French minister: Mafia-type gangs likely behind cyber attacks on hospitals

FILE PHOTO: French Junior Minister for Digital Transition and Electronic Communication Cedric O delivers a speech during a news conference on the new anti-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) measures, at the Hotel Matignon in Paris, France October 22, 2020. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS/FIle Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - Mafia-type organisations, often based in eastern Europe, are likely to have been behind a recent wave of cyber attacks on French hospitals, rather than foreign powers, said the French minister for digital technology Cedric O on Thursday.

"Concerning the hospitals, in all likelihood it is not foreign powers, but rather Mafia-type organisations - often situated in eastern countries but not just limited to there - who are looking for money," Cedric O told France 2 television.

Cedric O said such criminal organisations would typically demand ransom money from victims to restore their computer systems, after paralysing their software.

Cedric O added that the situation at French hospitals had stabilised following the cyber attacks earlier this year, but hospitals at Dax and Villefranche-sur-Saône were still working with pen and paper after their computer systems were hit.

Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled plans to invest more money into strengthening France's means to fend off cyberattacks.

France's cybersecurity watchdog said on Feb. 15 that hackers had spent up to three years breaking into organizations by targeting monitoring software made by French company Centreon.

French motorhome company Trigano and boatmaker Beneteau also announced this month that they had suffered cyberattacks.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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