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Foreign hackers targeted Trump and Biden campaign Gmail accounts, Google says

Hackers from Iran and China have targeted the presidential campaigns of both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, according to Google.

Hackers reportedly targeted campaign staffers’ Gmail accounts, according to a tweet from Shane Huntley, director for Google’s Threat Analysis Group, on Thursday. Huntley said there was no sign of any accounts being compromised and that Google sent users a warning about the targeted hack. 

Recently TAG saw China APT group targeting Biden campaign staff & Iran APT targeting Trump campaign staff with phishing. No sign of compromise. We sent users our govt attack warning and we referred to fed law enforcement.

— Shane Huntley (@ShaneHuntley) June 4, 2020

Huntley also tweeted that the hackers were identified as China’s APT31 and Iran’s APT35.

Google told Digital Trends that the attempted hacks were recent and that there were a couple of targets. A Google spokesperson said that the company encourages campaign staff to use extra protection in their emails, such as two-factor authentication or Advanced Protection.

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

Biden’s campaign said in an official statement that it has been preparing for an attack like this to happen.

“We are aware of reports from Google that a foreign actor has made unsuccessful attempts to access the personal email accounts of campaign staff,” a campaign 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.”

Digital Trends also reached out to the Trump campaign to comment. We will update this story when we hear back. 

Although these cyberattacks come at a sensitive time as the U.S. heads into the 2020 presidential elections, it’s not the first time that Iran’s APT35 group, also known as Phosphorous, has been linked to attacks on computer systems of businesses and governments.

Last year, Microsoft was targeted by a similar hack attempt by Iran. The series of cyberattacks targeted U.S. presidential candidates and their campaigns, journalists, and current and former government officials. Of the 241 attempted attacks, Microsoft reported at the time that a total of four accounts were compromised.

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