French presidential candidate Macron targeted by hackers, cyber firm says

Posted April 27, 2017

Commenting on the alleged hack attempt, Macron campaign digital chief Mounir Mahjoubi told French media that "the most important information is not sent by email".

Centrist, Emmanuel Macron is now holding a lead with 23.8% over the 21.5% held by far-right Marine Le Pen, a position thought to be crucial to maintain momentum to be victorious within the French election system.

Macron led the first round of the election with 23.7% of the vote.

A security firm claimed Tuesday that new cyberattacks on the campaign offices of the front-runner in France's presidential race carried digital "fingerprints" similar to the suspected Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and others in the 2016 USA election.

Macron's campaign confirmed to the Wall Street Journal on Monday that hackers have tried to steal campaign staff email passwords.

The French presidential race is not yet over.

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Last month, Le Pen met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Trend Micro claims to have uncovered four Web domain names that are suspiciously similar to those used by the Macron campaign.

Feike Hacquebord, a researcher with security firm Trend Micro said he had found evidence that the spy group, dubbed "Pawn Storm", targeted the Macron campaign with email phishing tricks and attempts to install malware on the campaign site.

The Macron campaign said on Wednesday it had carried out counter-offensive actions against the fake web sites, which were created to trick campaign workers into divulging their user credentials.

Trend Micro did not accuse any country of pulling the strings of Pawn Storm, a cyber espionage group.

Trend Micro said Pawn Storm frequently targets victims like political parties and candidates that are at odds with Russian geopolitical interests.

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In the wake of fresh technical analysis of APT28, a suspected Russian hacking group also known as Fancy Bear, Pawn Storm and Sofacy, the Kremlin has brushed off mounting allegations it engaged in election-tampering operations in France as "fake news".

French officials have tended to be more circumspect than their American counterparts, repeatedly declining to tie Pawn Storm to any specific source.

The Associated Press left several messages with the hacker or hackers who had registered the rogue Macron websites.

The report, by the Trend Micro research group, did not disclose the potential fallout of the infiltration on the campaign of Emmanuel Macron, a centrist who faces far-right leader Marine Le Pen in a May 7 runoff.

A group affiliated with Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) calling itself the Cyber Caliphate claimed responsibility for that attack, but French and United Kingdom media have since accused Russian intelligence of responsibility, though observers have been left scratching their heads as to what Russia would have to gain from the hack.

Many observers feared a repeat of the US electoral contest in 2016, when hackers allegedly backed by Moscow broke into the email inboxes of the Democratic National Committee and other political operatives.

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