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French issue alerte rouge after local governments knocked offline by cyber attack • The Register | #cybercrime | #computerhacker

Several French municipal governments’ services have been knocked offline following a “large-scale cyber attack” on their shared servers.

The attack remains ongoing according to the city of Saint-Nazaire, one of the affected governments. “The services of the two communities cannot operate normally,” the city told residents in an alert, referring to both the city and agglomeration of Saint-Nazaire.

Other affected municipalities include Montoir-de-Bretagne, Donges, La Chapelle-des-marais and Porniche, as well as Sonadev and the Agency for the Sustainable Development of the Saint Nazaire Region.

“At this stage, the origin of the cyber attack is unknown, as is the duration,” according to the notice, which said the city and agglomeration of Saint-Nazaire would post updates on social media and government websites as services resume.

While there’s no word as to the nature of the incident, the outages follow a massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that flooded several French government websites with bogus traffic on March 11 and 12, but did not disrupt government services.

Anonymous Sudan claimed to be behind the flood of network traffic. This is one of the several pro-Russia second-rate hacktivist crews that emerged during the Russia-Ukraine war and reportedly has ties to the Killnet gang.

Just days after the DDoS incident, France Travail – the government department responsible for registering and assisting unemployed people – disclosed a huge data breach that exposed upwards of 43 million citizens’ private information dating back 20 years.

Names, dates of birth, social security numbers, France Travail identifiers, email addresses, postal addresses, and phone numbers were compromised, according to the department.

A month earlier, massive data breaches at France’s Viamedis and Almerys, two third-party payment providers for health care and insurance companies, leaked data belonging to more than 33 million people.

The timing of these cyber attacks is worrisome for French officials, as the country gears up for the summer Olympics – and anticipates a deluge of hacking attempts around the Paris Games.

French president Emmanuel Macron has warned he has “no doubt whatsoever, including in terms of information,” that Russia will target the Paris Olympics. Russian athletes will compete in the Games, but not under the Russian flag – the country has been banned from participating because of its illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Also this week, French cyber security officials visited Washington, DC, to consult with their American counterparts and cyber security firms on Olympics-related cyber threats and how to avoid any disruptions from government-backed gangs and hacktivist crews. ®


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