Hackers target French presidential candidate just before election

equifax hack
Dmitry Tishchenko/123RF
Just two days prior to the presidential election in France, approximately nine gigabytes of hacked data related to centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron was published on Pastebin earlier today. In addition to email correspondence from professional and personal accounts, and financial documents, the anonymous user that dumped the data mixed in a collection of fake documents, possibly in an attempt to confuse voters prior to the election.

Releasing a statement about the hack, a representative for Macron’s political movement En Marche! said “The En Marche! Movement has been the victim of a massive and coordinated hack this evening which has given rise to the diffusion on social media of various internal information. The seriousness of this event is certain and we shall not tolerate that the vital interests of democracy be put at risk.”

The leaked data appeared online late Friday night, specifically after the cutoff time which French candidates are barred from continued campaigning. Different from the United States, that ban continues until polls close on late Sunday evening.

The French presidential election commission announced that the media should be wary of publishing specific details about the hacked emails. The agency warned that publishing the information could potentially lead to criminal charges. The group is expected to meet on Saturday to further discuss the hacked data.

While the email hack is suspiciously similar to hacking activities that occurred during the U.S. presidential election, the impact of the email release is unlikely to alter the course of the French election due to the short time period left before the day when votes are to be cast. At this time, Macron is holding a sizable lead over far-right challenger Marine Le Pen. Recent polling indicates that Macron is leading Le Pen by more than 25 points, specifically attracting 63 percent of the vote over Le Pen’s 37 percent.

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