“Russia is using all of its means to influence public opinion. It is not the same ideology as in the time of the USSR, [but] it is sometimes the same methods, with more technology. Russia has a strategy of influence, of networks, with very conservative moral views.”
French President Francois Hollande
President Francois Hollande is accusing Russia of trying to interfere in the campaign, ahead of the first round on 23 April and a run-off on 7 May. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today
Earlier this year, France’s primary intelligence agency warned the country’s government that Russia has launched a secret operation to try to influence the outcome of the upcoming French presidential election in favour of the far-right.
According to the Paris-based weekly newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné, France’s Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE) has notified the country’s leadership that a covert operation by the Kremlin is already underway, and is expected to intensify in the run-up to April’s election. The spy agency allegedly believes that Russian efforts aim to promote Marine Le Pen, leader of the ultra-right National Front.
In January, the DGSE — the French General Directorate for External Security — warned that Kremlin-funded hackers and cybersoldiers were trying to distort the presidential campaign.
According to the DGSE, the hackers’ actions are favoring the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, while discrediting her competitors, particularly the independent candidate Emmanuel Macron. (These two candidates are likely to face off each other in the second round of the election.)
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The alarm was raised at the highest level by French intelligence services and prompted two security meetings chaired by president Hollande at the Elysee palace.
At the council of defence in early March, Hollande ordered “the mobilisation of all the state’s necessary means” to prevent “any malevolent action” from “tarnishing the campaign and the vote”.
“Prime targets could be candidates’ websites and government networks.”
No electronic voting
Electronic voting is not planned for the presidential election.
Blast from the Past
During the previous presidential election (2012), the computers of several officials at president Nicolas Sarkozy’s office were hacked.
At a conference some months later, Bernard Barbier — the DGSE’s Technical Director — revealed that the American NSA was behind the attack.
RELATED POST: NSA Hacked French President’s House: Video Back Online
Warning from Germany
Earlier this year, Bruno Kahl — the President of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) which is the German equivalent of the DGSE– has warned that the next general German election could be targeted by Russian hackers.
“We have evidence that cyber-attacks are taking place that have no purpose other than to elicit political uncertainty,” he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung in his first interview since he was appointed.”
“The perpetrators are interested in delegitimising the democratic process as such, regardless of who that ends up helping. We have indications that [the attacks] come from the Russian region.”
However, German Intelligence Agencies have now conducted a year-long investigation searching for clear evidence of Russia’s political interference in Germany. They found ‘no conclusive evidence’.
France’s election under high cyber threat — EUObserver
FRANCE — DGSE: ‘Hackers trying to distort the presidential campaign’