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Photo: Scott Peterson / Getty Images

Microsoft announced Wednesday it had last week taken possession of 99 web domains used by a hacker group known as Charming Kitten, which has been linked to the government of Iran.

The big picture: Microsoft has waged one of the most effective and most intriguing defensive campaigns against nation-led hacking teams — challenging their right to use look-alike phishing web domains in civil court.

Details: The current haul of websites includes domains like "outlook-verify[.]net," which Microsoft claims Charming Kitten used to send phishing emails to victims.

  • Using the fake sites, the group either tricks users into entering their account credentials by notifying them of a false security risk or sends links, often appearing to be from friends, that will download malware.
  • "Our work to track [Charming Kitten] over multiple years and observe its activity enabled us to build a decisive legal case and execute last week’s action with confidence we could have significant impact on the group’s infrastructure," Tom Burt, corporate vice president of customer security and trust wrote on Microsoft's official blog.

Microsoft is best known for taking Russian hackers to court to gain control of their phishing domains.

Go deeper

Updated 4 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Pentagon approves request for 100 National Guard troops for "Justice for J6" rally

Security fencing has been reinstalled around the Capitol. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved a request from Capitol Police to provide 100 D.C. National Guard troops in case law enforcement requires additional support at Saturday's "Justice for J6" rally at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Security preparations have ramped up ahead of the pro-Trump demonstration, where hundreds of protesters sympathetic to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack are expected to gather.

Biden threatens new sanctions against Ethiopian officials over Tigray conflict

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

President Biden on Friday signed an executive order allowing the Treasury and State Departments to impose sanctions against Ethiopian officials "responsible for, or complicit in, prolonging the conflict" in the Tigray region.

Driving the news: Hundreds of thousands of people are facing famine conditions in Tigray, but less than 10 percent of the needed humanitarian supplies has reached the region over the last month "due to the obstruction of aid access" by the Ethiopian government, according to Biden administration officials.

Top general: Calls to China were "perfectly within the duties" of job

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley told the Associated Press on Friday that calls with his Chinese counterpart during the final months of Donald Trump's presidency were "perfectly within the duties and responsibilities" of his job.

Why it matters: In his first public comments on the calls that have prompted critics to question whether the general went too far, Milley maintained that such conversations are "routine," per AP.

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