Microsoft Says Iranian Hackers Are Targeting a 2020 Presidential Campaign

The Democratic National Committee has asked campaigns to investigate possible incursions.

Avishek Das/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire

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Microsoft announced Friday that it had uncovered a hacking group associated with the Iranian government that had targeted journalists, current and former government officials, and at least one US presidential campaign.

The company released a statement saying that four consumer Microsoft email accounts had been compromised by a group its calling “Phosphorous,” but that those accounts did not belong to anyone associated with a presidential campaign or the government. The attackers were first observed making more than 2,700 attempts to identify specific Microsoft accounts over a 30-day period beginning in August, Microsoft said, and then targeted 241 specific accounts with phishing emails, fake LinkedIn accounts, and password-reset requests.

“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,” wrote Tom Burt, a Microsoft vice president overseeing customer security. “This effort suggests Phosphorous is highly motivated and willing to invest significant time and resources.”

The Democratic National Committee also issued a warning to campaigns on Friday revealing that the committee had been contacted by Microsoft, suggesting they check system logs for a related IP address, and offering advice as to how to defend against such attacks.

The announcement comes amidst President Donald Trump’s urging the governments of Ukraine and China to get involved in the 2020 election by investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, one of his chief political rivals and among the most prominent Democratic candidates to replace him.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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