Joe Biden in Detroit, Michigan on Sept. 9 and President Trump on Sept. 10. Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images and Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Cyberattacks organized in Russia, China and Iran have targeted the 2020 election, President Trump's and former Vice President Joe Biden's campaigns this year, Microsoft said in a blog post on Thursday.

The big picture: The 2020 presidential election is rife with opportunities for foreign actors to sow chaos, since results will likely be delayed due to record mail-in ballots. Protests for racial justice and calls to restructure policing in the U.S. also give Russia an opportunity to spread disinformation.

What they found: Microsoft found that Russian hackers have consistently targeted Republican and Democrat consultants, political advocacy groups and national party organizations affiliated with the 2020 election since September of last year.

  • Hackers based in China levied thousands of attacks between this March and September, some of which included unsuccessful attacks against Biden's campaign and one high-level person formerly involved with the Trump campaign.
  • Attacks from a group operating in Iran unsuccessfully tried to log into accounts of Trump administration officials as well as Trump's re-election staff between May and June.

Driving the news: The Department of Homeland Security's intelligence branch warned law enforcement last week that it believes Russian-controlled social media trolls and state media are likely to continue trying to sow distrust in U.S. election results and mail-in ballots.

  • The nation's top counterintelligence official said in July that Russia, China and Iran present the most pressing threats for election interference in the 2020 presidential race.
  • The Justice Department charged a Russian national on Thursday of "a sweeping plot to sow distrust in the American political process," AP reports, although the agency only referenced her involvement in attempting to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections, not the 2020 election.

What they're saying: "We are aware of reports from Microsoft that a foreign actor has made unsuccessful attempts to access the non-campaign email accounts of individuals affiliated with the campaign," Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement.

  • "We have known from the beginning of our campaign that we would be subject to such attacks and we are prepared for them," Bates said.
  • "As President Trump’s re-election campaign, we are a large target, so it is not surprising to see malicious activity directed at the campaign or our staff. We work closely with our partners, Microsoft and others, to mitigate these threats," Trump campaign spokesperson Thea McDonald said in a statement.

Go deeper

FBI director confirms "very, very active" Russian efforts to interfere in election

FBI Director Chris Wray on Thursday told Congress the bureau has seen "very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020," primarily to "denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment."

Why it matters: It confirms previous statements from various intelligence officials about Russia's interference activities, which continue with less than 50 days until the election.

Senate Republicans reject Trump claim that election results may "never" be known

Sen. Marco Rubio speaking with reporters in July. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Multiple Senate Republicans on Thursday disavowed President Trump's claim that the results of the 2020 election may remain unknown indefinitely, Politico reports.

Why it matters: Twitter flagged a tweet of the president's on Thursday as a potentially misleading statement after he said without evidence that because of mail-in ballots: "the Nov 3rd Election result may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED, which is what some want."

The top Republicans who aren't voting for Trump in 2020

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Pence's former lead staffer on the White House coronavirus task force announced that she plans to vote for Joe Biden in the 2020 election, while accusing President Trump of costing lives with his pandemic response.

Why it matters: Olivia Troye, who described herself as a life-long Republican, joins other prominent Republicans who have publicly said they will either not vote for Trump's re-election this November or will back Biden.