Chinese and Iranian hackers targeted Biden and Trump campaigns, Google says

Technology

FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at an event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. June 2, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – State-backed hackers from China have targeted staffers working on the U.S. presidential campaign of Democrat Joe Biden, a senior Google security official said on Thursday. The same official said Iranian hackers had recently targeted email accounts belonging to Republican President Donald Trump’s campaign staff.

The announcement, made on Twitter by the head of Google’s Threat Analysis Group, Shane Huntley, is the latest indication of the digital spying routinely aimed at top politicians of all stripes.

Huntley said there was “no sign of compromise” of either campaign.

Iranian attempts to break into Trump campaign officials’ emails have been documented before. Last year, Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) announced that a group often nicknamed Charming Kitten had tried to break into email accounts belonging to an unnamed U.S. presidential campaign, which sources identified as Trump’s.

Earlier this year, the threat intelligence company Area 1 Security said Russian hackers had targeted companies tied to a Ukrainian gas firm where Biden’s son once served on the board.

Google declined to offer details beyond Huntley’s tweets, but the unusually public attribution is a sign of how sensitive Americans have become to digital espionage efforts aimed at political campaigns.

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

The Trump and Biden campaigns did not immediately return messages. The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to messages.

Reporting by Christopher Bing; Additional reporting by Raphael Satter in Washington and Jack Stubbs in London; Editing by Chris Sanders, Lisa Shumaker and Leslie Adler

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