On the night of December 5-6, a ransomware attack [qui chiffre des données et réclame le paiement d’une importante rançon pour rétablir l’accès] hit the servers of the Syndicat intercommunal d’Informatique (SII) of Bobigny, on which several municipalities and public bodies in the department depend.
Since then, the town halls of several cities of Seine-Saint-Denis have fallen back on the means at hand to ensure the public service after a major computer attack: return to paper and pen, failing to have Internet. Administration most exposed to contaminated infrastructure, the town hall of Bobigny had to disconnect its Internet access to try to limit the spread. Unable to turn on the computers, deprived of connection, its municipal employees found themselves cut off from the world.
We can still establish a PACS, but not dissolve a PACS
However « we have a duty of continuity of the public service », explains Rached Zehou, municipal councilor delegated to Bobigny and president of the SII, while praising « the ingenuity » of the municipal agents in this crisis. Municipal email addresses are no longer accessible? Temporary Gmail boxes are created to be able to communicate with the public. Are the landlines almost all unusable? 4G boxes are installed in certain priority services to allow them to access the Internet from laptops.
To obtain a birth or death certificate, residents must now go in person to the civil registry and can no longer complete the process online. Invoices for extracurricular activities can not be sent, nor the sums collected. You can still enter into a PACS, but not dissolve a PACS.
Overnight, « we no longer had any mail »
In La Courneuve, another city strongly affected but less heavily than Bobigny, « we are finding solutions almost everywhere in the form of Excel tables, paper archiving or the use of another software », declares its director. General of Services Anthony Giunta. With Microsoft licenses, this popular municipality of 45,000 inhabitants was able to open new mailboxes on another server for the agents who needed them the most. But they no longer have their message history or contact book.
Overnight, “we no longer had any email. In parentheses, it is not that unpleasant at first, but it poses a real concern at the level of the circulation of information ”, notes Anthony Giunta.
Out of the question to pay the ransom of four million euros
No return to normal is in sight at the moment. Out of the question, of course, to pay the ransom of four million euros demanded by the pirates. Before they can fully restart the servers, authorities must ensure that the threat has been contained and that the systems are not at risk of a new attack soon after.
In Blanc-Mesnil, the damage is more limited. The emails still work, but some professional software necessary for human resources management or town planning is inaccessible. As a result, the 1,300 or so municipal officers could not receive their December pay as usual before Christmas, it will only be paid to them a few days after.
Deprived of their automated software, human resources managers have returned to a certain craft. “It requires working the old fashioned way. They go over the cards one by one, redo the calculations based on what was paid last month. It is more complicated to peel ”, indicates the cabinet of the mayor Jean-Philippe Ranquet (Libres!).
Bondy, Pantin and Villepinte have previously reported computer attacks
In a recent report, the National Information Systems Security Agency (AnssiI) noted an acceleration in ransomware attacks against local communities. In the space of a year alone, for Seine-Saint-Denis alone, the towns of Bondy, Pantin and Villepinte have previously reported large-scale computer attacks affecting their operations.
« Local authorities have increasingly important issues, we manage large amounts of data, both on city employees and on our inhabitants », analyzes Rached Zehou, also an IT engineer specializing in the deployment of infrastructure. « The state is transferring more and more skills to us, » he says, « which requires more digitization, without the means to protect themselves on the other side. »