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French finance ministry hit by coordinated G20 hack

Around 150 computers within the government department redirected information to Chinese sites in December.

Finance ministers at last month's G20 summit: it has emerged that the French finance ministry's computers were attacked in December, with documents on the summit being sent to Chinese addresses.
Finance ministers at last month's G20 summit: it has emerged that the French finance ministry's computers were attacked in December, with documents on the summit being sent to Chinese addresses.
Image: Francois Mori/AP

FRANCE’S FINANCE MINISTRY was the subject of a significant online security attack that saw around 150 computers forward G20 documents to addresses in China, it has been confirmed.

France’s Budget minister Francois Baroin told Europe 1 radio this morning that the department’s internal network had been attacked in December, with the G20 conference itself the apparent target.

“We have leads,” AFP quotes him as telling the station, going on to describe the attack as being on a “spectacular” scale. The attack was “probably the first time” that such a major attack had been directed at a French government agency.

A “maintenance operation” run over the course of the weekend “has led to 10,000 computers being taken off line out of the 170,000 which the ministry runs,” he added.

Baroin’s comments confirmed a story in Paris Match magazine, which suggested the department had been subject to a “sustained cyber attack” seeking information on the international summit, and other documents relating to international affairs.

“We noted that a certain amount of the information was redirected to Chinese sites,” BBC quotes an anonymous official as telling the magazine. “But that does not say very much.”

Paris hosted a G20 summit last month, and it is assumed that the documents referred to that meeting.

G20 meetings of late have been heavily focussed on the topic of currency valuations, with many countries accusing China of deliberately keeping its yuan currency devalued so as to improve its exporting prospects.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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