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Iran-linked actor targeted international security conference, Microsoft says

Microsoft said on Wednesday that it detected and worked to stop a series of cyberattacks from the threat actor Phosphorous masquerading as conference organizers to target more than 100 high-profile individuals. 

“Phosphorus, an Iranian actor, has targeted with this scheme potential attendees of the upcoming Munich Security Conference and the Think 20 (T20) Summit in Saudi Arabia. The Munich Security Conference is the most important gathering on the topic of security for heads of state and other world leaders, and it has been held annually for nearly 60 years. Likewise, T20 is a highly visible event that shapes policy ideas for the G20 nations and informs their critical discussions,” Microsoft said in a blog, adding it believed that this activity isn’t tied to the U.S. elections in any way.

Microsoft logo through a magnifying glass
Microsoft detects cyberattacks from Iran-linked actor. (c) Shutterstock

According to Microsoft, The attackers have been sending possible attendees spoofed invitations by email. The emails use near-perfect English and were sent to former government officials, policy experts, academics and leaders from non-governmental organizations.

“Phosphorus helped assuage fears of travel during the Covid-19 pandemic by offering remote sessions. We believe Phosphorus is engaging in these attacks for intelligence collection purposes. The attacks were successful in compromising several victims, including former ambassadors and other senior policy experts who help shape global agendas and foreign policies in their respective countries,” Microsoft said.

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