President Trump’s campaign website was briefly taken over by hackers who degraded the site on Tuesday.
The degradation lasted less than 30 minutes, but the incident came as the campaign of Mr. Trump and that of his opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., as well as law enforcement and intelligence agencies, were on alert for digital interference before the next one. election of the week.
In a statement, Tim Murtaugh, a spokesperson for the Trump campaign, confirmed the downgrade of the website and said he was “working with law enforcement to investigate the source of the attack.” He added: “There has been no exposure to sensitive data as none of it is actually stored on the site. The website has been restored. “
The FBI did not immediately comment on the incident. The degradation was first noted on Twitter by Gabriel Lorenzo Greschler, a journalist to the Jewish News of Northern California, while researching an article on climate change.
It was not clear whether the degradation was by hackers or foreign cybercriminals. But in a screed posted on Mr. Trump’s website – donaldjtrump.com – the hackers claimed to have compromised “several devices” that gave them access to the “most internal and secret conversations” of the president and his relatives, including including classified information.
The hackers also accused the Trump administration, without proof, of having participated in the origins of the coronavirus and of cooperating with “foreign actors manipulating the 2020 elections”.
Hackers appear to be looking to generate cryptocurrency. They invited visitors to donate cryptocurrency to one of two funds – one titled “Yes, share the data”, the other titled “No, don’t share the data”. They requested payments in Monero, a cryptocurrency that is difficult to trace.
“After the deadline we will compare the funds and carry out the will of the world,” they wrote, without specifying a deadline. The hackers also posted what they said was their encryption key, apparently to verify that any information they posted came from them. The key is an email address on a non-existent website.
While the downgrade appears to be part of a common cryptocurrency scam to trick people into irreversibly donating money online, the incident took on added urgency a week before the election. Cyber security experts said the incident could have been caused by tricking a website administrator into returning their credentials, in what is known as a phishing attack, or by redirecting the campaign website to the hacker’s own server.
Intelligence agencies are closely monitoring hacking groups, including Iranian and Russian-backed teams, which attempted to break into election-related systems and were implicated in recent influence operations. weeks.
Last week, John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, identified Iran and Russia as two countries responsible for disinformation and some limited intrusions into voter registration databases.
He cited threatening emails, apparently from the far-right group the Proud Boys, which were sent to voters in Florida and elsewhere. But the emails relied on publicly available information; no hacking was necessary. And they were written in broken English – just like Trump’s destroyed website.
Last week, Mr. Trump said at a campaign rally in Tucson, Arizona: “No one is being hacked. To be hacked you need someone with 197 IQ and they need about 15% of your password. “
Julian E. Barnes, Adam Goldman and David E. Sanger contributed reporting.