)  said on Thursday.

"We have and will continue to defend our democracy against these attacks. ... The activity we are announcing today makes clear that foreign activity groups have stepped up their efforts targeting the 2020 election as had been anticipated," the Redmond, Wash., software giant said in a blog post on Thursday.

Microsoft said hackers operating from Russia, also identified in the Mueller report, have attacked more than 200 organizations including political campaigns, advocacy groups, parties and political consultants.

Hackers from China have "indirectly and unsuccessfully targeted" Biden's campaign through the personal email accounts of people working within his campaign, the company said.

Meanwhile, hackers from Iran have unsuccessfully attempted to log into the accounts of White House administration officials and of Trump campaign staff, the company added.

Earlier on Thursday, Microsoft identified Russian government hackers who were targeting one of the Biden campaign's advisers and alerted the firm, Reuters reported.

The hackers targeted a campaign strategy and communications firm, SKDKnickerbocker, that works closely with the Biden campaign.

The hacking attempts - including phishing, which seeks to trick users into disclosing sensitive information like passwords - were "well-defended, so there has been no breach," a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Washington-based SKDK has had a long-term association with the Democratic Party, having worked on six presidential campaigns and several congressional races.

A Kremlin spokesperson dismissed the reports, saying they “look like nonsense.”

On Wednesday, a whistle-blower complaint said top officials from the Department of Homeland Security directed agency analysts to stop producing assessments on Russian interference and focus instead on Iran and China.

Brian Murphy, a senior Department of Homeland Security official, alleged in a whistle-blower report that top Trump administration officials forced him to manipulate or censor intelligence on Russian election interference.

Microsoft and Walmart  (WMT) are jointly pursuing a deal for social media company TikTok. The deal is unlikely to close before the presidential election.

Microsoft shares traded higher on Wednesday after analysts at Morgan Stanley boosted their price target on the tech giant, citing an expected dividend hike in the coming weeks.

Shares of Microsoft at last check were little changed.