Chinese, Iranian hackers said to be targeting US presidential campaigns

San Francisco, Jun 4 (efe-epa).- Hackers based in Iran and China, respectively, have been engaging in cyber attacks on the campaigns of US President Donald Trump and likely 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Google said Thursday.

The head of Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG), Shane Huntley, shared the news 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 wrote.

“We sent the targeted users our standard government-backed attack warning and we referred this information to federal law enforcement,” a Google representative said later Thursday.

The term advanced persistent threat (APT) refers to a sustained, sophisticated cyber-attack effort. While “phishing” is the practice of embedding malware or links to attacker-controlled websites in emails purporting to be from people known to the target.

“If you are working on a campaign this election cycle, your personal accounts may be targeted. Use the best protection you can. Two-factor authentication or Advanced Protection really can make a difference,” Huntley said.

While most phishing activity is carried out by cyber criminals in pursuit of access to bank accounts and other financial assets, politically motivated hacking has grown in significance.

“We are aware of reports from Google that a foreign actor has made unsuccessful attempts to access the personal email accounts of campaign staff. We have known from the beginning of our campaign that we would be subject to such attacks and we are prepared for them,” Biden’s organization said in a statement.

“Biden for President takes cyber-security seriously. We will remain vigilant against these threats and will ensure that the campaign’s assets are secured,” the former vice president’s team said.

The Trump campaign has yet to comment on the alert from Google.

In 2019, Microsoft Corp said that an Iran-based APT group known as “Charming Kitten” was detected trying to hack email accounts connected to the Trump campaign. EFE arc/dr

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