New Russian hacking targets anti-Trump conservative think tanks and Republican groups: Microsoft
President Donald Trump's manner with Russian leader Vladimir Putin was in contrast to the anger he flashed at NATO allies. (AFP / Brendan Smialowski)

The New York Times reported early Tuesday that the Russian military intelligence unit that tried to influence the 2018 election is now targeting conservative American think tanks that broke with President Donald Trump.

Microsoft Corporation said it seized websites created by hackers linked to the Russian unit. The sites try to trick users into thinking they're clicking links by the Hudson Institute and International Republican Institute. The pages, however, were created by hackers to steal passwords.

The software giant noted they also found websites that attempted to imitate the United States Senate but no specific offices or campaigns.

The Hudson Institute is a conservative think tank that looks at the rise of kleptocracies in governments across the world. Russia is understandably a major topic of conversation. The International Republican Institute has spent decades working to promote democracy globally and receives some funding from the State Department. Several Republicans who have been critical of Trump sit on the Institute's board including John McCain and Mitt Romney.

“We are now seeing another uptick in attacks. What is particular in this instance is the broadening of the type of websites they are going after,” said Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith.

“These are organizations that are informally tied to Republicans,” he said, “so we see them broadening beyond the sites they have targeted in the past.”

The Times quoted the director of the Defending Digital Democracy Eric Rosenbach, saying it's yet another example that Russians aren't necessarily partisan in their attacks.

“It’s about disrupting and diminishing any group that challenges how Putin’s Russia is operating at home and around the world,”

Read the full report at the New York Times.