Today, the final run-off election to determine France’s next president will take place. Center-left candidate Emmanuel Macron will face off against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. The day before, the country was rocked by a massive hacking attack on Macron’s campaign.
“France's election campaign commission said Saturday ‘a significant amount of data’ — and some fake information — has been leaked on social networks,” reported the Associated Press’ Philippe Sotto, John Leicester and Raphael Satter. “It urged citizens not to relay the data on social media to protect the integrity of the French vote.”
Does any of this sound familiar? If you paid even the slightest bit of attention to our latest presidential election, it should ring some bells. (Remember last year’s email hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta?)
Though it isn’t yet clear who is responsible, French officials are taking the threat extremely seriously.
“The Macron team asked the campaign oversight commission Saturday to bring in cybersecurity agency ANSSI to study the hack, according to a government official. … ANSSI can only be called in for cases where the cyberattack is 'massive and sophisticated' — and the Macron hack appears to fit the bill, the official said,” reported the AP. “Someone on 4chan — a site known, among other things, for cruel hoaxes and political extremism — posted links to a large set of data Friday night.”
This cyber tampering with free and fair elections in the western world isn’t the first, nor will it be the last.
“The head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency accused Russian rivals of gathering large amounts of political data in cyber attacks and said it was up to the Kremlin to decide whether it wanted to put it to use ahead of Germany's September elections,” reported Reuters’ Andrea Shalal. “Moscow denies it has in any way been involved in cyber attacks on the German political establishment. Hans-Georg Maassen, president of the BfV agency, said 'large amounts of data' were seized during a May 2015 cyber attack on the Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, which has previously been blamed on APT28, a Russian hacking group.”
Color us not shocked if it turns out Russian hackers were behind the French attack. Whatever the case, these online attacks aren’t just targeted at the candidates themselves, but the idea of democracy itself. In the 21st century we must realize this is the new way wars will be fought. We must remain vigilant or we will all further suffer the consequences.