Google caught Iranian and Chinese state hackers targeting the Trump and Biden campaigns

Google caught Iranian and Chinese state hackers targeting the Trump and Biden campaigns
US President Donald Trump (left) and Democratic PresidentialJIM WATSON,DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images
  • The head of Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) tweeted Thursday it had spotted attempts by Iranian and Chinese state-back hacking groups to attack the Trump and Biden campaigns.
  • The Iranian group known as APT35 had targeted the Trump campaign, while the Chinese group known as APT31 targeted Biden staffers.
  • Google said it alerted the affected users and federal law enforcement, and there was no evidence the attackers had been successful.

Google announced on Thursday it had caught state-backed hackers from China and Iran trying to target the presidential campaigns of President Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

Shane Huntley, head of Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG), announced the discovery in a post on Twitter.

"Recently TAG saw China APT group targeting Biden campaign staff & Iran APT targeting Trump campaign staff with phishing. No sign of compromise," Huntley said. He added Google had warned the campaign and referred its findings to federal law enforcement.


In a statement to TechCrunch, a Google spokesperson clarified the TAG had found an Iranian group targeting the personal email accounts of Trump campaign staff, while a Chinese group was targeting Biden staffers' accounts.

Spokespeople for the Trump and Biden campaigns confirmed to TechCrunch they were aware of the attempted attacks and said they had been unsuccessful.

"We have known from the beginning of our campaign that we would be subject to such attacks and we are prepared for them. Biden for President takes cybersecurity seriously, we will remain vigilant against these threats, and will ensure that the campaign's assets are secured," a Biden campaign spokesperson said.


Specifically, Huntley said Google had identified the known hacking groups as APT31 and APT35 (APT is an acronym for "advanced persistent threat." APT35, sometimes also known as Charming Kitten or Newscaster, is Iran-backed and last year Microsoft said it had caught the group trying to target the Trump campaign.