Paris( AP) — Researchers with the Japanese anti-virus firm Trend Micro say the campaign of French presidential front-runner Emmanuel Macron has been targeted by Russia-linked hackers, adding a little more detail to previous suggestions that the centrist legislator was being singled out for electronic eavesdropping by the Kremlin.
The campaign& apos; s digital chief, Mounir Mahjoubi, confirmed the attempted intrusions in a telephone interview late Monday but said they had all been thwarted.
“It& apos; s serious, but nothing was compromised, ” he said.
The attempts to penetrate the Macron campaign date back to December, Mahjoubi told. The campaign previously complained of being targeted by electronic snooping operations that it hinted had their origins in Russia but offered little proof to back the affirm at the time. Trend Micro& apos; s report, which was produced independently of the Macron campaign and lists 160 tries at electronic espionage across a series of targets, adds a measure of proof to the claim, telling hackers set up a bogus website to harvest the passwords of Macron campaign staffers.
Mahjoubi confirmed that the bogus site was one of several emailed to campaign employees over the past few months.
Trend Micro attributed the online spying campaign to an extremely prolific group it calls Pawn Storm, which American spy agencies have in turn accused of acting as an limb of Russia& apos; s intelligence apparatus. TrendMicro itself stopped short of saying who was behind different groups, in line with common practice among security firms. French officials have also tended to be more circumspect than their American counterparts, repeatedly declining to tie Pawn Storm to any specific actor.
Russian government officials have repeatedly denied claims of state-sanctioned hacking.
The French election, the first round of which Macron won Sunday with just over 24 percent of the vote, has been closely watched for signs of digital interference of different kinds. Many observers dreaded a repeat of the U.S. electoral tournament in 2016, when hackers allegedly backed by Moscow transgressed into the email inboxes of the Democratic National Committee and other political operatives. Pilfered documents subsequently appeared on WikiLeaks and other more mysterious websites, putting the Democrat on the defensive during their lose campaign against Donald Trump.
Some feared that Macron, a centrist legislator facing off against several pro-Russia candidates, would suffer the same treatment. Nothing of the kind seems to have happened so far, but the second round of France& apos; s presidential contest pitting Macron against Kremlin-friendly far right leader Marine Le Pen is still two weeks away.
Read more: www.bloomberg.com