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Trump, Biden campaigns targeted by state hackers

September 11, 2020

Russian, Chinese and Iranian hackers have targeted US electoral campaigns less than two months before the vote. Experts said the operations were likely aimed at intelligence gathering as opposed to election meddling.

Sunlight hits the American Flag that hangs above the hand of the statue of George Washington
Image: picture-alliance/newscom/UPI Photo/J. Angelillo

US tech giant Microsoft said on Thursday that Russian, Chinese and Iranian cyber operations had targeted the electoral campaigns of US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

"The activity we are announcing today makes clear that foreign activity groups have stepped up their efforts targeting the 2020 election as had been anticipated," said Tom Burt, Microsoft's vice president for customer security.

Burt referred to allegations that Russian hackers had targeted the 2016 US presidential election. US intelligence agencies and private cybersecurity companies have accused a Russian GRU military intelligence unit dubbed "Fancy Bear" of spearheading 2016 efforts.

Microsoft said "Fancy Bear" was also active in the latest attempts to infiltrate both campaigns.

"What we've seen is consistent with previous attack patterns that not only target candidates and campaign staffers but also those who they consult on key issues," added Burt.

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'Fair and square'

Trump campaign officials said they weren't surprised given that the president's re-election effort is "a large target."

"President Trump will beat Joe Biden fair and square and we don't need or want any foreign interference," said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign's communications director.

Although the Chinese and Iranian governments have yet to comment on the matter, the press secretary for the Russian embassy in the US, Nikolay Lakhonin said US authorities had yet to offer "factual evidence" to support their allegations of Russian election meddling.

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ls/msh (Reuters, AP)