France promotes cyber defense after hospital malware attacks

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday unveiled a plan to better arm public facilities and private companies against cybercriminals following ransomware attacks in two hospitals this month and an increase in similar cyber attacks in France.

Attacks on hospitals in Dax and Villefranche-sur-Saone have resulted in the transfer of some patients to other facilities as the French health system is under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic. Macron discussed the attacks with officials and workers from both hospitals, saying that the incident “shows how the threat is very serious, at times vital”. “We are learning about these new attacks, some on the way from states as part of new conflicts between nations, others to come from mafias, ”the French leader said during a videoconference. Some attacks have “criminal” or “lucrative” motives, others are used to “destabilize” countries, he added. Macron referred to a massive US federal agency hack last year and the theft of vaccine records from the European Medicines Agency in November.

He stressed the need for international cooperation between police and criminal justice agencies after Ukrainian authorities confirmed that a ransomware program known as Egregor was dismantled in the country earlier this month following a joint US action. France and Ukraine.

Macron’s office said the government will allocate around 500 million euros ($ 603 million) to help upgrade cyber defense systems in the public and private sectors.

The National Cybersecurity Agency of France (ANSSI) reported that ransomware attacks increased by 255% in 2020 from the previous year. All sectors and geographic areas of the country were included, but the increase affects the health sector in particular, the education system, local authorities and digital service providers, ANSSI said.

During ransomware attacks, cybercriminals infect computers or computer systems with viruses that encrypt and lock data until the targeted users pay a ransom.

Villefranche-sur-Saone hospital, located north of the city of Lyon, said its phone system went haywire on Monday during a cyber attack that forced a preemptive shutdown of internet service and other networks to keep the ransomware from diffusion.

The hospital also had to postpone scheduled surgeries for the next day. but he said the patient’s safety was preserved. Dax hospital in southwestern France reported a similar attack last week. Without working phones and computers, health workers had to use pen and paper to keep records. The French cybersecurity agency is helping investigate the attacks.

ANSSI said on Monday that an attack similar to the one used by Russian hackers targeted software distributed by French company Centreon, resulting in the breach by “several French entities” from from late 2017 to 2020. “This campaign bears many similarities to previous campaigns attributed to the intrusion set called Sandworm,” ANSSI said in a statement Monday. Sandworm is a Russian military hacking group that US security officials and cybersecurity experts have claimed interfered in the 2016 US presidential election, stealing and exposing Democratic National Committee emails and violating voter registration database.

The group was also blamed by the US and UK governments for the June 2017 NotPetya cyber attack, which targeted companies operating in Ukraine. It caused at least $ 10 billion in damage globally, most notably to the Danish shipping multinational Maersk.

(This story was not edited by our team of editors and is generated from a feed.)

News Highlights:

  • French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday unveiled a plan to better arm public facilities and private companies against cybercriminals following ransomware attacks on two hospitals this month and a resurgence of similar cyber attacks in France. pushed the transfer of some patients to other facilities as the French health system is under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.
  • France promotes cyber defense after hospital malware attacks