Tami Abdollah, Associated Press
Published Friday, October 4, 2019 1:50 PM EDT
Last updated Friday, October 4, 2019 1:51 PM EDT
WASHINGTON [Reuters] – Microsoft said on Friday that hackers linked to the Iranian government were targeting a US presidential campaign, as well as government officials, media targets and detached Iranian expats.
Overall, hackers attempted to hack 241 accounts – four successfully – although none of them were associated with presidential campaigns or current or former US officials, Microsoft said. A company spokeswoman declined to identify targets, citing customer privacy.
The announcement is the latest sign that foreign governments are looking for ways to potentially disrupt the 2020 presidential election. US intelligence officials have sounded the alarm about the risks for months.
In a blog post released Friday, Tom Burt, corporate vice president of security and customer trust, said owners of four accounts compromised by hackers were notified.
Attacks by a group Microsoft calls a match took place over a 30-day period between August and September.
Burt said Iranian hackers used password reset and account recovery features to try to take over the accounts. For example, they gathered phone numbers from destinations to help with password reset.
Hackers searched their targets, making over 2,700 attempts to identify emails belonging to a specific Microsoft customer. A spokeswoman declined to provide further details.