Around nine gigabytes of data was released on Friday night, a few minutes before campaign blackout started. The candidate’s team made an announcement before the campaign ended, stating that all the files are lawful, yet some false documents were mixed with the original ones in order to mislead the electorate and raise the doubts.
The files that were leaked on Friday, are said to be obtained several weeks ago. Nor officials, neither candidates can legally comment on the leak after the campaign was closed at midnight.
TV channels reports that exchanging public statements about candidates would expose to a fine of 3500 to 75.000 euros.
Previous cyber attacks, about 160 of them, were performed on the resources of this candidate’s campaign on April 24, 2017.
According to media and security experts, April attacks were conducted by Cyber espionage group, called “Pawn Storm”, that might be associated with Russian military intelligence agency GRU.
In April 2017, Feike Hacquebord, a researcher of Japanese security firm Trend Micro, said that there is an evidence that the attacks were performed by cyber espionage group, called “Pawn Storm”, also known as APT 28, Fancy Bear, Sofancy and Strontium.
The group used phishing emails in order to install malware.They also registered a number of decoy Internet addresses with the purpose to collect the passwords of the members of the first circle of A candidate campaign.
Although Russia denied any involvement in the attacks, several security experts and firms clearly linked the attacks with Russia.
Security experts also noted that “Pawn Storm” group is known to be previously involved in multiple cases of stealing emails and files, and making them public in order to influence the elections. In April 2017, after the attacks, a number of experts also mentioned that quite often “pawn storm” group let’s the time pass before leaking stolen files.
Taking in attention, that the previous attack was conducted on April 24, 2017, and the files leaked on Friday date up to April 24, 2017 again, this looks very much like a classic procedure of “Pawn storm“.
The same cyber espionage group is also believed to be connected with the attacks on Hilary Clinton campaign last year. In a report that was made public in January 2017, the U.S. intelligence blamed Kremlin in cyber attack and in an attempt to influence the outcome of presidential elections in Trump’s favor.
Hillary Clinton herself declared that the leaked emails in the final weeks of the campaign could greatly influence her loss at the elections in November 2016.
According to media, Russia started anti French candidate campaign as early as February 2017. At that time, General secretary of a candidate already accused Russia for hacking attacks and an attempt to influence the results and the outcome of French presidential elections and accused pro-Kremlin media of mounting a “smear campagn”.
After live debates on Wednesday, Candidate’s team announced that he filed a legal complaint over “the spreading of false information” in order to influence the result of the election. During the debate, A candidate wish that his opponent doesn’t have an account in the Bahamas and The next morning admitted Lack of evidence.
Team of a candidate stated that this “fake news” were spread in social media by accounts close to pro-Kremlin news sites like Sputnik and RT.
On Friday, two media organizations Sputnik and RT announced that they are planning to file a lawsuit against French candidate over his accusations that they are spreading “fake news”.
Russian media is known for producing a lot of content in support of One candidate for months, while some tabloids, like Komsomolskaya Pravda, allowed very disrespectful headlines about His opponent, like the following: “Rothschild puppet, a psychopath, or a “Mr Nobody”.
Despite all the agressive attack it is unlikely that the leaks can influence the outcome of the elections.
In this case, the choice of date to make the leaked files public is obviously deliberately chosen, though quite strange, considering the files were leaked a few minutes before the closing of campaign and they cannot influence campaign in any way.
What was it then? A desperate attempt to influence the elections once Russia realized that the candidate they favor has already lost? Or a part of another strategy, for example, using those leaked documents in order to contest or undermine the presidency after the elections, or giving the legal grounds to the opposition to ask for the cancellation of elections as an attempt to cause institutional instability in France?