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France will step up cyber security defenses after the attacks

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President Emmanuel Macron announced new investments to strengthen France’s cyber security defenses after two hospitals were hit by ransomware and the national security agency linked a major cyber attack spanning three years with Russian hackers.

The government is allocating about 500m euros ($ 602m) to help companies and public authorities increase their cyber defense, an official in the president’s office said on Wednesday.

Macron’s goal is to triple the annual sales of French cybersecurity companies to 25 billion euros in 2025 from 7.3 billion euros in 2019 and double the number of jobs in the sector by 2025.

The French leader will speak to officials at two hospitals recently hit by hackers – in Villefranche-sur-Saone in central France and in Dax in the south-west – on Thursday morning. While medical facilities have been targeted more frequently since the COVID pandemic began, according to ANSSI observer, a French official said the country was not suffering more than others.

French President Emmanuel Macron.
Photo credit: Lisi Niesner / Bloomberg.

Earlier this week, ANSSI said an attack similar to that used by Russian military hackers disrupted software firm Centeron, which lists Airbus SE, Orange SA and Electricite de France SA as its customers, in a campaign that began in late 2017 and continued into 2020 The company said the vulnerability may have been in an “older, open source” version of its product, rather than software sold to corporations.

A French official at the foreign ministry on Wednesday described the campaign as “irresponsible” and an attack on the country’s sovereignty. France is taking a “responsible care” position in terms of public attribution, the official said, declining to name the source of the attack, adding that dialogue with Russia is needed on the issue.

Russia has rejected the suggestion it was involved in.

Copyright 2021 Bloomberg.

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