Chinese, Iranian Hackers Targeted Biden, Trump Campaign Email Accounts, Google Says

(Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

Chinese hackers have targeted the emails accounts of former vice president Joe Biden’s campaign staff, while Iranian hackers attempted to hack Trump campaign email accounts, Google confirmed Thursday.

The campaigns have been briefed on the threats, both of which were so-called spear-phishing attacks in which spam emails that include malicious links are sent to targets with the hopes they will click the link and unknowingly download malicious software.

There is no evidence hackers succeeded in breaching any accounts, according to Shane Huntley, who heads Google’s Threat Analysis Group. Google has referred the matter to federal law enforcement, Huntley said.

The attacks come four years after Russian operatives hacked the emails of Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, causing upheaval in the campaign and resulting in the release of thousands of stolen emails and documents just before the election.

The Biden campaign confirmed that Google has notified campaign officials of the “high priority” hacking attempts.

“We have known from the beginning of our campaign that we would be subject to such attacks and we are prepared for them,” the campaign said in a statement. “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 also said it has been briefed on the threat and assured, “We are vigilant about cybersecurity and do not discuss any of our precautions.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last summer that the U.S. is prepared to defend itself against hacking attempts during the 2020 election season.

“The entire United States government is focused not only on preventing Russia from interfering but Iran, North Korea, China – anybody who wants to mess with American elections. The American people should know that this administration is incredibly focused on it. I only wish the previous one had been,” Pompeo said in July.

In 2018, the Justice Department announced the indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers for their role in the hacking attacks on the Clinton campaign and the DNC. The indictment arose from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.

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