United States tech giant Microsoft confirmed on Thursday that hackers that are linked to Russia, China and Iran are attempting to spy on people that are tied with U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
The statement made by Microsoft shows how advisers to both presidential campaigns are currently at risk from digital spies from around the globe, with the two candidates facing off on November 3 in the presidential election.
The announcement made by Microsoft’s vice president for customer security, Tom Burt, said that same Russian spying group which was accused of breaching Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails in 2016, had spent the past year attempting to enter accounts that belong to political consultants that are serving both Republicans and Democrats, and also advocacy organisations and think tanks.
Apart from these, Chinese hackers had already attempted to go after people that are “closely associated with U.S. presidential campaigns and candidates”, one of which being an unnamed Biden ally that was targeted through their own personal email address, and also “at least one prominent individual formerly associated with the Trump Administration”.
Burt added that Iranian hackers, which had already been called out by the tech giant for trying to spy on Trump’s U.S. political campaign, had since then tried once again to log into accounts that belonged to the Trump administration officials and members of the Republican president’s campaign staff.
Burt claimed that the Chinese effort to compromise the Biden ally and the Iranian spying against the Trump campaign were unsuccessful, yet his blog post showed no details on the hacking campaign done by the Russian hackers, or the effort to compromise the well-known former Trump associate.
He also added that generally, foreign hacking was increasing substantially as the vote drew nearer.
He stated that “The activity we are announcing today makes clear that foreign activity groups have stepped up their efforts targeting the 2020 election as had been anticipated”.
Christopher Krebs, the Department of Homeland Security’s top cyber official, confirmed that Microsoft’s warning was consistent with the earlier statements made by the intelligence community when it comes to Russian, Chinese and Iranian spies targeting election-related people.
Krebs said that “It is important to highlight that none are involved in maintaining or operating voting infrastructure and there was no identified impact on election systems”.
The Biden and Trump campaigns both responded to the claims being made, saying that they are aware of the situation and were not surprised by it at all.
On the other hand, Russian Embassy Press Secretary Nikolay Lakhonin fought back against these allegations, stating that Americans had been discussing “so-called ‘interference’” for several years without providing any sort of “factual evidence”.
Iran also responded, with Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesperson for Iran’s United Nations mission in New York, saying that it was “preposterous to even think that Iran would conduct hacking”.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to questions, with Beijing previously denying any claims of cyber espionage made.