French presidential election leak (2017)

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Date Discovered on 5 May 2017[1]
Suspected actor Hacker group “APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) 28”, also referred to as “Fancy Bear”, linked with the Russian GRU according to US intelligence.[2] The US National Security Agency’s director, M. Rogers, suggested in a hearing at the US Senate’s Armed Forces Committee that at least some of the electoral interference can, by evidence, be blamed on Russia.[3]
Victims The French En Marche political party and its head, E. Macron[4]
Target systems ICT systems used by the En Marche political party’s staff members
Method Around 9GB of data consisting of emails, accounting documents and contracts were leaked from hacked personal and professional accounts of the En Marche political party’s staff members and published on social media as #MacronLeaks and posted on the document-sharing site Pastebin.[5] It is estimated that the data breach occurred through a series of spear-phishing attacks: i.e. “creating fake login pages targeted at individuals in an attempt to encourage them to enter their usernames and passwords, giving the hackers access to confidential information”.[6]
Purpose As false documents were added to genuine stolen documents and leaked, the purpose could have been to influence the outcome of the French presidential election by influencing public opinion and harm the reputation of the En Marche political movement. At the time when the documents were leaked, the En Marche’s presidential candidate, E. Macron, was ahead in the opinion polls with a prognosis that he would win the election with a share of 62-63% of votes.[7]
Result Despite the leaks, E. Macron won the French presidential election against M. Le Pen (Front National) by a 66% to a 34% margin.[6]
Aftermath The French presidential election hack added salt to the wound of increased interferences by non-state actors and foreign States into national electoral processes.
Analysed in Scenario 01: Election interference

Collected by: Mihkel Pikkat