Hollande voices fear of cyberattacks in French vote

PARIS, France – French President Francois Hollande called on Wednesday, February 15, for measures to prevent cyberattacks ahead of upcoming elections after US intelligence accused Russia of meddling in that country's vote to boost Donald Trump.

Hollande asked his security cabinet to brief him on the "specific vigilance and protection measures being taken during the electoral campaign, including in the cyber domain", the presidency said in a statement.

Hollande, who is not himself seeking re-election, did not say what kind of threat the two-stage April 23-May 7 presidential election faces, nor did he point the finger at any group or country.

But the call comes in the midst of a furor over Russia's alleged interference in the US campaign that has already forced out one of Trump's top aides.

Trump's national security advisor Michael Flynn resigned on Monday after it was revealed that he misled top officials over his contacts with Russia during the campaign.

The revelations have added to suspicions over Russia's role in the election.

US intelligence agencies had already accused Russian intelligence of hacking Democratic Party emails that embarrassed Trump's rival Hillary Clinton.

With France going into a high-stakes election that could see the country tack sharply to the right, the country's anti-cyberattacks agency, ANSSI, is on high alert.

This week, aides to one of the leading candidates, the staunchly europhile Emmanuel Macron, accused Russia of trying to derail his bid.

Macron's spokesman Benjamin Griveaux on Tuesday accused Moscow of being behind a flurry of cyberattacks over the past month on Macron's campaign website and email servers.

"Half of the attacks, and there are hundreds a day, come from Ukraine, which is known for its links to hackers and people responsible for cyberattacks in Russia," Griveaux said, accusing the Kremlin of trying to boost conservative nominee Francois Fillon and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

Macron's aides have also accused the state-owned Russia Today (RT) channel and the Sputnik news agency -- both of which have French-language sites -- of waging a "smear campaign" against the 39-year-old former economy minister for reporting allegations about his private life.

Macron, who is married, last week denied rumours of having had a gay affair. – Rappler.com