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

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.

See more notable data breaches:

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Notable data breaches in the US
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Foreign hackers targeted presidential campaigns: US spy chief's office
Credit reporting company Equifax Inc. corporate offices are pictured in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Tami Chappell
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)
Katherine Archuleta, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), speaks during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the OPM data breach in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. U.S. senators said yesterday they doubt the government's personnel office understands the breadth of a computer hack that exposed the records of more than 4 million federal workers, or that the agency can stop another breach. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 05: The entrance to the Theodore Roosevelt Federal Building that houses the Office of Personnel Management headquarters is shown June 5, 2015 in Washington, DC. U.S. investigators have said that at least four million current and former federal employees might have had their personal information stolen by Chinese hackers. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
SCHAUMBURG, IL - AUGUST 04: A statue of a horse stands at the entrance to a P.F. Chang's restaurant on August 4, 2014 in Schaumburg, Illinois. P.F. Chang's China Bistro Ltd. said today that the company experienced a data breach involving customers' credit and debit card information which affected 33 restaurants in 16 states, including the Schaumburg, Illinois location. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, ME - AUGUST 15: Shaws on Congress Street on Friday, July 15, 2014. Shaws parent company is investigating a possible data breach. (Photo by Logan Werlinger/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
COLMA, CA - APRIL 18: Customers enter a Michaels art and crafts store on April 18, 2014 in Colma, California. Michaels, the largest arts and crafts chain in the U.S., announced that an estimated 2.6 million cards used at its stores across the country may have been affected by a security breach. Aaron Brothers, a subsidiary of Michaels, was also affected by the breach. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CORAL GABLES, FL - FEBRUARY 28: A checkout keypad is seen at a Sears store on February 28, 2014 in Coral Gables, Florida. According to reports the U.S. Secret Service is investigating a possible digital attack at Sears Holdings Corp. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A couple of shoppers leave a Target store on a rainy afternoon in Alhambra, California on December19, 2013, as the US retail giant said some 40 million customers may have had bank card data compromised by hackers who broke into its database as holiday shopping got underway. Target said there had been 'unauthorized access' to its payment system in US stores affecting credit and debit cards with approximately 40 million credit and debit cards possibly affected by the breach between November 27 and December 15, the company said in a statement. AFP PHOTO / Frederic J. Brown (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
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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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