Microsoft said Friday that an Iranian government-linked hacking group had targeted email accounts associated with an unnamed U.S. presidential campaign, along with current and former U.S. government officials.
Over 30 days between August and September, hackers made more than 2,700 “attempts” to identify email accounts belonging to specific customers, Microsoft said. From there, they attacked 241 of those accounts, the company said.
Four accounts were compromised as a result of those attacks. None of the breached accounts were associated with the U.S. presidential campaign or with current or former U.S. government officials, according to Microsoft. The company is working with the affected customers to secure their accounts, Burt said.
While Microsoft did not name the presidential campaign that the Iranian hackers targeted, Reuters reported that it was the Trump campaign. Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s director of communications, told Reuters the campaign had no indication that its infrastructure was targeted by the hackers.
CyberScoop could not independently confirm that the Trump campaign was targeted by the Iranian hackers. However, a search of public domain records did show that the Trump campaign’s email provider is Microsoft.
The Democratic National Committee on Tuesday sent an advisory to Democratic presidential campaigns flagging the Microsoft discovery. The Iranian hackers have been “attacking personal as well as official work accounts,” the DNC email said. “They create believable spear phishing emails and fake LinkedIn profiles as primary tactics.”
The activity is the latest reminder that foreign governments will try to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election. On Thursday, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security advised state election officials that the Russian government could use voter suppression tactics in an attempt to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election.
Burt described the hacking attempts as “not technically sophisticated,” but still clever: attackers gathered a good deal of personal information on their targets and used account recovery features to try to take over some email accounts.
In March, Microsoft used a court order to seize 99 websites that the hacking group was using to conduct cyberattacks.
Shannon Vavra contributed reporting.