At the time, the hack was believed to be the work of Islamic State sympathisers although later reports from Trend Micro and others suggest this was a ‘false flag’ operation, conducted by the APT28/Pawn Storm group, which is believed to be closely associated with the Russian government.
The attack has been traced back to January 2015 when phishing emails were sent to TV5 Monde journalists. Leaked documents suggest German secret services knew about the attack two months before discovery, while experts, speaking anonymously to SCMagazineUK.com recently, suggested GCHQ knew about it too.
The broadcaster’s CEO has now told SC that IT services won’t fully resume until October, some six months after the attack. What’s more, the hack is costing the TV station millions of Euros.
Yves Bigot, CEO at TV France, was quoted in French magazine France.Info recently, in which he said that the broadcaster was without Internet and Skype, while equating the situation to him to his colleagues being castaways in the TV series ‘Lost’. He said the attack costs varied between €4.3 million and €5 million, with €9.9million due to be spent over the next three years.
On Wednesday, France woke up to find that the National Security Agency had been snooping on the phones of its last three presidents.
Top secret documents provided by Wikileaks to two media outlets, Mediapart and Libération, showed that the NSA had access to confidential conversations of France’s highest ranking officials, including the country’s current president, François Hollande; the prime minister in 2012, Jean-Marc Ayrault; and former presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac.
Yet also today, the lower house of France’s legislature, the National Assembly, passed a sweeping surveillance law. The law provides a new framework for the country’s intelligence agencies to expand their surveillance activities. Opponents of the law were quick to mock the government for vigorously protesting being surveilled by one of the country’s closest allies while passing a law that gives its own intelligence services vast powers with what its opponents regard as little oversight. But for those who support the new law, the new revelations of NSA spying showed the urgent need to update the tools available to France’s spies.
Of course, the fact that the NSA is listening to the conversations of French presidents is not that surprising to anyone who has been paying attention to the revelations in the past two years of NSA spying, nor is the idea that France might do the same to its allies. In 2013, the German newsmagazineDer Spiegel revealed that the U.S. government had targeted the cellphone of German Prime Minister Angela Merkel—so why not Hollande’s phone, too?
The response from the French government today was firm but predictable. Senior intelligence officials will travel to the U.S. to meet their counterparts in Washington, while the U.S. ambassador in Paris was summoned to the Elysee Palace. A similar scenario played out in 2013, when Le Monde published Snowden documents that revealed some of the extent of American surveillance in France. Prime Minister Manuel Valls said today that he wants a “code of conduct” to guide the relationship between France and the U.S. on intelligence activities—but the government demanded the exact same thing almost two years ago.