Hackers Backed By Iran Targeted Presidential Campaign, Microsoft Says

October 4, 2019 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – Hackers backed by the Iranian government have been targeting the email accounts of at least one presidential campaign, current and former federal government officials and journalists covering political campaigns, Microsoft revealed Friday.

In a blog post on its website, the tech giant says that over a 30-day period between August and September, the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center observed a group it has dubbed “Phosphorus” making more than 2,700 attempts to identify consumer email accounts belonging to specific Microsoft customers and then attack 241 of those accounts.

“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,” Tom Burt, corporate vice president of Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft, wrote in the post.

“This effort suggests Phosphorous is highly motivated and willing to invest significant time and resources engaging in research and other means of information gathering,” he said.

Microsoft has not revealed the name of the presidential campaign, but its disclosure is just more evidence that U.S. adversaries are now picking up where Russia’s interference in the 2016 United States presidential election left off.

Burt said that Phosphorus used information gathered from researching their targets or other means to game password reset or account recovery features and attempt to take over some targeted accounts.

For example, they would seek access to a secondary email account linked to a user’s Microsoft account, then attempt to gain access to a user’s Microsoft account through verification sent to the secondary account.

In some instances, they gathered phone numbers belonging to their targets and used them to assist in authenticating password resets.

The company says four accounts were compromised as a result of these attempts. The four accounts were not associated with the U.S. presidential campaign or current and former U.S. government officials.

In addition to helping to secure those accounts, Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit has also taken legal and technical steps to combat Phosphorus attacks.

“We continue to take these types of actions,” Burt wrote.

Microsoft also reminded its customers that there are steps they can take to help secure their accounts. It is encouraging all customers to enable two-step verification on their accounts which can be done in Account Security settings.

2020 Elections

Andrew Yang Will be Back on Democratic Debate Stage in February
2020 Elections
Andrew Yang Will be Back on Democratic Debate Stage in February

WASHINGTON — Businessman and outsider Democratic candidate for president, Andrew Yang, has earned a spot in the upcoming eighth democratic debate in New Hampshire. To make the stage for the debate on Feb. 7, candidates have to receive at least 5% in four Democratic National Committee-approved... Read More

Pennsylvania’s Presidential Election Could Be Too Close to Call for Days Because of a New Law
Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s Presidential Election Could Be Too Close to Call for Days Because of a New Law

PHILADELPHIA — People holding their breath to see how Pennsylvania votes in the 2020 presidential election might not want to wait up too late on election night. While the unofficial and more immediately available results have accounted for the vast majority of votes cast in years... Read More

Buttigieg Tells Conference America Would Be Better Governed With 'A Mayor's Eye View'
2020 Elections
Buttigieg Tells Conference America Would Be Better Governed With 'A Mayor's Eye View'
January 24, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - A year to the day after ushering reporters into a windowless conference room at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting here to announce his seemingly unlikely bid for the White House, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg returned to the conference Thursday as a... Read More

Once More Into the Fray: Battles Brewing in Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina
2020 Elections
Once More Into the Fray: Battles Brewing in Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina
January 24, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The story is a familiar one if you've been reading or talking about battleground and swing states this election cycle. Thanks to a combination of Donald Trump’s razor-thin wins and Hillary Clinton's narrow losses in 2016, and the changing demographics of state electorates, a... Read More

Blue Dogs Back Legislation to Secure Voting Systems
Elections
Blue Dogs Back Legislation to Secure Voting Systems
January 24, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats has endorsed H.R. 4990, the Election Technology Research Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill that will give the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation new resources to enhance the security of U.S.... Read More

Impeachment Cellphone Ban Gives Senate Pages a Workout
Impeachment
Impeachment Cellphone Ban Gives Senate Pages a Workout

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial may be requiring senators to stay seated hour after agonizing hour, but there’s one group getting more exercise than they’ve seen in years: Senate pages. The blue-jacket-clad teens have been running all over the Senate floor, relaying messages between... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top