US presidential election: Iranian hackers pose as white supremacists

Funny mails… Thousands of Americans received campaign messages earlier this week. These emails, sent from an address that seemed affiliated with the Proud Boys, this white supremacist group under fire from critics in the United States, questioned the good conduct of the November 3 ballot and therefore called for votes for Donald Trump, the Republican candidate. “We will find you,” threatened the members of this fundamentally violent far-right group. In fact, the Proud Boys, who deny being the authors of the message, are said to be Iranian hackers. Who, according to Reuters, would have self-imposed.

Thursday, Washington announced new sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards, the ideological army of Tehran, the Quds Force, the Bayan Rasaneh Gistar Institute as well as Iranian media for “attempting to interfere” in the presidential election. “The Iranian regime has targeted the United States electoral process with brazen attempts to sow discord among voters by spreading disinformation online and carrying out malicious operations to mislead them,” the United States Treasury said in a report. communicated.

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin spoke of “false stories” and “other misleading content”, without establishing a clear link with the words, the day before, of the director of American intelligence. On Wednesday evening, John Ratcliffe accused Iran and Russia of having got their hands, “separately”, on data from American voters to whom the famous e-mails were sent, intended “to intimidate voters, to incite social unrest and harm ”President Donald Trump, candidate for a second term.

Earlier this week, after sending the email on behalf of the Proud Boys, by the thousands, in many key states, the hackers also tried to distribute their video through fake accounts on Facebook and Twitter. According to social media analytics firm Graphika, on Tuesday night, two Twitter accounts began posting links to the video, trying to gain the attention of some media and political organizations. One of the accounts described himself as a “Trump’s Soldier”.

A rookie mistake

But by these maneuvers, they got trapped. The video shows the computer screen of hackers breaking into a voter registration system to modify it. Sensitive subject in the United States, where postal voting, widely used, could give rise to dispute the result of the ballot. And which refers to the 2016 election, where the Russians tried to undermine confidence in the legitimacy of the election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. But on this filmed screen, FBI investigators, aided by specialists from Google and Microsoft, noticed scraps of computer code, file names and an IP address. This, hosted by an online service called Worldstream, linked to a previous hacking action from Iran. Analysts then cross-checked these clues with other data, including communications interceptions and the study of data flow.

The Netherlands-based company Worldstream said in a statement, after being contacted by Reuters, that the account associated with the IP address had been suspended and the server used had been put on hold. service only on October 6. Asked by Worldstream, the Dutch National Cybersecurity Center has opened an investigation.

Attributing the malicious email to hackers based in Iran does not necessarily mean that a group is working on the orders of the Iranian government. Iran has also insisted that the accusations were “unfounded”. In Tehran, the Iranian foreign ministry summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents the interests of the United States in the Islamic Republic for lack of relations between the two enemy countries.

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