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French voters have started casting ballots for the presidential election in a tense first-round poll that is seen as a test for the spread of populism around the world. More than 60,000 polling stations opened on Sunday for voters who will choose between 11 candidates in the most unpredictable election in generations. Polling stations open in Paris. (AP/Bertrand Combaldieu)
Opinion polls point to a tight race among the four top contenders vying to get into the May 7 presidential run-off that will decide who becomes France s next head of state. Polls suggest far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, an independent centrist and former economy minister, were in the lead. However, conservative Francois Fillon, a former prime minister, appeared to be closing the gap, as was far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon.
A voting machine displays the names of the 11 candidates. (AP/Bertrand Combaldieu) France s 10% unemployment rate, its struggling economy and security issues topped concerns for the 47 million eligible voters. If Ms Le Pen or Mr Melenchon win a spot in the run-off, it will be seen as a victory for the rising wave of populism reflected by the votes for Donald Trump and Brexit.
People line up before casting their vote. (AP/Emilio Morenatti)
Mr Macron and Mr Fillon are committed to European unity and would reform employment rules.
Early voting began on Saturday in France s overseas territories.
A FOOTBALL club is to increase security after a break-in attempt over the Easter weekend.
The ‘mindless’ vandals damaged eight windows in an attempt to get into Haslingden St Mary’s FC club house on Saturday night.
Apart from smashing a clock and picking up a few empty water bottles, they left empty-handed.
Club bosses said they were now planning to brick up the windows and install extra CCTV in a bid to deter future attempts.
Anthony Fitzjohn, secretary of the Shore Street club, said: “It was an attempted break-in . Thankfully they did not get in.
“They came round and tried all eight windows but we have got bars across them.
“Every window has been badly damaged.”
The windows are made of perspex so the attempted thieves smashed round the outside and pushed them open – damaging them beyond repair.
“They managed to put their hands in and took a clock and empty water bottles . The clock had been smashed on the floor,” he said.
“It is mindless really.”
He said the attempt had caused a couple of thousand pounds worth of damage and there were now plans to replace the windows with bricks.
“We will have to increase our security after this .
That is all we can do – keep chipping away.
“We will have to remove the windows and brick them up which is another expense . We just can’t risk it anymore.
“We are very fortunate . We had a narrow escape really . It was all set up for a christening on Sunday and that was able to go ahead as normal thankfully.”
Mr Fitzjohn said the club had been broken into in the past, however there have been no recent incidents.
“We used to have roof lights but we did away with those . It was shocking .
They would come in and drop down 15 to 18ft and just trash the place and take alcohol from the bar.
“We have CCTV but it is inside and on the front so we are looking at getting more cameras.”
He added it was business as usual with functions going ahead and the first team, who are currently top of division one in the West Lancs league, playing a match on Easter Monday.
An international hacking group targeted the Foreign Office in a campaign lasting several months, cyber security experts have revealed. The Callisto Group are highly motivated and well resourced and thought to be involved in intelligence gathering about foreign and security policy. Cyber security firm F-Secure claimed the group s infrastructure has links with Russia, China and Ukraine, but did not offer any definitive conclusions about who was behind Callisto. The Foreign Office (FCO) was one of the organisations targeted by Callisto in 2016, with other targets including military personnel, government officials, think tanks and journalists in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus. Erka Koivunen, chief information security officer at F-Secure said: We do not have enough data to determine what exactly the Callisto Group were doing with the FCO, or whether any activity concerning them was successfully executed. However, we do have indicators that the FCO were targeted by the Callisto Group.
The Government faces tens of thousands of cyber attacks every month and is aware of several established, capable state and state-sponsored groups seeking to penetrate UK networks. The active cyber defence (ACD) programme developed by the Government is aimed at blocking attacks before they reach their intended recipient. In a report on Callisto s activities, F-Secure said that in October 2015 the group used phishing techniques sending emails purporting to come from Google suggesting that their Gmail accounts were about to be closed to harvest security credentials. In early 2016 spear phishing emails with malicious attachments appearing to be from people known to the recipient were sent in highly targeted attacks aimed at government officials, military targets, think tanks and journalists.
The malware contained in the attacks would have enabled Callisto to gather basic information and screenshots but also install further software which could have given the group full remote access to the machine and its data. While the targeting would suggest that the main benefactor of the Callisto Group s activity is a nation state with specific interest in the Eastern Europe and South Caucasus regions, the link to infrastructure used for the sale of controlled substances hints at the involvement of a criminal element, the report said. One potential explanation was that Callisto is a cyber crime group with ties to a nation state, such as acting on behalf of or for the benefit of a government agency but it was not possible to make any definitive assertions , F-Secure concluded.
Cyber security firm F-Secure claimed the Callisto Group s infrastructure has links with Russia, China and Ukraine (PA) A National Cyber Security Centre spokesman said: The first duty of Government is to safeguard the nation and as the technical authority on cyber security, the NCSC is delivering ground breaking innovations to make the UK the toughest online target in the world. Emails are the main path for most attacks and usually rely on an abuse of trust by spoofing well-known brands .
The Government s ACD programme is developing services to block, prevent and neutralise attacks before they reach inboxes.
These measures are being trialled on government systems to prove effectiveness before we ask industry to implement them.