World

Russian Hackers Suspected Of Targeting French Candidate

| by Ray Brown

The unknown hackers believed to be from Russia accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee's email system are now accused of hacking the campaign of centrist French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron.

The security firm Trend Micro published a report in which they allege hacker groups known as Fancy Bear, APT 28 and Pawn Storm have infiltrated Macron's campaign computers using similar phishing schemes that tricked DNC members, leading to a slew of embarrassing emails getting published on WikiLeaks, and possibly to Hillary Clinton's unexpected loss in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

"Pawn Storm has been making these types of attacks for a long time -- we wrote our first report about them in 2014," said Ed Cabrera, chief cybersecurity officer at Trend Micro, according to The Hill.

Although these hacker groups are suspected of carrying out espionage for the Russian government, Trend Micro said they actually want to leave evidence so their work can be publicized.

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"Normal cybercriminals often don’t like media attention and even suspend their activities temporarily when their actions are discovered and written about," the report states. "Pawn Storm doesn’t slow down at all. On the contrary: a lot has been written about Pawn Storm since fall of 2014, and their activities have only grown, both in aggressiveness and number."

The Macron campaign has suspected Russia of hacking its computers since at least February.

"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. "We want a strong Europe. That’s why we are suffering from attacks from several information sites belonging to the Russian state."

Fancy Bear, APT 28 and Pawn Storm were suspected of hacking into the DNC servers after tech security firm CrowdStrike released a report making the accusations.

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Some have questioned CrowdStrike's reading of data in other reports, including a December 2016 report that claimed Russians hacked into a Ukrainian military app and caused weapons to be distributed to Russian-backed separatists, according to Voice of America, the U.S. government-owned news site.

But the Ukrainian military said a hack never happened and the International Institute for Strategic Studies, whose data CrowdStrike used for its findings, claimed the tech security firm misread its data.

"The CrowdStrike report uses our data, but the inferences and analysis drawn from that data belong solely to the report's authors," the IISS responded, according to Voice of America News. "The inference they make that reductions in Ukrainian D-30 artillery holdings between 2013 and 2016 were primarily the result of combat losses is not a conclusion that we have ever suggested ourselves, nor one we believe to be accurate."

Sources: The Hill, Politico, VOANews / Photo Credit: OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS/Flickr

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