US 'used malware and Facebook' to hack French president's team

US 'used malware and Facebook' to hack French president's team

Summary: The staff of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy fell victim to a hack attack while he was still in office, and the finger of blame is being pointed at the US.

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TOPICS: Security, Government, EU
17

Advisors to ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy suffered a hack earlier this year. But rather than a hostile state, the perpetrators of the hack were apparently from one of France's allies — the US.

nicholas-sarkozy-downing-street
Advisers to former French president Nicolas Sarkozy were reportedly hacked. Image: Downing Street/Flickr

According to French magazine L'Express, the hack took place during the second round of the French presidential election — the election that then-incumbent Sarkozy would lose to current president François Hollande.

The hackers that hit Sarkozy's team used both malware and social engineering techniques to get access to "secret notes" and "strategic plans", L'Express said on Tuesday.

"It's the work of a real pro, and worthy of the last James Bond film. And, as is often the case with this type of attack, human negligence was at the heart of the catastrophe," it added.

Posing as a friend of someone who worked for the president's office (known as l'Elysée) on Facebook, the hackers succeeded in getting the worker to click on a link that took them to a fake Elysée webpage, where they entered their real login and password details.

The hackers were then able to get into the real Elysée network, from where they spread a worm bearing a resemblance to the Flame malware — thought to have been created by the US and Israeli governments. The worm was able to get them into the systems of Sarkozy's advisors and extract sensitive information, the magazine reports.

While only a few computers were affected, they were machines belonging to some of the most influential individuals in Sarkozy's inner circle, including the French secretary general. Sarkozy himself, however, escaped — as he didn't have a PC.

France's 'cyberdetectives' were put to work tracking down the assailants. According to information given by various sources to L'Express, the body of evidence pointed to one of France's oldest allies — the US.

But why? According to an anonymous source, Uncle Sam wanted to check that France was still on its side.

"You can be on very good terms with a 'friendly country' and at the same time want to be assured of its unwavering support, particularly during a period of political change," the source told L'Express.

The US embassy has denied the allegations.

Topics: Security, Government, EU

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17 comments
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  • As the Clintons would tell you...

    keep your documents in a safe, and the shredder well oiled!
    Tony Burzio
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  • Arthur Anderson, surely?

    You know, Bush's buds?
    HypnoToad72
  • And the French thought....

    that Obama was their friend! (Welcome to Chicago style politics France!)
    Hemo2
  • Liberty is dead

    Hail the USA
    kethler
  • Tacky

    France, kudos for having the brains to pass on the Iraq war.

    P.S. I LOVE french fries.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • and...

      I would assume you would like to thank France for passing on WWII as well. But hey, they made up for it by dragging us into Vietnam, their colony which they exploited.
      Rann Xeroxx
      • You must be an Israeli apologist as well

        One wonders how the colonists would have fared in their war of independence against Britain had the French not provided support. Were you aware that Benjamin Franklin was in France during this time period? What do you suppose that he was up to?

        As for Vietnam, 1) look up the Gulf on Tonkin Resolution (which was later repealed as it was based on lies - sound familiar?), and 2) why on earth didn't people protesting the Vietnam war gather at the French Embassies in the U.S.? Answer: the protesters knew better. Should we also blame the bombing of Cambodia on the French?

        P.S. Israeli apologists always start history at a time convenient for their arguments.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Sorry

    This story just does not pass the smell test. Once a virus is released, do you think the hacking community, let alone other governments such as Russia, are not going to grab that virus and turn it to their use? The U.S. doesn't care what the French are doing, we care what Pakistan and Iran and even Israel is doing. France? Maybe this story is just bate sent out by the French to make them seem relevant.
    Rann Xeroxx
  • Seriously?

    No actual proof here ZDNet, just "sources say". Must be a slow news day.
    PollyProteus
    • Like them moon landings

      No proof!
      ejhonda
      • What are you, twelve?

        The article provides zero proof yet the *headline* says that the US (the country? the government? The people as a collective? Or is this one of those mischevious "they" things?) did the hacking using Facebook and malware. It's unsubstantiated clickbait, nothing more.

        AKA Slow news day.
        PollyProteus
  • Sources tell me:

    That this article is completely phony. Sources have also suggested that the author reads too many french tabloids. Meanwhile very reliable sources have informed me that this article has absolutely no relevance. My sources all agree that had this story been true... it would still be about as important as someone telling you that they saved a bundle on car insurance.
    mrefuman
  • Hacking France

    & the next time the US dumps on the Chinese....
    Kootenay Coyote
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