By Robert McMillan 

Campaign staffers working on the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Joe Biden have been targeted with online attacks coming from Iran and China respectively, Google said Thursday.

These so-called phishing attacks are often an attempt to gain access to online email accounts. They raise the specter of a repeat of the 2016 campaign, during which Russian hackers stole information from Democratic staffers and posted them online.

The attacks don't appear to have been successful, Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., said. The company has notified federal authorities and the targeted users of the attacks, said Shane Huntley, who runs Google's in-house counterespionage group, known as the Threat Analysis Group.

The Biden campaign was targeted by a China-based group, known as APT 31, Mr. Huntley said. This group has been linked by security firms to the Chinese government. The Trump campaign was targeted by an Iranian group called APT 35, he said. APT stands for advanced persistent threat, a shorthand used by cybersecurity professionals for sophisticated adversaries that are backed by nation-states.

These were "recent attempts and we saw a couple of targets on each campaign," a Google spokeswoman said, while declining to provide further details on the incidents.

Representatives of the Trump and Biden campaigns couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Microsoft Corp. in October said that at least one U.S. presidential campaign has been targeted by cyberattacks linked to the Iranian government. That attack targeted a staffer with the Trump campaign, according to a source familiar with the matter.

(More to come)

Write to Robert McMillan at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 04, 2020 14:38 ET (18:38 GMT)

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