It was the “most elaborate social-engineering campaign” these security researchers had ever seen.
A new report from iSight Partners, a Dallas-based computer-security firm, exposed on Thursday a three-year cyberespionage campaign carried out by Iranian hackers. The digital attacks, which infected about 2,000 U.S. personal computers since 2011, targeted members of the U.S. military and Congress, as well as diplomats, lobbyists, and Washington-based journalists.
The long-term campaign, dubbed “Newscaster” by the security firm, employed a dozen fake social-media accounts on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Hackers sent targets links that, when accessed, would unleash malware. They directed people to fake login screens to steal their user names and passwords. They impersonated journalists and defense contractors, and even set up a fake news website to lure victims.
All signs pointed to Iran as the source. Nicole Perlroth writes in The New York Times:
There were many clues. The fake NewsOnAir.org website was registered in Tehran and sites that hackers used to deploy their malware were also hosted in Iran. The malware that the hackers used contained several Persian words. The time stamps of hackers’ activity tracked with professional working hours in Tehran. They even took the day off on Iranian weekends and holidays.
Another telltale sign, researchers said, was the content the hackers posted on their personas’ social media. In some cases, they posted Iranian jokes to their Facebook pages. One hacker used a Facebook page to ask followers, “What’s kind of sanction will lead to undermining the Iranian nation?”
It’s unclear exactly what information these hackers stole. But the fact that such a highly coordinated attack went unnoticed for several years suggests that the technical skills of Iranian hackers, usually outdone by far-superior Chinese and Russian hackers, are improving. This time last year, a wave of attacks targeting American energy companies was traced to Iran. Back then, U.S. intelligence officials were already worried about Iranian hackers’ growing talents.
What We're Following See More »
Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."
"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.