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Google says that it has prevented a series of “phishing attack” on tens of thousands of Iranian users, with the
hackers looking to influence the outcome of the upcoming Iranian elections.

In a blogpost, Eric Grosse, Google’s VP Security Engineering said:

For almost three weeks, we have detected and disrupted multiple email-based phishing campaigns aimed at compromising the accounts owned by tens of thousands of Iranian users. These campaigns, which originate from within Iran, represent a significant jump in the overall volume of phishing activity in the region. The timing and targeting of the campaigns suggest that the attacks are politically motivated in connection with the Iranian presidential election on Friday.

A “phishing attack” is where a hacker sends a user an email or message which looks to be from an authoritative source such as a bank or from the email company or ISP, which directs users to a page that looks legitimate and tricks them into entering their details – sometimes bank details, sometimes login information. In this case, the hackers were attempting to steal users’ GMail login details, to gain access to their email accounts.

Google claims that they detected phishing efforts from what appears to be the same Iranian group in 2011.

Iranians will go to the polls on Friday to elect a successor to president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who cannot run for a third term in office under the country’s constitution. Moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani has become the frontrunner in recent days after presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani threw their support behind him, and Mohammad Reza Aref pulled out of the race on Tuesday.

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