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SEPTEMBER 2020

Distraction Tactics: Reports Of Chinese and Iranian Hacking, Russians Behind Protests

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Distraction Tactics: Reports Of Chinese and Iranian Hacking, Russians Behind Protests

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State-backed Chinese hackers allegedly targeted staffers working on the U.S. presidential campaign of Democrat Joe Biden, and Iranian hackers allegedly targeted email accounts belonging to Republican President Donald Trump’s campaign staff.

Both of these claims were made by the head of Threat Analysis Group, Shane Huntley.

Huntley said there was “no sign of compromise” of either campaign. Essentially, both alleged hacking attempts resulted in nothing.

It comes at a very useful time, when the Black Lives Matter protests are sweeping the nation, and Google has generally remained neutral on the matter.

Google declined to provide any details on Huntley’s claims.

“We sent the targeted users our standard government-backed attack warning and we referred this information to federal law enforcement,” a Google representative said.

Attempts by foreign adversaries to break into presidential campaigns are allegedly common.

“We are aware of reports from Google that a foreign actor has made unsuccessful attempts to access the personal email accounts of campaign staff,” a Biden campaign spokesman said. “We have known from the beginning of our campaign that we would be subject to such attacks and we are prepared for them.”

The Trump campaign, the Chinese Embassy in Washington and the Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York provided no comment.

John Hultquist, senior director of intelligence analysis with U.S. cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc, described the two hacking groups as “espionage actors” and said they were likely attempting to collect intelligence rather than steal material to leak online.

The FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence also provided no comment on the matter.

Separately, US Attorney General William Barr claimed that “foreign actors” are stoking US protests.

Barr accused Antifa and other “extremist groups” of hijacking the protest to engage in violence and “senseless acts of anarchy.” Barr also alleged that some unspecified “foreign actors” have been “playing all sides to exacerbate the violence.”

In response, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova is an insult to Americans and a dismissal of the US’ actual problems.

“Firstly, it’s yet another attempt to explain internal problems by external factors. Secondly, it’s disrespect for US citizens whose problems are attributed to ‘foreign meddling’ without any evidence.”

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