Hackers vandalised US president Donald Trump’s election campaign website this week in an apparent effort to obtain Monero from website visitors.
According to an initial report from the New York Times, the website was defaced for around half an hour on Tuesday 27 October before the problem was rectified. New York Times cybersecurity reporter Nicole Prelroth shared a screenshot of the message that was posted on the site before it was taken down:
It’s understood that the incident was first noticed by another journalist, Gabriel Greschler, who had been conducting research for an article when he stumbled across the defaced website.
The post on the website was headed by FBI and Department of Justice insignia and stated that the website had been seized and that ‘the world has had enough of the fake-news spreaded daily by president donald j trump’.
The attackers claimed to have gained access to ‘multiple devices’ belonging to Trump and his relatives, garnering further access to ‘secret conversations’ and ‘classified information’. The attackers went as far as claiming that the information proved the Trump administration had some involvement in the origin of the Coronavirus.
The message also claimed that attackers had obtained evidence that suggests Trump has been involved in efforts to manipulate the looming US Presidential elections.
The hackers then posted a call to action which would allow users to send privacy-focused cryptocurrency Monero to different addresses. One address would be used a ‘Yes’ and the other ‘No’ response. The attackers claimed that they would make a decision to release the information they claim to have found depending on the amount of payments made to the accounts.
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh confirmed that the website had been defaced and that law enforcement authorities were investigating the source of the attack. The spokesman also refuted claims that classified information had been garnered through the attack:
“There was no exposure to sensitive data because none of it is actually stored on the site. The website has been restored,” Murtaugh said in a statement.
The overriding sentiment in various media reports is that the attack is just a scam in order to obtain funds that will be hard to trace given Monero’s privacy-ensuring mechanisms.