Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 15 July 2020

Iranian hackers targeted Trump campaign, Google says

Tehran-backed APT35 group known to attack officials in US and Middle East

Iranian hackers tried to target Donald Trump's re-election campaign, Google said on Thursday. Reuters
Iranian hackers tried to target Donald Trump's re-election campaign, Google said on Thursday. Reuters

Google security researchers on Thursday said they intercepted attempts by state-backed Iranian hackers to infiltrate Donald Trump's November re-election campaign in the US.

Shane Huntley, director for Google’s Threat Analysis Group, said in a tweet that state hackers had hit the campaign using malicious phishing emails.

Phishing is where hackers try to trick someone into providing a password that a criminals can use to sign into the account.

Mr Huntley said in a later tweet that the group behind the emails was Iran’s APT35.

APT35, also known as Charming Kitten and Phosphorous, is a cyber-espionage group sponsored by the Iranian government.

Mr Huntley said on Thursday that there were “no signs of compromise” and the Trump campaign was alerted of the attempt.

He said the case had been referred to federal law enforcement agencies.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last year Microsoft blamed APT35 for attacking the Mr Trump’s office, as well as other US officials, journalists covering global politics and Iranians living outside their country.

The hackers, who have been active since 2014, have also attacked Middle East military, officials, media organisations, energy and defence industrial bases, and the engineering, business and telecommunications sectors.

Hackers have increased their attempts to infiltrate people and networks amid the coronavirus pandemic, with many health organisations being targeted for their Covid-19 research.

This month, the APT35 hit the World Health Organisation with emails, which purported to be from news organisations and researchers, containing malicious links.

The cyber criminals also targeted US drug maker Gilead Sciences, Reuters reported.

At the time, Iran’s mission to the UN denied any involvement in the cyber attacks.

“The Iranian government does not engage in cyber warfare,” spokesman Alireza Miryousefi said.

“Cyber activities Iran engages in are purely defensive and to protect against further attacks on Iranian infrastructure.”

Mr Huntley also said that Chinese hacking group APT31 appeared to target Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign with phishing emails, but they were also thwarted.

Updated: June 5, 2020 01:16 AM

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