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Local authorities declare war on cybercrime

They spend two months looking around your information system. They crash the entire system in two hours. And it takes you two years to recover. The 2-2-2 principle is an apt summary of what cybercriminals do when they attack companies, hospitals or local authorities

A powerful cyberattack has crippled the city of Lille’s computer network since 1 March. Hackers stole the payroll files of the city’s employees, then published their bank details—and those of elected officials—on the dark web. The city can no longer pay its staff directly. Three months after the attack began, only one in six computers has been restored to normal working order. The cost of the damage is already in excess of €1 million. A return to normal operations is not expected before September. And that is the best-case scenario.

This chilling reality touches everyone, not least local authorities. Over the past year, 123 of them have been the target of a cyberattack: five regions, nine départements, 31 conurbations or communities of municipalities, and 78 town halls (plus 36 hospitals, clinics or fire stations, according to Déclic’s figures).

Faced with this phenomenon, a combination of terrorism and crime, public authorities have not just sat around doing nothing. In February 2022, the French government unveiled the Cyber Campus in Paris’s La Défense business district, the symbolic hub of cybersecurity in France. It has allocated additional resources to ANSSI, the French National Cybersecurity Agency. And it has encouraged the regions to create their own Cyber Campuses.

It goes without saying that the regions are on the front line in what is tantamount to an underground war. According to the survey published by Régions Magazine in issue 167 (available mid-June), several of them have already opened their own Cyber Campuses and others are set to follow suit. The positive knock-on effect of this great battle is the resulting job-creating ecosystems.

With the advent of artificial intelligence, the effects of which—both positive and negative—are still poorly understood, there is every reason to fear that this great battle is only just beginning. Further investment will be needed, along with a huge dose of awareness-raising, training and education to ensure everyone has the resources to cope. This is the price we must pay to ensure that our public services, and our democratic societies as a whole, run smoothly.

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