Hollande Requests Cybersecurity Briefing on French Election

French President Francois Hollande requested a full briefing on what is being done to fend off cyber interference in the 2017 presidential race.

“The defense council studied the level of threat,” Hollande’s office said in a statement after the security committee’s weekly meeting Wednesday. “The president asked to be shown in the next meeting the specific protective measures and the heightened attention being given for the electoral campaign, including in the cyber sector,” Hollande’s office said.

Hollande’s request comes after independent candidate Emmanuel Macron reported repeated cyber-attacks on his campaign and blaming Russian interference. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied Russia had any involvement in hacking the campaign in a conference call on Tuesday. He said there is no possibility that the Russian government had any connection to the attacks and that the accusations were “absurd.”

Still, the Macron campaign hasn’t backed down and has called for action on the part of the French state.

“Let’s not let Russia destabilize France’s presidential election!” Macron’s campaign chief, Richard Ferrand, wrote in a column in Le Monde newspaper dated Wednesday. “What we want to do is to dedicate ourselves to our campaign and our program within the calm assured by the rules of our democracy.”

An official at cyber defense unit of France’s national security agency would neither confirm nor deny the Russians were behind the attacks when contacted on Monday. An official at President Francois Hollande’s office said the government is increasingly concerned about cyber security during the election cycle and said the administration’s vigilance was prompted by what happened during the U.S. presidential election last year.

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