Russian intelligence attempted to spy on the election campaign of Emmanuel Macron through fake Facebook accounts, Reuters has reported.
Agents posed as “friends of friends” of Macron’s associates in an attempt to get private information from them.
Employees at Facebook noticed the activity in the first round of the French presidential election, tracing it to tools used by Russia’s GRU military intelligence unit – known as Fancy Bear.
Facebook confirmed to Reuters it detected the efforts and deactivated the accounts.
Reuters said that during the campaign, the number of Facebook accounts suspended in France for promoting propaganda or spam spiked to 70,000 from the 30,000 accounts that were closed in April.
Microsoft has also waged its own war against Fancy Bear, taking legal action against Internet domains the Russian spies registered which could masquerade as Microsoft-affiliated sites.
This included addresses like “livemicrosoft[.]net” or “rsshotmail[.]com”. Microsoft has filed legal papers to seize any domains the intelligence agency might register in this vein.
The domain list it provided contains 9,000 domains, including “infomicrosoftcenter[.]com”, “win-newsmail[.]com”, and “statistic-security-microsoft[.]com”.