Iranian Hackers Targeted a U.S. Presidential Candidate
Russia is not the only country interested in swaying the 2020 election
As America hurtles toward another presidential election, the threat of Russian hacking, meddling and general deleterious behavior has occupied the minds of U.S. government officials and average voters alike. But, on Friday, Microsoft sounded an alarm that serves as a timely reminder that Russia doesn't have a monopoly on election hacking. In an aggressive new email phishing push, the company says, Iranian hackers targeted a U.S. presidential campaign.
Microsoft wouldn't say which candidate's operations the Iranian assailants hit, but Reuters reported on Friday that the target was President Donald Trump's reelection campaign, which is known to use Outlook as its email provider. Microsoft noted that the attacks on the campaign did not succeed. In a 30-day stretch during August and September, Microsoft saw hackers launch 2,700 attempts to identify specific target email accounts, including those belonging to current and former U.S. government officials, journalists and Iranians living outside Iran. They ultimately attacked 241 of those and successfully compromised four—none of which were associated with the U.S. presidential candidate or government officials. Microsoft has notified the victims.
Microsoft calls the Iran-linked hacker group Phosphorous and has tracked its activity in the past. The group is also known as APT 35 and Charming Kitten. In March, unsealed court documents revealed that Microsoft had obtained a court order to take over and dismantle 99 websites the group had used to launch its attacks.
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