French authorities are on high alert to head off a cyber-attack that could affect the result of the upcoming presidential election.
Prime targets could be candidates’ websites and government networks. The threat was publicly recognised by president Francois Hollande, who accused Russia of trying to interfere in the campaign, ahead of the first round on 23 April and a run-off on 7 May. “Russia is using all of its means to influence public opinion,” he said in a recent interview to several European newspapers. “It is not the same ideology as in the time of the USSR, [but] it is sometimes the same methods, with more technology,” he said, adding that Russia had “a strategy of influence, of networks, with very conservative moral views”. … In early March, the government decided to ban electronic voting in June’s legislative elections for French voters abroad. Electronic voting was not planned for the presidential election itself.
Guillaume Poupard, Anssi’s chief, publicly said that the current voting platform is “more reliable” than the previous 2012 election, but “the level of threat is much higher today”.
But other experts have told EUobserver that in addition to the hacking threat, the system is unreliable, with voters unable to connect during preliminary tests.
Hacking threats during a French election are not new. In 2012, during the previous presidential election, the computers of several officials at president Nicolas Sarkozy’s office were hacked. At a conference some months later, the DGSE’s technical manager revealed where the attack came from – the US.