France blames U.S. for May 2012 cyberattack that required complete rebuild of French systems

// November 21st, 2012 // Hacking and Security


France (Fench) flagIn May 2012, the French government suffered two major cyberattacks, one of which required a complete rebuild of their network and hardware systems to repair. The attacks occurred between the day of the French Presidential election and the day incoming President François Hollande took office on May 15th. The sophistication of the attacks led authorities to suspect China as the attacker. But this week, a report in the French daily L’Express lays the blame solely on the back of the United States government (with no mention of the stupidity of the French officials who were hacked).

The hack began with Facebook Friend request sent to close advisers of the outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy.  Once friended, an invitation to a fake government intranet website was sent which prompted the officials for their official intranet passwords.  Once the hackers obtained the user’s username and password, they were able to infect their local client with a virus similar to Flame — a sophisticated espionage worm developed by the US and Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear program systems. The virus spread rapidly and sources close to the matter tell L’Express that hackers obtained classified documents and “strategic plans” from government hard drives. Investigators at France’s national cybersecurity agency at first struggled to pinpoint the origin of the attack, but sources now suspect that it was launched by the US government, citing its striking resemblance to Flame, as well as its high level of sophistication.

A United States spokesman categorically denied U.S. involvement in the attacks.

“We categorically deny these allegations from unnamed sources, published in L’Express, that the United States government has participated in a cyberattack against France. France is one of our best allies. Our cooperation is remarkable in the areas of intelligence, law enforcement, and cyberdefense. It has never been as strong and essential to our common fight against the threat of extremism.”

Geek Slop take: If you’re dumb enough to be suckered into accepting an unknown Facebook friend request followed by supplying your governmental intranet security credentials on an unknown website, you don’t belong behind a computer anyway.

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