Even though France has François Hollande as its president his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, is still making headlines. This time, a magazine has reported that Sarkozy’s administration was hacked by the United States during his final days as president. If the accusations are true, the incident could hurt relations between the two nations.
The story was first reported on the French magazine, l’Express. According to The Atlantic the compromise began with the hackers sending friend requests to staff members at the Palais de l’Élysée, the official residence of the French president. After accepting the request, the staff member was sent an email for a fake login page of the administration’s network, which allowed hackers to get a hold of an actual username and password to access the network.
Once the hackers have infiltrated the network they place the malware software, also called intrusive software, so that it can spread to other computers that are using the same network. According to Wired, the specific malware that used is called Flame. The same article also reported that Flame is used “to spy on the users of infected computers and steal data from them, including documents, recorded conversations and keystrokes.” The same software is also being used to spy on systems in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Sudan.
It is unclear yet as to real reason of the hacks and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano could not confirm or deny the U.S. involvement in the hack. President Sarkozy’s computer was not affected because his computer was not connected to the network. There are many speculations, but the biggest issue on the French side is the lack of security in their networks. The fact that they gained access by sending a friend request on Facebook shows that the French government is not well equipped to prevent malware to infect their networks. I’m not sure if other systems in the government are more or less protected than the presidential network. Either way they need to run tests to ensure that their security is up to date and impenetrable because the damage might be worse the next time.