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Run by Russian-speaking criminals, the botnet poses a “theoretical but real” threat to election integrity by launching ransomware attacks, in which data is rendered inaccessible unless the victim pays a ransom, said Tom Burt, Microsoft’s vice president of customer security and trust.

Botnets are networks of computers secretly infected by malware that can be controlled remotely. They can be used to spread ransomware, as well as to send malicious spam email to unsuspecting recipients. Trickbot is malware that can steal financial and personal data, and drop other malicious software, such as ransomware, onto infected systems.

The fear isn’t that an attack could alter actual results, but rather that it could shake the confidence of voters, especially those already on edge from President Trump’s unfounded assaults on the integrity of mail-in ballots. “Having just a few precincts report that they got disrupted and locked up and people couldn’t vote or their

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