In 2016, Russian operatives hacked into the email accounts of Democrats before the general election in the United States. And now Google confirmed on June 4 that once again, foreign adversaries are hacking campaign accounts months before the November general election.
Hacking campaign sites
According to Google, hackers from China are targeting former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign staff while hackers that are from Iran are targeting President Trump's campaign staff.
Shane Huntley, the head of Google's Threat Analysis Group, stated that both campaigns were targeted with phishing attacks.
Huntley stated that there was no sign that the attempts of the hackers were successful. He made the announcement of the illegal activity on Twitter, and he added that Google passed the information onto the federal law enforcement.
What is phishing?
Phishing is when a false email that contains malware is sent to a target. The email has a link that entices the target to click on it, and it downloads a software that is controlled by an attacker that might get personal information from the computer or other devices.
Google's announcement reminded the public of Russia's interference during the 2016 election and the other countries may do the same thing this November.
The Biden campaign released a statement and said that they have known from the beginning that their campaign would be attacked by hackers, but clarified that they are prepared for such attacks.The Trump campaign, on the other hand, had not responded to Google's announcement yet.
In early 2020, The New York Times released a report that a group of hackers from Russia hacked a gas company in Ukraine. The said company is where Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, worked. In 2019, Microsoft stated that Iranian hackers tried to target Trump's campaign staffers, journalists, and US officials, both former and current.
Campaigns are the most vulnerable part of the ecosystem of elections, they do not have the money or time to create and develop security plans that will work long term. The election security community is also bringing in new staff without training and those staffers and volunteers may be using their own accounts or equipment.
The campaign manager of Hilary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential race, Robby Mook, said that the irony of campaigns is that they are the least-resourced startups but they are very valuable targets.
Since the election in 2016, the problem has been recognized and has been acknowledged by both the Democrats and Republicans. The Democratic National Committee has made a public showing of releasing campaign checklists for cybersecurity after it was scrutinized for its failings in 2016.
Russian hackers released materials that were stolen from Democrats and embarrassed the leaders of the political party.
However, hackers also continue to grow more advanced according to the co-founder of the cybersecurity firm Cofense, Aaron Higbee. Higbee added that the hackers did not have to try that hard in 2016 to interfere with the election and they are more capable now and that is what both political parties should be looking out for.