French Election Hacks Underline the Need for Cybersecurity

May 8, 2017 - 2 minutes read

When Dogtown Media was in Washington, D.C. a couple weeks ago for AppCon 2017, cybersecurity issues were one of the main topics of discussion. Along with our colleagues in ACT – The App Association, we are concerned with the use of encryption backdoors by law enforcement, the shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals, and the general ignorance about cybersecurity in industries vulnerable to attack. If Congress doesn’t seek to address these issues, it’s not just American businesses that are under threat — our national security will be in jeopardy. As any Android app developer up on current events will tell you, the threat of cyberwarfare is very real, and it’s growing.

The American public has become more aware of the issue of cybersecurity breaches over the last year, especially after Hillary Clinton’s campaign was hacked by the Russian government. Now it appears that Emmanuel Macron, the moderate candidate in France’s presidential race, has been hacked as well. Nine gigabytes of private campaign documents including financial reports and emails were leaked by an anonymous group on Friday, right before an “election pause” went into effect before Sunday’s voting. This campaigning hiatus, enforced by French law, left Macron mute in the face of what his campaign described as “real attempt to disrupt the French presidential election.” The French electoral commission demanded that the media not republish the leaks, but as app developers can imagine, they were spread like wildfire on social media by supporters of Macron’s opponent, Marine Le Pen.

Although the culprit behind the hack is not yet clear, betting London app developers would say that the safe money’s on Russia. Le Pen, a controversial far-right candidate, has a fan in Vladimir Putin, who seems bent on undermining democracy in the West as a means to seize more power on the world stage. Despite the efforts of these hackers, Macron ended up winning yesterday’s election, ensuring some stability in a Europe in flux. But without proper cybersecurity measures, this sort of last minute election interference may become a regular occurrence.

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