Microsoft said Wednesday they identified an online campaign by a group affiliated with the Russian military to interfere with European think tanks that have been critical of the Kremlin.
The spear-phishing operation — which has been referred to as Fancy Bear, APT28 and Strontium — targeted employees of the German Council on Foreign Relations and European offices of The Aspen Institute and The German Marshall Fund, Microsoft wrote in a blog post.
The attacks happened in the last three months of 2018, the company said.
In the spear-phishing attacks, hackers trick employees with phony emails that allow them to gain access to the computer systems of the companies. Microsoft said more than 100 employees were targeted.
The cyber attacks were carried out by a group inside Russian intelligence, which meddled in the 2016 election, the Washington Post reported.
They illustrate Russia’s continued effort to meddle with democracies outside their borders, Microsoft wrote in the blog post.
“[The attacks] suggest an ongoing effort to target democratic organizations. They validate the warnings from European leaders about the threat level we should expect to see in Europe this year,” they wrote.