• Did you know

    6% of businesses report that they have suffered a confidentiality breach…

  • Did you know

    9% of businesses report that they have received phishing emails asking for data…

  • Did you know

    45% of businesses report that security incidents costs up to £120,000 per year…

  1. The French finance ministry has been suffering an unprecedented massive cyber attack

    By neil on 9th Mar 2011 | No Comments

    Since December 2010, the French finance ministry has been suffering an unprecedented massive cyber attack, according to a report published this morning by the French magazine Paris-Match, which has been confirmed by the French finance ministry. 
     
    The main target for the hackers have been “documents related to the G20’s French presidency and economical and international affairs”, according to Patrick Pailloux, director general of the National Agency of Security in Information Systems (ANSSI), 
     
    A network maintenance operation was carried out by the ministry last weekend and involved 12,000 of its 17,000 work sites. 
     
    Approximately 150 computers were affected via what is thought to be a classic but effective hacking method. According to Paris-Match, the hacker, using a private email address, takes control of the targeted computer using a “trojan horse”- a programme which is supposed to perform a desirable function, but once installed, can access information and harm the system. 
     
    “For two months, between 20 and 30 ANSSI people have worked day and night on this affair. Hackers have tried to attack other ministries. There are things we might not have seen, but as far as I know, only Bercy (the finance ministry) has been hit,” said Mr. Pailloux in the Paris-Match report. 
    Further investigation is needed to identify the 150 civil servants targeted. Most of them worked on the G20, Mr. Pailloux added. 
     
    Responsibility 
     
    An anonymous source working in the ministry said that “a certain amount of information was redirected to Chinese websites”, even though “this does not mean too much”. 
     
    “It is really difficult to know who is behind this attack,” said Mr. Pailloux. 
     
    The Canadian Finance and Economy Ministry was targeted by a similar attack in January. Canada, who also hosted a G20 summit six months ago, did not say which documents were targeted. Some claim that, in this case, the cyber attacks originated in China. 
     
    In 2009, a report by the Munk Centre for International Studies in Toronto, demonstrated the existence of GhostNet, a spy network targeting embassies and foreign relations ministries in several countries. Researchers claimed the network was based in China, but could not prove the involvement of the Chinese authorities. 
     
    Are we defenceless the face of hackers? 
     
    Neil Gurnhill, a leading cyber insurance broker at Website Insurance, a company specialising in online business protection, says that these kinds of attacks are becoming more and more frequent. 
     
    Due to level of harm these attacks can cause, as well as how difficult they are the prevent, “it is vital to detect them as soon as possible,” said Mr. Gurnhill, speaking exclusively to The Fresh Outlook. 
     
    “Early detection drastically reduces the amount of data stolen and restricts the damage.” 
     
    “Also, the French government should have had a policy to detect the attack earlier, such as a continuous internal checking security system,” he added. 
     
    The investigation into the cyber attacks on the French finance ministry is ongoing.