Presidential 2022: after the crisis in Ukraine, reprisals 2.0 from Russia?

The executive fears foreign interference during the presidential election, with attempts at destabilization online.

Fears of foreign interference during the presidential campaign in France have been reinforced by the Ukrainian crisis, and this standoff between the West and Russia. In The voice of the North this Wednesday, Emmanuel Macron himself evokes “decisive hours for the security of the entire region.”

In his political family, it is feared that the episode rubs off on the presidential election, with reprisals 2.0 from Russia. “Vladimir Putin is quite capable of shifting the battlefield to cyber”says a member of the future campaign team. “I am very worried about it”says a senior minister.

First the cyberattack, to neutralize communications in a campaign team or to steal strategic documents. What happened in 2017 with the Macronleaks, these internal Macron campaign emails that were published. Second threat: the manipulation of public opinion via misinformation. What intelligence identified before Brexit in Britain with thousands of fake accounts created to steer the vote. Or more recently during the elections in Germany, with automatic messages that targeted the environmentalist candidate. “What we have seen in recent years is more the work of Russian state pharmacies”, according to a close friend of Emmanuel Macron, who judges that Beijing or Ankara represent at this stage a weaker threat than Moscow.

As a preventive measure, the legal arsenal was strengthened during the five-year period with a law on fake news which accentuates the responsibility of platforms. A new structure has been created: Viginum, attached to National Defense and responsible for tracking down foreign digital interference .

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For the first time, all campaign teams are also offered training by ANSSI, the National Information Systems Security Agency. A second session is organized this month. “We were told that the threats will come anyway at the end of the election, in the last moments, and so you have to be ready to fight back at all and all the time.” So says a counselor who attended the first session. Working ! for its part makes public this Wednesday its response protocol to this type of attack.

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