Democrats warned of targeting by hackers posing as Facebook

Democratic campaigns were warned Thursday that hackers posing as Facebook could be targeting them in an effort to gain access to their Facebook account credentials, according to a copy of a security alert obtained by CNN.

The Democratic National Committee’s security team detailed in the alert how emails designed to look like they are coming from Facebook tell victims their Facebook page has been unpublished because it violates Facebook’s terms.

“This means that you can still see the page, but other people won’t be able to see it,” the email reads. It then directs victims to a fake Facebook website where they are told they can appeal the page’s deactivation. This fake website asks for some login credentials and other personal information which could be valuable for a hacker.

This type of attempted cyberattack is known as phishing. It’s the method that was used by Russian hackers to access Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s Gmail account in 2016.

Speaking to CNN on Friday, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, said he was not familiar with the specific attempted attack the DNC warning referenced but that it was consistent with attempted phishing attacks generally.

Gleicher warned that campaign staff at all levels need to be vigilant as often hackers can target less prominent members of a campaign.

He said Facebook and other services are aware of sophisticated hacking groups targeting political campaigns and that Facebook offers additional security to campaign staff and government and elected officials through a program called Facebook Protect.

Facebook, he said, can detect unusual login behavior such as an account being accessed from a location or a device that is not normally associated with an account.

Thursday’s warning from the DNC came amid heightened concerns about social media hacks following a Twitter breach that saw former Vice President Joe Biden’s and former President Barack Obama’s accounts taken over two weeks ago.

Campaigns view Facebook as an essential part of reaching voters ahead of November’s election. In the past 30 days, more than $11 million has been spent on ads run by President Donald Trump’s Facebook page and more than $3 million on ads run on Biden’s page, according to Facebook.