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Macron Campaign Team Targeted by Hacking Attack

Emmanuel Macron campaign posters for the 2017 french presidential election.
Macron campaign team claims hackers were responsible for a massive email data leak two days before the election, though it did not affect the outcome.

The team of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron claims that it has been the victim of huge hacking operations.

The campaign staff says the attacks were targeted at them, but the leaks have not affected the election outcome, as Macron won the presidency.

Massive Hacking

Macron’s election campaign staff stated the hacking could destabilize the democracy of the country at a time when it was poised for the most important elections.

Many of Macron’s supporters were initially wary of the hacking reports, as they felt that the results could be devastating, especially as it happened on the eve of the presidential voting.

The hacking immediately lit up the social media in the United States, but did not receive much response in France.

The documents were revealed at the last moment and journalists did not have the time to view them in time before the ban came into effect.

The regulatory body of the government had also issued a warning not to publish fake news. According to the campaign team of Macron, some false documents had been mixed with legitimate ones in the data leak of the hacking.

Emails Released

The cyber attack involved the dumping of several documents related to the campaign such as emails, accounting records and so on.

Information subject to the hacking attack was revealed a few hours before campaign communications were legally prohibited.

Thousands of internal emails had been posted online, after the deadline for halting campaigning had passed.

Mounir Mahjoubi, a member of Macron’s digital team, states that around five mailboxes were unlocked in the hacking and many contained personal accounts.

Mahjoubi has tried to play down the significance of the release, stating that there were no secrets in the emails and one could only find jokes, invoices and details of events organized—all part of a routine campaign.

However, he claimed that some false or fake emails have been added in the archives.

Timing Tricky

Political flyers and booklets supporting the candidacy of Emmanuel Macron for the second round of the 2017 french presidential election.
The team of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron claims that it has been the victim of huge hacking operations.

The leak is not very significant, but the timing is tricky. This is because it is very difficult for Macron to solve the resulting damages before the election takes place.

Macron faces Marine Le Pen, the far right presidential candidate who promised to remove France from the euro and enable it to leave the European Union.

However according to Macron’s campaign team, the leaked emails don’t contain any secrets.

Russian Affiliation

According to investigations by security firms, the leaks and massive hacking attacks can be connected with Russian groups.

The groups affiliated to Russia have been blamed for the hacking attack on Macron’s Democratic Party.

These groups are also believed to have played their part during the presidential election in the U.S. last year by hacking and gaining control of sensitive information.

Intelligence from Flashpoint of New York and Trend Micro of Tokyo claim that the hacking team goes by the name of Advanced Persistent Threat 28, or Fancy Bear or Pawn Storm, and they are responsible for the attack.

This group has links with GRU, which is a military intelligence group of Russia.

Spear Phishing Hacking

The Advanced Persistent Threat or APT 28 possesses excellent technical capabilities, but their usual attack is a simple one termed spear phishing.

They create false login pages that target individuals and encourage them in entering the username and password, enabling them to access secret information.

The process is repeated and the secret information thus obtained is used for creating more phishing pages till the cyber attack is completed and a significant amount of data leak is achieved.

As a part of its technique, APT 28 has to get the ability to control the web address and fool the victim into thinking that he or she was entering a legitimate site.

Last month, the APT 28, had registered some internet addresses similar to those in the Macron campaign, namely En Marche.

It has obviously used these to send the emails for hacking into the computers of the campaign team.

The domains are created to disguise official Microsoft addresses, posing as real email sites.

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