The US watched Russians hack France’s computer networks during the presidential election – and tipped off French officials before it became public, a US cyber official has told the Senate. France’s election campaign commission said on Saturday that “a significant amount of data” — and some fake information — was leaked on social networks following a hacking attack on Emmanuel Macron’s successful presidential campaign. France’s cybersecurity agency is investigating what a government official described as a “very serious” breach.
Articles about voting issues in the French Republic.
Two days before France’s recent presidential election, hackers leaked nine gigabytes of emails from candidate Emmanuel Macron’s campaign onto the web. Since then, the Kremlin has once again emerged as the likeliest culprit. But while public evidence can’t definitively prove Russia’s involvement, NSA director Michael Rogers suggested to Congress today that America’s most powerful cybersecurity agency has pinned at least some electoral interference on Moscow. In a hearing of the Senate’s Armed Forces Committee, Rogers indicated that the NSA had warned French cybersecurity officials ahead of the country’s presidential runoff that Russian hackers had compromised some elements of the election. For skeptics, that statement may help tip the balance towards credibly blaming Russia for the attacks.
Late on May 5 as the two final candidates for the French presidency were about to enter a press blackout in advance of the May 7 election, nine gigabytes of data allegedly from the campaign of Emmanuel Macron were posted on the Internet in torrents and archives. The files, which were initially distributed via links posted on 4Chan and then by WikiLeaks, had forensic metadata suggesting that Russians were behind the breach—and that a Russian government contract employee may have falsified some of the dumped documents. Even WikiLeaks, which initially publicized the breach and defended its integrity on the organization’s Twitter account, has since acknowledged that some of the metadata pointed directly to a Russian company with ties to the government.
French citizens have elected the centrist Emmanuel Macron as president, despite an unwelcome last-minute leak of his campaign’s documents over the Internet. Late Friday evening, Macron found thousands of files and e-mails relating to his campaign, totaling at least nine gigabytes, shared online. Just ahead of the country’s midnight campaigning cutoff, Macron’s En Marche! team had time to alert the public to the fact that the document dump was the result of a hack, and took the opportunity to implore media organizations to report on the news responsibly. As CNBC points out, French law bans the media from covering the election in the run-up to voting, which means that domestic publications had little chance to run the story. That didn’t stop bots on Twitter, though, which appear to have been widely circulating links during the weekend.
The mass document dump looks likely to become an inevitable part of modern elections. After the hacking of the Democratic party in the 2016 US election and the dumping of embarrassing emails through WikiLeaks, French and German governments have been braced for similar attacks during their own elections. And the onslaught has duly arrived. On Friday night, tens of thousands of internal emails and other documents from the campaign of the French presidential frontrunner, Emmanuel Macron, were released online. Gerard Araud, the French ambassador to Washington who witnessed the assault on the Hillary Clinton campaign during the 2016 US presidential election, responded to the Macron attack with weary resignation.
Leading French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s campaign said on Friday it had been the target of a “massive” computer hack that dumped its campaign emails online 1-1/2 days before voters choose between the centrist and his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen. Macron, who is seen as the frontrunner in an election billed as the most important in France in decades, extended his lead over Le Pen in polls on Friday. As much as 9 gigabytes of data were posted on a profile called EMLEAKS to Pastebin, a site that allows anonymous document sharing. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for posting the data or if any of it was genuine.
France: U.S. far-right activists, WikiLeaks and bots help amplify Macron leaks: researchers | Reuters
U.S. far-right activists helped amplify a leak of hacked emails belonging to leading French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s campaign, some researchers said on Saturday, with automated bots and the Twitter account of WikiLeaks also propelling a leak that came two days before France’s presidential vote. The rapid spread on Twitter (TWTR.N), Facebook (FB.O) and the messaging forum 4chan of emails and other campaign documents that Macron’s campaign said on Friday had been stolen recalled the effort by right-wing activists and Russian state media to promote hacked documents embarrassing to Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton last year. It also renewed questions whether social media companies have done enough to limit fake accounts or spammed content on their platforms and how media organizations should report on hacked information.
France: France starts probing ‘massive’ hack of emails and documents reported by Macron campaign | The Washington Post
The French campaign watchdog on Saturday began investigating the “massive and coordinated piracy action” that presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron reported just minutes before the official end of campaigning in the most heated election for the presidency that France has seen in decades. Late Friday, the Macron campaign said in a statement that it had been the victim of a major hacking operation that saw thousands of emails and other internal communications dumped into the public domain. At the end of a high-stakes race, the news quickly stoked fears of a targeted operation meant to destabilize the electoral process, especially after reports of Russian hacking in the U.S. presidential election.
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron suffered a “massive, co-ordinated hacking” effort Friday night less than 48 hours before the election—an attack that drew immediate parallels to the cyberattacks that hit Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign last year, as well as to alleged electoral interference in other parts of Europe. Macron’s campaign announced Friday that tens of thousands of its internal emails and documents were leaked to the public via a file-sharing website. The parallels to the 2016 U.S. election are striking: Both occurred days before an election. Both were carried out by hacking the personal and professional email accounts of campaign staffers. And both were directed at more establishment-friendly candidates—not their conservative opponents. While the perpetrators of the Macron hack haven’t been identified, numerous intelligence agencies have expressed confidence that Russia was behind the hacking of Clinton’s emails during the 2016 U.S. election. Russia is also said to have targeted the French electoral process, as well as elections in other counties where the leading candidates have been critical of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.
France: Official probe launched as Marine Le Pen is accused of deploying ‘fake news’ against Macron | The Independent
Marine Le Pen has been accused of using “fake news” during a head-to-head debate with Emmanuel Macron days before the final vote of France’s presidential election, after she alluded to allegations circulating online that her rival has an offshore account in the Bahamas. Mr Macron filed a legal complaint on Thursday, prompting the Paris prosecutor’s office to open a formal investigation into whether falsified documents and false online news were being used to influence voting ahead of Sunday’s second round ballot. The Front National candidate, who has been urged by her father and predecessor as party leader to adopt a “Trump-style” campaign, asked Mr Macron if the online rumours about his personal finances were true during a virulent exchange watched by 15 million people.