France Plans to Boosts Cyberdefense After Attacks on Hospitals

After two French hospitals became the most recent targets of ransomware attacks, President Emmanuel Macron said his office plans to inject one billion euros (US$1.21 billion) into the country’s cyberdefense.

A new cybersecurity center is scheduled to open in Paris later this year. (Source: Flickr.com)A new cybersecurity center is scheduled to open in Paris later this year. (Source: Flickr.com)Cybercriminals first attacked the Dax hospital in southwestern France on February 9, preventing staff from accessing computer records. Less than a week later, the Villefranche-sur-Saône hospital, located 35 km north of Lyon, tweeted that a cyberattack had forced staff to postpone surgeries scheduled for the following day. 

“The cyberattacks in Dax and Villefranche-sur-Saône confirm the importance of taking the issue of cybersecurity very seriously. We have made it a priority,” Macron tweeted last week. “A total of 1 billion euros will be invested.”

The President announced that his office will earmark half of that sum to strengthen cyberdefense systems in the public and private sectors. His office also said that some of the money will also go to the National Cybersecurity Agency (ANNSI) for cyber defense training, local research and development, and for new hires. The number of cybersecurity jobs in France should double by 2025.

“We are investing massively to strengthen the cybersecurity of public services, as well as the health and medical-social sectors,” he said. “We need to support the adoption of cybersecurity solutions by all organizations, both private and public.”

The place is expected to host some 1,500 researchers and 60 institutions specializing in cybersecurity.

Separately, France’s National Cybersecurity Agency published a statement last week informing of a hack to monitoring software Centreon, which resulted “in the breach of several French entities” following a series of attacks carried out between 2017 and 2020.

The agency said the attacks share similarities with previous campaigns attributed to Sandworm, a Russian hacking group which has been previously accused of causing a power failure in western Ukraine in 2015 and of using malware to attack businesses in Ukraine in 2017.