France faces 19 000 cyberattacks since shootings

2015-01-15 17:42
(<a href=>Shutterstock</a>)


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - Hackers have targeted about 19 000 French websites since a rampage by Islamic extremists left 20 dead last week, France's cyberdefence official said on Thursday, as the president tried to calm the nation's inflamed religious tensions.

France is on edge since last week's attacks, which began on 7 January at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The paper, repeatedly threatened for its caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, was burying several of its slain staff members on Thursday.

Calling it an unprecedented surge, Admiral Arnaud Coustilliere, head of cyberdefence for the French military, said about 19 000 French websites had faced cyberattacks in recent days, some carried out by well-known Islamic hacker groups.

The attacks, mostly relatively minor denial-of-service attacks, hit sites as varied as military regiments to pizza shops but none appeared to have caused serious damage, he said.

"What's new, what's important, is that this is 19 000 sites - that's never been seen before," Coustilliere said. "This is the first time that a country has been faced with such a large wave of cyber-contestation."

Coustilliere called the attacks a response to the massive demonstrations against terrorism that drew 3.7 million people into the streets on Sunday across France. He pointed to "more or less structured groups" that used tactics like posting symbols of jihadist groups on companies' websites.

Two of the Paris terror attackers claimed allegiances to al-Qaeda in Yemen, and another - who targeted a kosher supermarket - to the Islamic State group.

Military authorities have launched round-the-clock surveillance to protect the government sites still coming under attack.

DoS attacks

According to Arbor Networks, a private company that monitors threats to the internet, in the past 24 hours alone, France has been the target of 1 070 denial of service attacks. That's about a quarter as many as the United States, but the US hosts 30 times as many websites.

The terror attacks in Paris occurred in an atmosphere of rising anti-Semitism in France, and have prompted scattered violence against Muslims and Muslim sites around France in an apparent backlash. They have also put many French Muslims on the defensive.

Since the attacks, French justice officials have been cracking down by arresting dozens of people who glorified terrorism or made racist or anti-Semitic remarks.

French President Francois Hollande insisted on Thursday that any anti-Muslim or anti-Semitic acts must be "severely punished", He said France's millions of Muslims should be protected and respected, "just as they themselves should respect the nation" and its strictly secular values.

"In the face of terrorism, we are all united," he said at the Institute of the Arab World in Paris, noting that Muslims are the main victims of Islamic extremist violence.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is heading to France later on Thursday, said he wants to "share a big hug with Paris and express the affection of the American people for France and for our friends there who have been through a terrible time".

With 120 000 security forces deployed to prevent future attacks, nerves jumped overnight when a car rammed into a policewoman guarding the president's palace. Prosecutors and police said, however, the incident at the Elysee Palace had no apparent links to last week's shootings.

The car carrying four people took a one-way street in the wrong direction then drove off when the police officer tried to stop them. The officer sustained slight leg injuries, police said. Two people were later arrested and two others in the car fled.

Charlie sold out again

Customers lined up again on Thursday to try to get copies of Charlie Hebdo's first edition since the attacks, which again had Muhammad on its cover. Even though it has a special increased print run of 5 million copies, it sold out before dawn on Thursday in Paris kiosks for a second straight day.

Some Muslims, who believe their faith forbids depictions of the prophet, reacted with dismay or anger to the new cover. Pakistani lawmakers passed a resolution and marched outside parliament on Thursday to protest the publication.

A leader of Yemen's al-Qaeda branch officially claimed responsibility for the attacks at Charlie Hebdo, saying in a video online that the slayings were in "vengeance for the prophet".

But US and French intelligence officials are leaning toward an assessment that the Paris terror attacks were inspired by al-Qaeda but not directly supervised by the group. That view would put the violence in the category of homegrown terror attacks, which are extremely difficult to detect and thwart.

Read more on:    france  |  paris shooting  |  security

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.