Hackers Targeted Trump,Biden Campaigns 06/05 06:17
Google said state-backed hackers have targeted the campaigns of both
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, although it saw no
evidence that the phishing attempts were successful.
BOSTON (AP) -- Google said state-backed hackers have targeted the campaigns
of both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, although it
saw no evidence that the phishing attempts were successful.
The company confirmed the findings after the director of its Threat Analysis
Group, Shane Huntley, disclosed the attempts Thursday on Twitter.
Huntley said a Chinese group known as Hurricane Panda targeted Trump
campaign staffers while an Iranian outfit known as Charming Kitten had
attempted to breach accounts of Biden campaign workers. Such phishing attempts
typically involve forged emails with links designed to harvest passwords or
infect devices with malware.
The effort targeted personal email accounts of staffers in both campaigns,
according to the company statement. A Google spokesman added that "the timeline
is recent and that a couple of people were targeted on both campaigns." He
would not say how many.
Google said it sent targeted users "our standard government-backed attack
warning" and referred the incidents to federal law enforcement.
Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research
Lab, called the announcement "a major disclosure of potential cyber-enabled
influence operations, just as we saw in 2016."
His tweet referred to the Russian hacking of the Democratic National
Committee and Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and subsequent
online release of internal emails -- some doctored -- that U.S. investigators
determined sought to assist the Trump campaign.
Neither the Biden nor the Trump campaign would not say how many staffers
were targeted, when the attempts took place or whether the phishing was
Both campaigns have been extremely reticent about discussing cybersecurity.
"The Trump campaign has been briefed that foreign actors unsuccessfully
attempted to breach the technology of our staff," the campaign said in a
statement. "We are vigilant about cybersecurity and do not discuss any of our
The Biden campaign did not even confirm the attempt.
"We are aware of reports from Google that a foreign actor has made
unsuccessful attempts to access the personal email accounts of campaign staff,"
it 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."
Hurricane Panda, also known by security researchers as Zirconium or APT31 --
an abbreviation for "advanced persistent threat" -- is known for focusing on
intellectual property theft and other espionage. Charming Kitten, also known as
Newscaster and APT35, is reported to have targeted U.S. and Middle Eastern
government officials and businesses, also for information theft and spying.
In October, Microsoft said hackers linked to Iran's government had targeted
a U.S. presidential campaign and the New York Times and Reuters identified the
target as Trump's re-election campaign. Campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said at
the time that there was "no indication that any of our campaign infrastructure
A former director of the National Security Agency, Keith Alexander, said
Thursday during an online seminar that he fully expects geopolitical rivals of
the U.S. to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis and unrest in the U.S.
"This is an increased time I think for adversaries to hurt our country and I
do think they will take that during elections," he said.