On Tuesday, National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers confirmed that Russian hackers were responsible for infiltrating and attempting to disrupt the French presidential election. Rogers, a President Barack Obama appointee who currently remains in office under Donald Trump, said as much of the so-called “email leak” targeting centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron while appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Despite the hack, Macron went on to beat the far-right populist Marine Le Pen, who was often compared to Trump and reportedly favored by him and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We had become aware of Russian activity. We had talked to our French counterparts prior to the public announcements of the events that were publicly attributed and gave them a heads-ups. ‘Look, we’re watching the Russians. We’re seeing them penetrate some of your infrastructure. Here’s what we’ve seen. What can we do to try to assist?’ We’re doing similar things with our German counterparts, with our British counterparts. They have an upcoming election sequence.”
The Associated Press reached out to the French cyber security agency ANSII for comment, but they declined. As for the hack that targeted Macron’s campaign emails, CNN reports at least 14.5 gigabytes of “emails, personal and business documents” were posted online in the form of more than 70,000 files on a text-sharing website. In a statement from Macron’s En Marche! party, the responsible parties had apparently mixed what was stolen with fake information “to create confusion and misinformation.”
Rogers concluded his remarks by arguing the U.S. should officially identify and condemn the parties responsible for similar cyber attacks, especially when they pose a threat to American democracy and other democratic governments. He called such activity “unacceptable,” adding “there is a price to pay for doing this.” However, because these and other intrusive activities are “all blurring in this digital world we are living in,” the country is “not there yet” when it comes to adequately addressing and defending against such measures.