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Google: Chinese, Iranian hackers trying to hack Trump and Biden campaigns

Computer code. (PXhere/Released)
June 04, 2020

Members of both President Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s presidential campaigns have been targeted by hackers, according to Google’s cyber-security team

Shane Huntley, the head of Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) described the hacking efforts in a Thursday tweet. He said Chinese hacking efforts had targeted Biden’s Presidential Campaign staff, while Iranian hackers had targeted Trump’s campaign staff.

“Recently TAG saw China APT group targeting Biden campaign staff & Iran APT targeting Trump campaign staff with phishing,” Huntley tweeted. “No sign of compromise. We sent users our govt attack warning and we referred to fed law enforcement.”

Huntley linked a Google blog post in his tweet, reiterating various security measures one can take to protect themselves from hacking attempts.

Bide campaign staff were targeted by a Chinese hacking group, known as APT 31, Huntley told The Wall Street Journal. He said an Iranian hacking group known as APT 35 had similarly targeted the Trump campaign.

Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company also said the hacking attempts were not successful.

A Google spokeswoman also told The Wall Street Journal there were “recent attempts and we saw a couple of targets on each campaign,” but declined to comment further.

“We are aware of reports from Google that a foreign actor has made unsuccessful attempts to access the personal email accounts of campaign staff,” a Biden spokesperson said in a statement provided to TechCrunch. “We have known from the beginning of our campaign that we would be subject to such attacks and we are prepared for them. Biden for President takes cybersecurity seriously, we will remain vigilant against these threats, and will ensure that the campaign’s assets are secured.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests from The Wall Street Journal and TechCrunch.

Microsoft uncovered up to 2,700 attempts by likely Iranian hackers attempting to hack emails of U.S. presidential candidates. A Wall Street Journal source indicated that hacking attempted to target a Trump campaign member. Those same efforts, dubbed by Microsoft as the “Phosphorus” hacks, also targeted government officials and journalists.

Both Republican and Democratic campaigns have made efforts to improve their cybersecurity measures at the campaign level. TechCrunch reported Democrats had updated security checklists while Republicans had put on training sessions to better educate campaign members about cybersecurity measures.