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

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

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.

LESS DREADING, MORE DOING

This is the rubber-meets-road moment: the early days in our first fundraising drive since we took a big swing and merged with CIR to bring fearless investigative reporting to the internet, radio, video, and everywhere else that people need an antidote to lies and propaganda.

Donations have started slow, and we hope that explaining, level-headedly, why your support really is everything for our reporting will make a difference. Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” or in this 2:28 video about our merger (that literally just won an award), and please pitch in if you can right now.

payment methods

LESS DREADING, MORE DOING

This is the rubber-meets-road moment: the early days in our first fundraising drive since we took a big swing and merged with CIR to bring fearless investigative reporting to the internet, radio, video, and everywhere else that people need an antidote to lies and propaganda.

Donations have started slow, and we hope that explaining, level-headedly, why your support really is everything for our reporting will make a difference. Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” or in this 2:28 video about our merger (that literally just won an award), and please pitch in if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate