Microsoft has disclosed details about a significant hacking effort made from Iran whose target was the US Presidential campaign between the months of August and September.
According to a Friday report from Microsoft’s corporate vice president on customer security and trust, Tom Burt, the attack attempts was about 2,700 times with an effort to break into the email accounts which belongs to a US Presidential campaign, current and former US government officials as well as journalists and prominent Iranians who are living outside the country.
Microsoft when asked declined to name the particular Presidential campaign which is being attempted to be hacked but Reuters reported on Friday that the hackers were targeting the incumbent US President, Donald Trump’s campaign since his campaign official website is the only Presidential candidate’s page linked to Microsoft’s cloud email service.
Th group which Microsoft called Phosphorus attacked about 241 email accounts and successfully infiltrated four accounts in it’s campaign according to the company meanwhile no US Government official or the particular Presidential campaign’s were among the four compromised accounts.
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Microsoft said it believes the hackers are linked to the Iranian government. They gained access to four accounts by tricking password reset features, the company said.
“While the attacks we’re disclosing today were not technically sophisticated, they attempted to use a significant amount of personal information both to identify the accounts belonging to their intended targets and in a few cases to attempt attacks,” Burt said in the post.
The director of the US’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Chris Krebs, said the agency is aware of the hacking attempts, and is working with Microsoft to investigate.
“While much of this activity can likely be attributed to run-of-the-mill foreign intelligence service work, Microsoft’s claims that a presidential campaign was targeted is yet more evidence that our adversaries are looking to undermine our democratic institutions,” Krebs said in a statement.
The hack attempts on the US Presidential campaign highlight concerns about external meddling with the forthcoming 2020 US Presidential election. Russian hackers in 2016 were able to access the Democratic National Committee’s server which led to a significant election interference in the former Presidential election while the same effort continued during the mid-term elections as hackers targeted Sen. Clair McCaskill back in June 2018.
Google in fact warned lawmakers back in 2018 that foreign hackers would be targeting their GMail accounts this makes US Politicians the prime target of cyberattacks as the US Presidential election gets closer.
Nation-state actors are looking to access sensitive documents from political campaigns to interfere with US politics.
Microsoft didn’t disclose which presidential campaign was targeted in the attack. The Iranian hackers would seek access to a secondary email tied to the target’s Microsoft account. Once they had access to that account, they would prompt a password reset and use that to break in, the company said.