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French finance ministry confirms cyber attack

PARIS, Mar 7 – The French finance ministry confirmed Monday it had come under cyber attack in December from hackers mainly targetting G20 documents.

The attacks sought "chiefly dossiers linked to the G20" and forced the finance ministry to "significantly strengthen its security systems," Dominique Lamiot, secretary general of the finance and budget ministries, told AFP.

Budget Minister Francois Baron said an investigation was underway into the origin of the attacks.

"We have leads," unconfirmed at this stage, Baroin said.

Earlier Monday, Paris-Match magazine said on its Internet site that the finance ministry has come under sustained cyber attack since December, citing one Internet security official as saying it was the most extensive cyber attack ever launched against France.

A senior official who declined to be named told Paris-Match that pirated documents had been redirected to Chinese Internet addresses.

Lamiot said that around 100 computers in the ministry\’s central services division had been "compromised" in the attacks but individuals had not been targetted by the hackers.

"A maintenance operation (at the weekend) has led to 10,000 computers being taken off line out of the 170,000 which the ministry runs," he said, adding they would be back online later Monday.

He said hackers were interested in "international matters" rather than domestic documents.

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Patrick Pailloux, director general of the French National Agency for Information Technology Security, told Paris-Match that the hackers were after "documents related to the French presidency of the G20 and to international economic affairs."

"The actors were determined professionals and organised. It is the first attack of this size and scale against the French state," he added.

Bercy has filed an official complaint with the French courts and the French secret service has taken up the case.

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