Unknown hackers briefly defaced President Donald Trump’s campaign website on Tuesday night, claiming — without evidence — that they had compromised “multiple devices” and stolen “strictly classified information.”
The message borrowed language common to disinformation campaigns designed to demoralize Americans and depress voter turnout, warning that “the US citizens have no choice.”
The play: In a message posted on the campaign’s website, the hackers asked people to send cryptocurrency to one of two virtual addresses to either encourage the hackers to release the data or discourage them from doing so. They said the stolen data would prove that Trump “is involved in the origin of the corona virus” and is cooperating “with foreign actors manipulating the 2020 elections.”
Trump campaign says not a chance: The Trump campaign said the hackers had not accessed any valuable information. “There was no exposure to sensitive data because none of it is actually stored on the site,” tweeted communications director Tim Murtaugh.
The campaign is working with authorities to investigate the attack, Murtaugh added.
Who to suspect: It remains unclear who conducted the attack. The fact that the hackers asked for money might suggest that they are not working on behalf of a nation-state. On the other hand, many government operatives also engage in for-profit hacks on the side, and a government agency might want to confuse investigators by posing as criminals with a profit motive.
The FBI declined to comment on the situation. A spokesperson for CISA, which works with the campaigns on election security, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The hackers’ message included a digital key that could ostensibly be used to contact them, but it pointed to a fake email address.
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