French bolster cyber security for vote
France is to beef up cyber security amid growing fears Russian hackers could try to influence its upcoming presidential election following claims that Moscow orchestrated US computer attacks to help Donald Trump.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, the defence minister, said French intelligence agencies were trying "to learn lessons for the future" from the allegations by their US counterparts.
Mr Trump has dismissed the accusations and renewed calls for close ties with Russia.
Mr Le Drian said that if the Russians had meddled in the US election, it amounted to an attack on western democracy. France and its political parties are "no less vulnerable," he said.
He said the risk became apparent when hackers took the French television channel TV5 Monde off air in 2015. French investigators suggested that the Kremlin was behind the cyber attack.
Relations between Paris and Moscow soured over Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimea, still legally part of Ukraine, and its role in the Syrian conflict.
François Hollande, the outgoing Socialist president, cancelled the sale of warships to Russia and played a key role in imposing sanctions on Moscow.
Russia has a clear stake in the French election, to be held in a two-round vote in April and May. The favourite, centre-right candidate François Fillon, wants to build a new relationship with Moscow and an alliance over Syria. Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate, also wants closer ties with Russia.
France faces a surge in cyber attacks and its telecommunications, power, water, transport and media networks are at risk, Mr Le Drian said.
In response, the French army is doubling its force of trained 'cyber warriors', to number 2,600 by 2019, supported by an additional 600 computer experts.
"We should not be naive," Mr Drian said in the 'Journal du Dimanche' newspaper. "The cyber threat has become serious, including against our own military systems." (© Daily Telegraph London)