Macron campaign targeted by Russia-linked hackers, experts say

Macron campaign targeted by Russia-linked hackers, experts say

According to Japanese antivirus firm Trend Micro, hackers linked to Russian Federation created fake websites in an attempt to steal passwords and online credentials from Macron staffers.

Macron, a centrist candidate, won the first round of the French Presidential election Sunday with 23.9 per cent of the vote.

And reports of Russia's unhappiness with Macron's first-round victory are "utterly erroneous allegations, and rather primitive", Peskov said.

The campaign of the French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has been targeted by what appears to be the same Russian operatives responsible for hacks of Democratic campaign officials before last year's USA presidential election, a cybersecurity firm has warned in a new report.

The Macron campaign's digital chief, Mounir Mahjoubi, confirmed the attempted intrusions late Monday but said they had all been thwarted.

"The phishing pages we are talking about are very personalized web pages to look like the real address", Mahjoubi said, according to the New York Times. Macron faces far-right rival Marine Le Pen in France's presidential runoff on May 7.

Hacquebord said a single registrant unrelated to Macron's campaign had set up the domain names onedrive-en-marche.fr, portal-office.fr, mail-en-march.fr and accounts-office.fr - all created to appear connected to his campaign or to the Microsoft cloud services it uses.

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Trend Micro gave the group the name Pawn Storm two years ago after a strategy in chess in which a player moves pawns in quick succession toward an opponent's defenses. She has explicitly identified herself with the Russian leader and President Trump, describing them as "new world" politicians, and Russia has supported her party with millions of Euros in funding.

It says Pawn Storm, also known under several other names, including Fancy Bear, is an "active and aggressive espionage actor group" which launched phishing campaigns against Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in April and May 2016 and set up phishing sites that targeted ministries of the Turkish government as well as the Turkish parliament in early 2016.

Russian officials have repeatedly denied charges of state-sanctioned hacking. On Tuesday, Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, dismissed the most recent coverage as "anonymous, unsubstantiated reports". In February, the campaign complained publicly of being targeted by Russia-linked electronic spying operations, although it offered no proof at the time.

According to the Trend Micro report, those servers have stayed active over the past three years an average of six months apiece with ten lasting for more than a year.

News of the GRU-suspected attack on Macron comes amid an anti-Macron campaign by Russian-state media, including its French-language outlets RT France and Sputnik France.

Many observers feared a repeat of the USA 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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