On Tuesday, hackers briefly commandeered the official Trump campaign website. The hacking operation, the precise origin of which is not immediately clear, placed a message on the site insisting that “the world has had enough of the fake-news spreaded daily by president donald j trump.” The message added that “it is time to allow the world to know truth.” In their message posted on the website, the hackers claimed that “multiple devices were compromised that gave full access to trump and relatives,” although there’s no immediate indication that this claim is true. The hack seems to have been part of a cryptocurrency scam — the message closed by directing readers to send cryptocurrency (web-based currency) to a particular recipient if they wanted to “know the truth.”
Trump campaign site "defaced" in apparent hack https://t.co/80tOXf3iMl
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 28, 2020
Interestingly, the hacking message included a claim that the hackers had obtained evidence that “the trump-gov is involved in the origin of the corona virus.” (The message included almost no capital letters.) The idea that the Trump administration had anything to do with the “origin of the corona virus” is a baseless conspiracy theory that seems to be on par with the conspiracy theories from those on the far-right who allege that top Democrats are secretly a part of a Satan-worshiping cult. Nevertheless, the Trump campaign website hack was real, but campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh claims that no “sensitive data” was actually vulnerable because no information along those lines is stored on the campaign website.
The Trump campaign website takeover, which lasted less than 30 minutes, unfolded amidst heightened nationwide suspicion over the possibility of foreign interference in U.S. elections. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe recently revealed that Iran was apparently behind threatening emails sent to voters in Florida and elsewhere; the messages claimed to be from the violent right-wing group known as the Proud Boys and demanded that recipients change their political party registrations to Republican or face retaliation.
In this new case involving the Trump campaign website, The New York Times reports that experts in cybersecurity “said that the incident could have been caused by tricking a website administrator into turning over their credentials, in what is known as a phishing attack, or by redirecting the campaign website to the hacker’s own server.”
Recently, The New York Times reported that, among U.S. intelligence analysts, there’s a fear of potential Russian meddling in the immediate aftermath of Election Day. If the outcome of the race remains uncertain for an extended period of time, Russian operatives “could use their knowledge of local computer systems to deface websites, release nonpublic information or take similar steps that could sow chaos and doubts about the… results,” the Times says.
American officials expect that if the presidential race is not called on election night, Russian groups could use their knowledge of local computer systems to deface websites, release nonpublic information or take similar steps that could sow chaos and doubts about the results. https://t.co/YZowUIbnSg
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 22, 2020
President Donald Trump himself has proven ready and willing to spread some of these doubts before the results even emerge. He has repeatedly threatened to reject the election results, baselessly claiming that there’s some kind of system-threatening potential of election fraud. There is not — his claims do not have merit. Nevertheless, he could use these claims as an excuse to challenge the election results.