Microsoft said on Wednesday it had notified almost 10,000 customers last year that it had been the target of state-sponsored attacks.
The Windows maker said the attacks originated in countries like Iran, North Korea and Russia.
"This data demonstrates the significant extent to which national states continue to rely on cyber attacks as a tool to obtain intelligence, influence geopolitics or achieve other objectives," Tom Burt, corporate vice president of security and customer trust at Microsoft , he wrote in a blog post.
About 84 percent of these attacks were directed at their business customers, and the remaining 16 percent, about 1,600, targeted at personal consumer email accounts. Last August, the company identified 781 nation-sponsored attacks targeting organizations that make use of the technology, 95 percent of which were located in the US. UU  Based on data compiled by the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center, Burt said that they have seen great activity from the Holmium (APT33) and Mercury players operating from Iran, Thallium (APT38) operating from North Korea and two actors operating from Russia called Strontium. (APT28, also known as Fancy Bear) and Itrio (APT29).
The cybernetic espionage group Strontium in particular has been notorious for its participation in the attacks on the 2016 Democratic National Committee and the NotPetya attacks on banks and infrastructure in Ukraine in June 2017.
According to the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, the collective operates since 2008 and is believed to be working for the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service.
To protect against foreign interference in democratic processes, Microsoft said it will start Launching a free and open source software product called ElectionGuard, which says it uses encryption to "enable a new era of safe and verifiable voting. . "
The company is working with electoral machine providers and local governments to implement the system in a pilot program for the upcoming elections in 2020 in the US
The system uses a tracking code to allow a voter verifies that the voting has been registered and has not been tampered with This verification feature will be enabled by homomorphic encryption, Burt said, adding that it will be available through GitHub as a software development kit (SDK) at the end of the year. this summer.
ElectionGuard and similar tools offered by other technology companies are More needed than ever The world's democracies continue to be attacked, Burt said. "Governments and civil society have important roles to play, but the technology industry also has a responsibility to help defend democracy."