Published: Thu, April 27, 2017
National | By Traci Kelley

French presidential candidate Macron targeted by hackers, cyber firm says

French presidential candidate Macron targeted by hackers, cyber firm says

Russia-linked hackers targeted the French presidential campaign of front-runner Emmanuel Macron, according to an anti-virus firm. Macron, a centrist who advocates a strong pro-EU stance to combat meddling from Moscow, has accused Russian Federation of intervening in France's elections in the past.

Hackers working for the Russian government sent a barrage of targeted phishing emails between 2014 and 2016 to employees of major news outlets, and they focused particularly on Al Jazeera in the days before and shortly following the US presidential election, according to new research by cybersecurity firm Trend Micro.

The Macron campaign's digital chief, Mounir Mahjoubi, confirmed the attempted intrusions late Monday but said they had all been thwarted. "If you are speed reading as you sign on, and everybody speed reads online, it's something you might not notice", Mahjoubi said.

(AP Photo/Francois Mori). French far right leader and presidential candidate Marine le Pen, right, adjusts her hair during a ceremony for slain police officer Xavier Jugele, in the courtyard of the Paris Police headquarters, Tuesday, April 25, 2017. Fr.

Macron and Le Pen were the top two finishers in the first round of voting on Sunday, moving on to the second-round run-off on May 7.

Earlier this year, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Russia's Izvestia newspaper that there may be evidence in Hillary Clinton's leaked emails that Macron had engaged in shady correspondence with the former secretary of state, traveling to the USA before announcing his campaign.

Hacquebord said the Pawn Storm group set up four fake email phishing accounts to mount attacks against Macron's "En Marche!", or "Onwards", using a fake server located at onedrive-en-marche.fr and similar site names in March and April.

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According to the French edition of 20 Minutes, the hackers targeting Macron's En Marche! The broadcaster TV5 Monde was hacked in 2015, and researchers at cybersecurity firm FireEye said Russian-backed hackers carried out the attack.

Those websites were registered to a block of Web addresses that Trend Micro's researchers say belong to the Russian intelligence unit they refer to as Pawn Storm, but is alternatively known by the name Fancy Bear, APT 28 or the Sofacy Group.

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

Russian citizens "are also targeted by Pawn Storm", the paper claimed, adding that "journalists, software developers, politicians, researchers at universities, and artists" fell prey to hackers.

However, the Kremlin dismissed the report.

Although these hacker groups are suspected of carrying out espionage for the Russian government, Trend Micro said they actually want to leave evidence so their work can be publicized.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied accusations that Moscow had meddled in either the French or German elections, telling Russian news agencies Monday, "I repeat once again: Russia has never interfered, isn't interfering and will never interfere in the electoral processes of other countries".

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