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French authorities warn political parties of the threat of cyber attacks

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January 16, 2017

We just learned that French authorities are warning all political parties about the increased threat of cyber attacks, as France prepares to elect a new president in May 2017.

Last year's presidential election in the United States was almost obliterated by numerous cyber attacks and multiple leaks to the press and media.

American intelligence agencies are now blaming Russia for the hacking and subsequent leak of sensitive emails from Hillary Clinton and other information from the Democratic National Committee.

French authorities fear that the possibility of similar interference in France is a strong possibility.

The National Agency for the Security of Information Systems (ANSSI) director Guillaume Poupard said: "We're clearly not up against people who are throwing punches just to see what happens. There's a real strategy that includes cyber attacks, interference and leaked information. These are people whom we're obviously following very closely. Even if we can't be sure that they're the same, they're attackers who regularly come knocking on our ministers' doors."

He asserted: "Political parties and campaign staff are particularly vulnerable to hackers with tactics likely to include spear phishing, website hacking and various attacks. Fundamentally, political parties, like small and medium-size businesses are not equipped to deal with the situation alone."

A spokesman for independent candidate and former economy minister Emmanuel Macron's political movement (En Marche) admitted that an attack on its website in October look like "at least one full night of work to repair and start all over".

On any given day, ANSSI is teaching various political parties how to protect themselves as well as referring them to a list of pre-approved companies for additional advice and more in-depth data.

For example, Ilia Kolochenko, chief executive of internet security firm High-Tech Bridge, commented-- "As a whole, Cybersecurity awareness, additional security assessment and hardening of the critical national infrastructure is definitely a move in the right direction.

"We should all be aware of the various risks associated with modern technologies, such as eVoting and mobile voting, especially the inherent risks related to such an important process as a presidential election of a major country."

The Russian state-sponsored hacking crew blamed for the DNC hack as well as previous assaults on NATO, the World Anti-Doping Agency (among others) was published by FireEye last week. It is also suspected by other security firms to be a unit of Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU.

Source: ANSSI.

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