With the 2020 polls barely a month away, tech pundits are observing remarkable efforts from various tech companies in controlling misinformation that could compromise voting. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have announced their plans on how to preserve the integrity of the upcoming elections. Both are likewise committed to spread awareness and to encourage people to participate. Microsoft, on the other hand, just reported that it has taken down a cybersecurity threat that could have potentially sabotaged the polls.
It was reportedly a malware network called Trickbot which is used by cybercriminals to distribute ransomware and more. The servers hosting it were disabled after Microsoft was granted a federal court order after it identified the IP addresses associated with previous cyberattacks. It also had assistance from major telecommunications providers in various regions across the globe. Nevertheless, it warns of the likelihood that the offenders might have a way to restore their operations.
In an official blog post, Microsoft VP of security Tom Burt wrote: "Trickbot has infected over a million computing devices around the world since late 2016. While the exact identity of the operators is unknown, research suggests they serve both nation-states and criminal networks for a variety of objectives."
He added: "In addition to its threat to elections, Trickbot is known for using malware to reach online banking websites and steal funds from people and financial institutions. Financial institutions ranging from global banks and payments processors to regional credit unions have been targeted by Trickbot. For this reason, the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) has been a critical partner and a co-plaintiff in our legal action."
Experts point out that ransomware could potentially disrupt the elections if systems intended to support the voting process are affected. Although many see it as a hypothetical scenario, the fact that it is possible should alert those directly involved in the 2020 polls.
Trickbot has likewise seen use in malicious emails that have malware attached. Most of these are sent with subject lines pertaining to COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, and more. One notable software vendor that was one of the targets is Tyler Technologies. Its services are used by Universal Health Services and other local governments.