FRENCH presidential front-runner Emmanuel Macron’s staff have confirmed his campaign was targeted by hackers, but said the threat was warded off.

The move came after researchers from the Japanese anti-virus firm Trend Micro added more details to previous suggestions that the centrist politician was being singled out for electronic eavesdropping by the Kremlin. The campaign’s digital chief, Mounir Mahjoubi, confirmed the attempted intrusions, saying: “It’s serious, but nothing was compromised.”

Macron faces far-right rival Marine Le Pen in the presidential run-off on May 7.

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Trend Micro said its discovery came through its monitoring of the creation of rogue, lookalike websites used to trick victims into divulging their passwords.

The Tokyo-based firm detected four Macron-themed fake domains being set up on digital infrastructure used by a group it calls Pawn Storm, according to Trend Micro researcher Feike Hacquebord. Mahjoubi said at least one of the sites had recently been used as part of an attempt to steal campaign staffers’ online credentials.

Trend Micro has stopped short of accusing any country of pulling Pawn Storm’s strings, but American spy agencies and a variety of threat intelligence firms say the prolific group, also known as Fancy Bear or APT28, is an arm of Russia’s intelligence apparatus.

Russian government officials have long denied claims of state-sanctioned hacking. On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying that the notion Russian hackers were targeting the French election was “completely incorrect”.

Mahjoubi said the attempts to penetrate the Macron campaign date back to December. In February, the campaign complained publicly of being targeted by Russia-linked electronic spying operations, although it offered no proof at the time.

Yesterday, Macron and Le Pen both attended a national ceremony held in honour of Xavier Jugele, the police officer shot dead by an Islamic extremist on the Champs-Elysees in Paris last week.

French president Francois Hollande paid tribute to the 37-year-old officer, while Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and former president Nicolas Sarkozy also paid their respects.