- Hackers from Iran and China targeted the presidential campaigns of President Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
- No information was compromised and authorities were warned in time, Google said.
- Iranian hackers had in 2018 targeted email accounts belonging to President Trump’s campaign workforce.
Beefing up cybersecurity and protecting data from laptop-wielding larcenists is one of the most essential tasks for every individual. More so for potential presidents of the United States. Now, top politicians namely POTUS Donald Trump and Joe Biden became the latest targets for hackers, Google revealed.
Attempts to hack Gmail accounts of employees working for their presidential campaigns through phishing emails were being made by Chinese and Iranian hackers. However, no information was compromised and law enforcement was alerted right then, head of Google’s Threat Analysis Group, Shane Huntley revealed on twitter.
“Recently TAG saw China APT group targeting Biden campaign staff & Iran APT targeting Trump campaign staff with phishing. No sign of compromise,” Huntley tweeted.
Phishing is a common method used by cybercriminals to extract data through emails with hidden malware. While at first the email seems to be sent from a trusted source, clicking on the link in the email activates the malware, therefore, allowing hackers to access private information they want.
A Google spokesperson confirmed the news and told TechCrunch that its threat analysis department indeed detected phishing attempts from a Chinese and an Iranian group targeting the personal email accounts of Trump and Biden’s campaign staff. The tech giant said that countermeasures such as two-factor authentication must be taken by every employee to encourage better protection.
“We didn’t see evidence that these attempts were successful. We sent the targeted users our standard government-backed attack warning and we referred this information to federal law enforcement. We encourage campaign staff to use extra protection for their work and personal emails, and we offer security resources such as our Advanced Protection Program and free security keys for qualifying campaigns,” the spokesperson said.
Huntley further said in his next tweet that the hackers have been discovering to be China’s APT31 and Iran’s APT35, both known to foil government officials. The Iranian hacking group Charming Kitten is the same group responsible for targeting the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences Inc earlier this year.
When contacted by TechCrunch, a spokesperson for the Biden campaign said they will continue to boost cybersecurity from their end and keep Biden’s campaigns secure. The spokesperson said:
“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.”
Politicians repeatedly being targeted by hackers
It’s hardly the first time that Trump has been targeted by Iranian hackers. Microsoft allegedly accused the APT35 of attempting to target Trump in 2019 and infiltrate his re-election campaign. It identified more than 2,700 attempts to hack the presidential campaign.
Furthermore, Russian hackers have in the past tried to break into the Democratic National Committee’s servers along with the email accounts of Hillary Clinton’s campaign workers during the 2016 US presidential election.
Looking at how technology rules our lives today, the cost of one wrong click is rather high and, in this case, can cause either of the politician’s efforts to win the US election.