The flaws in the data protection of the French by the public authorities


Vannes was attacked in early 2016. Four agents from this Morbihan municipality, opening a corrupted email, let a virus enter the town’s computer system. It is amazement. « What is there to steal in a municipality? » « , asks Anne Le Hénanff. « We were not aware, continues the deputy mayor, to own a good that has a great value: not money, no, but data, all this data that we collect from the inhabitants. « 

The city realizes that the frantic digitization of administrative procedures is not without risk, and that it is accompanied by a “Responsibility to protect data”. « The IT director warned me, continues Mme The Hénanff: This is the last chance. If we don’t do anything, next time they’ll crack our security system. » Vannes sounds the alarm, and stops all digital development for two years to upgrade.

More recently, on the night of December 5 to 6, a ransomware attack hit the servers of the Syndicat intercommunal d’Informatique (SII) of Bobigny, on which several municipalities and public bodies in Seine-Saint-Denis depend. To obtain a birth or death certificate, the inhabitants of Bobigny must now go in person to the civil status and can no longer do the process online, reports Agence France-Presse. No return to normal is in sight for the moment, the union obviously refusing to pay the ransom of 4 million euros demanded by the pirates.

Administrations continue to be targeted by cybercriminals for the personal information they possess. At the end of October, the services of the town hall of Sainte-Affrique (Aveyron) were attacked. In the summer of 2020, the data of 1.4 million people who tested for Covid-19 in Ile-de-France were stolen from the Assistance publique-Hôpitaux de Paris. In June 2021, Pôle emploi lodged a complaint for the massive theft of the contact details of unemployed people. According to figures from the government Cybermalveillance system, 1,964 public authorities have been supported for this problem this year, an increase of 127% since 2018 (865).

Read also Massive theft of health data from AP-HP: hacker arrested and indicted

National security at stake

The same facts are repeated, sowing doubt on the way in which the public power protects the billions of data, sometimes hypersensitive, that citizens give to it with confidence: social security number, medical follow-up, bank details, income, email addresses and more. mailing, name of spouse, etc. This protection is the responsibility of the National Information Systems Security Agency (Anssi). But she refused to explain to the World how this treasure is protected. It is nevertheless good « A major issue for the confidence of the French in public institutions », recognizes the entourage of the Minister of Transformation and Public Service, Amélie de Montchalin.

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