Foreign hackers targeted presidential campaigns: US spy chief's office

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Intelligence chief: Campaign sites under attack

WASHINGTON, May 18 (Reuters) - U.S. presidential campaigns face threats from hackers bent on espionage and other activity more nefarious than political mischief, the office of the U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper said on Wednesday, but did not provide details on specific intrusions.

"We're aware that campaigns and related organizations and individuals are targeted by actors with a variety of motivations- from philosophical differences to espionage - and capabilities- from defacements to intrusions," Clapper's spokesman Brian Hale said in a statement, deferring to the FBI for details on specific incidents.

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Earlier, Clapper said the U.S. intelligence community had "already had some indications" of hacking attempts against presidential campaigns.

"As the campaign intensifies we'll probably have more" attacks, Clapper said at a morning event at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

The last two U.S. presidential cycles in 2008 and 2012 witnessed a barrage of cyber attacks from a range of adversaries targeting President Barack Obama's campaign and the campaigns of his Republican foes.

U.S. intelligence officials have said many of the previous assaults were linked to Chinesehackers.

Clapper said the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are working to educate "both campaigns" about cyber threats, likely referring to the campaigns of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Hotel properties belonging to Trump have been hacked two times since the billionaire real estate developer declared his candidacy last year. In both cases hackers breached the credit card systems used by Trump Hotel Collection.

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Foreign hackers targeted presidential campaigns: US spy chief's office
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19: A detail of the Ashley Madison website on August 19, 2015 in London, England. Hackers who stole customer information from the cheating site AshleyMadison.com dumped 9.7 gigabytes of data to the dark web on Tuesday fulfilling a threat to release sensitive information including account details, log-ins and credit card details, if Avid Life Media, the owner of the website didn't take Ashley Madison.com offline permanently. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
The Homeland Security Department headquarters in northwest Washington, Friday, June 5, 2015. China-based hackers are suspected once again of breaking into U.S. government computer networks, and the entire federal workforce could be at risk this time. The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that data from the Office of Personnel Management _ the human resources department for the federal government _ and the Interior Department had been compromised. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2015 file photo, the Anthem logo hangs at the health insurer's corporate headquarters in Indianapolis. Insurers aren't required to encrypt consumers' data under a 1990s federal law that remains the foundation for health care privacy in the Internet age _ a striking omission in light of the cyberattack against Anthem, the nation's second-largest health insurer. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
Sony Pictures Entertainment headquarters in Culver City, Calif. on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. The FBI has confirmed it is investigating a recent hacking attack at Sony Pictures Entertainment, which caused major internal computer problems at the film studio last week. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
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Shoppers arrive at a Target store in Los Angeles on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. Target says that about 40 million credit and debit card accounts may have been affected by a data breach that occurred just as the holiday shopping season shifted into high gear. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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Clinton has endured relentless scrutiny from Republicans accusing her of jeopardizing classified information by using a private email server during her tenure as U.S. secretary of state. Clinton and U.S. officials have said no evidence has emerged showing the server was hacked, however.

The Republican and Democratic candidates for president will begin receiving intelligence briefings after being officially nominated by their respective party at conventions this summer.

Clapper said the two candidates would receive "exactly the same" briefings. He said the sessions would not be used to try to persuade Trump to soften his stance about a proposed ban on Muslim immigration, which some national security professionals have said is counterproductive to fighting Islamic extremism.

"We've been doing this for many years, it's not designed to shape anybody's worldview," Clapper said.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by David Gregorio)

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