Updated Oct 4, 2019

NYT: Iranian hack on government officials, journalists also targeted Trump campaign

Photo: NurPhoto / Contributor/Getty Images

Microsoft believes an Iranian group tried to hack 241 email accounts of “a U.S. presidential campaign, current and former U.S. government officials, journalists covering global politics and prominent Iranians living outside Iran,” the company said Friday in a blog post.

The impact: The hackers — who were apparently backed by Iran's government — targeted President Trump's re-election campaign, the New York Times reports. The group allegedly compromised 4 accounts, which Microsoft said did not belong to government officials or a presidential campaign.

The big picture: The hacking attempts were not technologically complicated, and often involved using personal information found through research to reset victim passwords, including breaching a user’s backup email account to leverage access to a primary Microsoft-managed account.

  • The group Microsoft believes is behind the hacks is well-documented and directed by the Iranian government. In different naming schemes, it is called APT 35, Charming Kitten, The Ajax Security Team and Phosphorus.

The motive of the hackers is not immediately clear. Though election tampering is likely at the front of the American psyche for the U.S. targets, most foreign espionage is just espionage — spying to gain information to better understand global affairs and negotiations.

Go deeper: For hacked campaigns, 2020 might as well be 2016

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Google hires Microsoft veteran to run G Suite

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

In its bid to take on Microsoft Office, Google has hired someone who knows the product well: former Outlook boss Javier Soltero.

Why it matters: Google and Microsoft are in a tough battle to win the hearts, minds and email accounts of business customers. While G Suite has gained share, especially for email, Microsoft has pivoted Office from a desktop software to a subscription service.

Go deeperArrowOct 21, 2019

Microsoft's Pentagon cloud contract win opens new political battles

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Friday's announcement that the Defense Department chose Microsoft over Amazon for a huge cloud computing contract will set two new battles in motion — one procedural and one political.

Why it matters: Amazon's lawyers will likely challenge the decision, while 2020 Democratic candidates will line up to charge the Pentagon with putting its hand on the scales to please President Trump.

Go deeperArrowOct 28, 2019

U.S. hits Iran with cyberattack following Saudi oil bombings

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. has allegedly carried out another cyberattack against Iran in the wake of attacks on Saudi oil facilities in September, two unnamed U.S. officials told Reuters.

Why it matters, per Axios' Joe Uchill: This is the second publicly revealed round of cyberattacks in response to real world attacks, after U.S. Cyber Command targeted Iran following the downing of a U.S. drone in July. The U.S. and many of its allies have blamed Iran for the Saudi oil attacks, but Iran has vigorously denied the allegations.

Go deeperArrowOct 16, 2019