French government cyber crisis teams ‘useless’ against DDoS

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Several French government websites and networks have been crippled by an intense and ongoing series of cyberattacks over the past day, with pro-Russian hacker group Anonymous Sudan mocking the government’s cyber defense capabilities as “useless” against the onslaught.

The French prime minister’s office confirmed the disruptive attacks on Monday, stating that “since [Sunday], several government departments have been the subject of cyberattacks whose technical methods are conventional but the intensity unprecedented.” The statement added that “many ministerial services have been targeted” in the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

While the prime minister’s office claimed the impact has been reduced and some government website access restored, the hacker group Anonymous Sudan gleefully claimed responsibility on their Telegram channel. They boasted of “a massive cyberattack” on French digital infrastructure and derided the government’s cyber crisis team as “useless” in fending off the offensive:

Infosec firm FalconFeeds claims the hacker group Anonymous Sudan did not act alone, suggesting it had help from Russia, pro-Russian threat actor UserSec, and another group named 22C:

No motive for the attack has been revealed, but French president Emmanuel Macron recently suggested European powers need to contemplate sending troops to fight alongside Ukraine’s military to repel Russia’s illegal invasion. The DDoS assault is suspected to be a sign of Russian displeasure over Macron’s comments.

DDoS attacks, while disruptive, do not actually breach secure systems. However, they can severely hamper government communications and services if not properly defended against.

French cybersecurity agencies DINUM and ANSSI mobilised teams to battle the onslaught but Anonymous Sudan’s claims suggest their countermeasures have so far proven ineffective. Cloudflare’s Radar also reported smaller DDoS attacks against French entities last week, though those did not significantly disrupt operations.

The pro-Russian hacking collective has carried out a string of politically-motivated DDoS attacks recently. While the current attacks use fairly conventional methods, their intensity and sustained duration, potentially amplified by cooperation between multiple threat groups, appear to have overwhelmed French cyber defenses so far.

(Image Credit: Jacques Paquier under CC BY 2.0 DEED license)

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