Russian hackers 'target' presidential candidate Macron

"There are hundreds if not thousands of attacks on our computer system, our database and our sites, and by chance this happens to come from the Russian border", said Macron campaign manager Richard Ferrand, according to Politico.

On Tuesday, Trend Micro's researchers plan to release their report detailing cyberattacks in recent weeks against Macron's campaign - as well as members of Germany's Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung, a political foundation linked to Chancellor Angela Merkel's political party - in what appear to be the latest Russian effort to influence political outcomes in the West.

Trend Micro said it discovered the campaign by monitoring the creation of rogue, lookalike websites often used by hackers to trick victims into giving up their passwords.

Pawn Storm, known as APT28, is also believed to be behind attacks on US Democratic National Committee to undermine Hillary Clinton's presidential bid.

It is yet to be determined whether the potential traps have been successful in snaring any email accounts associated with the Macron campaign.

Guillaume Poupard, the head of France's digital security service, Anssi, told the Reuters news agency on Monday that it was too early to name Russian Federation as the culprit.

"Another credential phishing site was set up to target the parliament of Montenegro in October 2016 - this was likely the work of Pawn Storm as well", Trend Micro says in the report. USA and European intelligence agencies and US private security researchers determined that the group was responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee previous year.

USA officials, pundits and media analysts have yet to provide any credible evidence backing their claim that Russian Federation was responsible for the DNC hack.

The campaign's digital chief Mounir Mahjoubi says a series of sophisticated phishing operations have been thwarted over the past couple of months.

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Russia, or at least its state-controlled media, clearly favored Le Pen. That means there was talent behind it and time went into it: "talent, money, experience, time and will".

"It's serious, but nothing was compromised", he said.

"It is wrong to say that Russian Federation shows favouritism towards anyone among the candidates", he claimed, adding unprompted: "Russia has never interfered, doesn't interfere and will never interfere into electoral processes in other countries".

Emmanuel Macron, French presidential candidate, speaks to journalists in Bazainville, France, on April 18.

Macron and Le Pen were the top two finishers in the first round of voting on Sunday, moving on to the second-round run-off on May 7.

During the campaign, Russian media strongly attacked Macron, a former investment banker, accusing him of being a "fraud" and a tool of the US banking industry. Russian state media have returned the favor by openly supporting the French candidate.

But analysts said Putin would have good reason to favour conservative nationalist Le Pen over centrist Macron in the upcoming poll.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed allegations of any Russian interference in the French elections on Monday.


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