Did the US hack the French government’s offices?

did the us hack french governments offices elyseeA French news magazine has reported that computers in the offices of the French President were attacked by a malware created by the US to collect information – meaning, essentially, that the US has attempted to hack into the French government’s IT systems. The US, unsurprisingly, denies any such attack on their behalf, and the French government is staying surprisingly quiet on the matter. What, exactly, is going on?

The initial report came from the French newspaper L’Express yesterday, which published a story that said that, between April 22 and May 6 this year, the offices of then-President Nicolas Sarkozy had been attacked by Flame, a malware in part developed by the US (in combination with Israel) to collect information about the Iranian nuclear program. According to the report, the attack was covered up by French authorities, but was partially successful, with “secret notes recovered from hard drives, and also strategic plans” taken from computers belonging to Sarkozy staff, including his Secretary-General Xavier Musca. “Hackers have not only managed to get to the heart of French political power,” the newspaper breathlessly reported, “but they were able to search the computers of close advisers of Nicolas Sarkozy.”

(Oddly enough, the dates given for the attacks correlate to the dates of the most recent French Presidential elections; April 22 was the first round of voting, and May 6 was the date for a run-off election that put Sarkozy out of power, replaced by Francois Hollande.)

American officials quickly denied any part in the attacks, with the Department of Homeland Security’s Matthew Chandler stating in an email to Information Week that the department “categorically [denies] the allegations by unnamed sources that the U.S. government participated in a cyber attack against the French government,” and adding that “France is one of our strongest allies. Our outstanding cooperation in intelligence sharing, law enforcement and cyber defense has never been stronger, and remains essential in successfully combating the common threat of extremism.”

The French Government has so far not commented officially on whether or not there is any basis in truth to the L’Express report, although as Ars Technica points out, it has previously confirmed that the offices in the Elysee Palace were targeted by not one, but two cyber-attacks in May although it hadn’t released any further information about either attack. Information Week is a little more suspect, however, noting that the initial Kaspersky Lab report into Flame in late May didn’t mention any attack against a target in France when it listed nations that had been hit by the malware. Add to that, the simple question of… why would the US hack Nicolas Sarkozy’s computers? What information was likely to have been stored in them that was worth such a high-profile hack? Consider this curiosity an unsolved mystery that will continue to tease for years to come, most likely…


Amazon takes $300 off Intel Core i7 Surface Pro 6 in latest sale

If you're looking for savings on the Surface Pro 6, Amazon is the place to shop. It currently is discounting the Intel Core i7 variant of Microsoft's latest 2-in-1 by $300, though no Type Cover is included.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

How to use the ECG app, set up irregular rhythm notifications on the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the best smartwatch iPhone owners can own, and it just got even better with the addition of the ECG app and ability to identify irregular heart rhythms. Here's how to set it all up.

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.

5G: Why everything is about to change

Curious about the many ways 5G will change and enrich your life? Here’s our guide to all things 5G.

Firefox 64 helps keep your numerous tabs under control

Mozilla officially launched Firefox 64 by placing new features into the laps of its users including new tab management abilities, intelligent suggestions, and a task manager for keeping Firefox's power consumption under control.

PewDiePie supporters hack printers, hope to boost his subscription numbers

In an attempt to garner more subscribers for their favorite vlogger and secure his status as having the most YouTube subscribers, PewDiePie supporters claimed to have hacked thousands of printers worldwide.

Email take-backsies! Gmail's unsend feature is one of its best

Everyone has sent a message they wish they could take back. How great would it be if you could undo that impulsive email? If you're a Gmail user, you can. Here's how to recall an email in Gmail.

Costco members can cut up to $200 off MacBook and iMac price tags

Costco is discounting MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops by as much as $200 as part of a members-only sale. It also has deals on select MacBooks and iMacs, with optional Apple Care in most instances.

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.

Our favorite Chrome themes add some much-needed pizzazz to your boring browser

Sometimes you just want Chrome to show a little personality and ditch the grayscale for something a little more lively. Lucky for you, we've sorted through the Chrome Web Store to find best Chrome themes available.

Chrome fights manipulative sites that don’t allow you to hit the back button

Have you encountered a webpage that won't let you hit the back button? Someun scrupulous websites employ what's known as history manipulation, preventing you from hitting the back button, but now Google Chrome will be fighting back.
Smart Home

Holiday shopping: Here are the final dates for Amazon’s free shipping promotion

If you're shopping with Amazon this holiday season, then time is fast running out if you want all of your gifts delivered before December 25. Here are the dates you need to know ...

Google to expand New York City presence with $1 billion campus

Google is following in Amazon's footsteps with plans to expand its presence in New York City. The company announced on Monday, December 17 that it's investing $1 billion on three sites in Lower Manhattan for more than 7,000 workers.