The Orange cyber defense center, located in Cesson-Sévigné, near Rennes. - Orange Cyber ​​Defense

  • Computer attacks have multiplied since the start of the coronavirus crisis in France.
  • Large healthcare companies, hospitals or food companies are the target of cyberattacks aimed at decommissioning their websites.
  • Individuals are also targeted by phishing attempts linked to the sale of hydroalcoholic gel or masks, warns Orange Cyberdefense.

“The damage is quite heavy. Applications for the general public no longer work, infrastructures such as accounting software are also affected. This attack is unprecedented in its scale, it is truly massive. Containment had just been considered when the city of Marseille saw its computer system hacked last month. It took four weeks to restore essential services such as civil status. But the first port of the Mediterranean is not the only one to have been affected. Since the start of the coronavirus epidemic, cyberattacks have multiplied. According to figures provided by Orange Cyberdéfense, their number has increased by 20 to 25% since the appearance of the Covid-19 in France.

Located in Cesson-Sévigné, near Rennes, the telephone operator's main defense center is the only one to remain open. Twenty people work there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The rest of the 400 employees who usually work on the site are teleworking. And there is no shortage of work. In the past month, the number of “denials of service” has jumped by 50%. These massive attacks are organized from all over the world and saturate the networks to make them unavailable.

"The damage is quite heavy" after a computer attack in Marseille

- 20 Minutes (@ 20Minutes) March 17, 2020

The attack suffered by the city of Marseille is an example. “Often, hackers demand ransoms to restore services. We do not recommend paying them. In general, we manage to put in place effective countermeasures to limit the damage, ”explains Eric Dupuis, regional director of Orange Cyberdefense. In particular, the operator can "put machines at the entrance to the portal to let only what is useful" pass. Like a cyber service of security guards who would filter the entries.

Food and health particularly targeted

Since the beginning of the crisis, it has been mainly the health sectors, such as hospitals, and the food sector. But also the entertainment media and the banking sector. Among its food sector customers, Orange Cyberdefense has had to grow back almost one attack a day since the start of the Covid-19 crisis. "They target online commerce services such as drives," says the boss of the cyber branch of Orange West.

If hackers attack large companies, they also target individuals. Attempts at "phishing", these fraudulent emails allowing senders to recover your personal data, have adapted to the Covid-19 crisis. “They offer masks, hydroalcoholic gel or even free Netflix subscriptions. All of these emails should not be opened, ”advises Baptiste Chevreau, head of the Orange cybersurveillance center.

The French telephone operator's teams also expect their services to be called upon at the time of deconfinement. In question ? Computers used at home for teleworking and whose "life has not been very hygienic", according to specialists. By multiplying the connections to different wifi networks, by installing videoconferencing services in a hurry or by downloading games for children, the employees were able unknowingly to infect their machine. And are likely to benefit the entire intranet network of their company, the day they return to their office. In computers as in the premises, a good spring cleaning may be necessary.


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  • Covid 19
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  • Cyber ​​attack