French cyber-warfare security officials have linked a United States and Israeli spy software program to a May 2012 hack of French Presidential office. On Tuesday, November 20, 2012 l'Express magazine published reports that a computer virus similar to Flame, a program used by an U.S./Israeli team to gain access to Iran's nuclear program, was launched during the second round of presidential elections within France upon Sarkozy's loss and Francois Hollande's win.
U.S. officials, including Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Homeland Security spokesman Matthew Chandler offered The Hill statements regarding the security breach. Napolitano initially address the claims as “preposterous” and officially offered via statement: “We have no greater partner than France, we have no greater ally than France. We cooperate in many security-related areas I am here to further reinforce those ties and create new ones. Chander offered: “We categorically deny the allegations by unnamed sources that the U.S. government participated in a cyberattack against the French government. France is one of our strongest allies. Our outstanding cooperation in intelligence sharing, law enforcement, and cyber defense has never been stronger, and remains essential in successfully combating the common threat of extremism.”
Officials within the French government formally addressed the incident via official spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem on Wednesday, November 21, 2012. She insisted agencies are following the electronic trail but yet have had time to gather enough information to identify the culprit. When questioned by press if the U.S. was behind the attack, she offered: “I don’t believe we have any particular worries.” An undisclosed official reported details of the security breach, including a Facebook hack of Sarkozy's account using a "powerful worm" initially identified as Flame. The worm took screen shots, activated a microphone on affected computers, and collected files from former President Sarkozy's computer. Though the motivations behind the attack are uncertain at this time, the French official told l'Express: "You can be on very good terms with a 'friendly' country and still want to guarantee their unwavering support - especially during a transition period."