News and Commentary

Hackers Try To Knock Trump Campaign Offline Before Election: Report

"As we get closer to the election, attacks are increasing."
Hacker -- cyber attack -- Close up of skull icon on monitor screen

Hackers have been trying to “knock Trump campaign and business websites offline” before Election Day, according to a new report.

U.S. cybersecurity firm Cloudflare, hired by President Donald Trump to help secure his campaign’s websites, says the attempts might be preparation for a full-scale assault, according to emails seen by Reuters.

Cloudflare helps businesses defend against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, used by hackers to take websites offline by flooding them with traffic.

“Internal Cloudflare emails sent to senior company managers — including CEO Matthew Prince — on July 9 state that the number and severity of attacks on Trump websites increased in the preceding two months and reached record levels in June. The emails did not give the total number of attacks,” Reuters wrote.

“As we get closer to the election, attacks are increasing in both numbers [and] sophistication,” said Cloudflare’s assessment. The firm also said hackers “succeeded in disrupting access to the targeted websites for short periods of time between March 15 and June 6.”

“We have seen an increase in cyberattacks targeting political candidates. We will continue to work to ensure these attacks do not disrupt free and fair elections,” Cloudflare said in a statement to the news agency.

The security firm did not identify the hackers or say from where the attacks originated.

Both the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign have been hit by hackers. Google said in June that foreign adversaries tried to hit both.

“Chinese-backed hackers were observed targeting former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign staff, and Iranian-backed hackers were seen targeting President Trump’s campaign staff. Both were targeted with phishing attacks, according to Shane Huntley, the head of Google’s Threat Analysis Group,” NPR reported.

“Phishing” is when hackers send emails to a target disguised to appear as if they come from trusted sources. Often, when the target clicks an enclosed link, a malicious software downloads onto the computer, which can then be used to take control.

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

Iranian hackers have tried to break into Trump campaign officials’ email accounts before. Last year, Microsoft Corp announced that a group nicknamed Charming Kitten tried to hack into email accounts “belonging to an unnamed U.S. presidential campaign, which sources identified as Trump’s,” Reuters reported in June.

At the time, Iran’s mission to the United Nations denied involvement in the cyber attacks. “The Iranian government does not engage in cyber warfare,” spokesman Alireza Miryousefi said. “Cyber activities Iran engages in are purely defensive and to protect against further attacks on Iranian infrastructure.”

Related: George W. Bush Presidential Center Hacked; Ransom Paid To Have Cyber Attackers Destroy Stolen Info

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