Hacking attacks blamed on a Russian cyber intelligence unit failed at disrupting the campaign of French President-elect Emmanuel Macron, claims an article in the New York Times.
Timely warning by the US National Security Agency (NSA) alerted Marcon's campaign team to the Russian threat, the article said quoting several US cyber-security experts and intelligence officials. The attack is reminiscent of claims of Russian attempts to disrupt the US presidential elections last year, it said.
Macron’s bare-bones technology team created dozens of false email accounts, complete with phony documents, to confuse the attackers, the report claims. But the Macron campaign team were well-prepared from the previous attack in December 2016 when Macron’s makeshift headquarters in the 15th Arrondissement began receiving phishing emails.
The phishing mails were “high quality,” said Mr. Macron’s digital director, Mounir Mahjoubi: They included the actual names of members of the campaign staff. Simultaneously with the phishing attacks, the Macron campaign was being attacked by the Russian media with a profusion of fake news.
In mid-March, researchers with Trend Micro, the cybersecurity giant based in Tokyo, watched the same Russian intelligence unit behind some of the Democratic National Committee hacks start building the tools to hack Mr. Macron’s campaign. They set up web domains mimicking those of Mr. Macron’s En Marche! Party, and began dispatching emails with malicious links and fake login pages designed to bait campaign staffers into divulging their usernames and passwords, or to click on a link that would give the Russians a toehold onto the campaign’s network.