HCSS in the media

In France, a hack falls flat

May 23rd 2017 - 15:51

PARIS — It was an 11th-hour surprise that seemed to offer final proof of how closely this weekend’s critical French election mirrored the high-stakes American contest last fall.

And yet the reaction couldn’t have been more different. 

A centrist candidate who embraced globalization was facing off against a populist, anti-immigrant firebrand who spoke warmly of Russia. Terrorism was at the forefront of the discussion. Voter distrust ran high. 

And then, minutes before the close of campaigning Friday night, the campaign team of Emmanuel Macron — an independent running under the banner of his brand-new “En Marche!” (Onward!) party — announced that its internal communications had been compromised and scattered across social media. 

“Intervening in the last hour of the official campaign, this operation is obviously a democratic destabilization, as has already been seen in the United States during the last presidential campaign,” Macron’s staff said Friday night, minutes before the start of a strict curfew on campaigning, which made further public response off-limits. 

The announcement was all too familiar for those who had watched as embarrassing internal communications from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign seeped onto the Internet last summer, much to the delight of her opponent, Donald Trump, who won an upset victory in November. The correspondence, which included discussion of the Democrat’s private email server and the assessment of her own aides that her instincts could be “terrible,” became one of the tools Republicans used to disparage Clinton. 

Read more in The Washington Post

Alexander Klimburg is a Subject Matter Expert at HCSS

Photo credit: LeWeb14 via Foter.com / CC BY

Alexander Klimburg is Director Cyber Policy and Resilience Program at HCSS, and an associate (and former research fellow) of the Science Technology and Public Policy Program and Cyber Security Project at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center.

Mr. Klimburg is also a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council, and an associate fellow at the Austrian Institute of European and Security Policy.