March 7, 2011

Chinese Cyber Attack Gathers G20 Documents

Hackers using internet addresses from China have prompted the French finance ministry to turn off 10,000 computers, officials told reporters on Monday.

Apparently the hackers were hunting for documents relating to the Group of 20 (G20) consisting of developed and developing nations, which this year is led by France, said Budget Minister Francois Baroin. "We have leads," he told Europe 1 radio.

The December attacks on the finance ministry computers, have forced the ministry to "significantly strengthen its security systems," said Dominique Lamiot, secretary general of the finance and budget ministries.  "A maintenance operation during weekend resulted in 10,000 computers being taken off line out of the 170,000 which the ministry runs," he said, adding they should be back online later Monday.

Lamiot explained that hackers were most interested in "international matters" rather than domestic documents.

Patrick Pailloux, director general of the French National Agency for Information Technology Security responded to questions by saying, "The actors were determined professionals and organized. It is the first attack of this size and scale against the French state." The ministry has filed an official complaint with the French courts and the French secret service has taken up the case.

President Nicolas Sarkozy wants his G20 legacy to be the reform of the world financial and trade system. In order to win emerging nations' backing for his market and exchange rate regulation plans, he has put development aid and a world tax on financial transactions at the heart of his ambitious program.

Accounting for 85 percent of total world output, the G20 became the top global forum in the wake of the 2008 crisis. France will head the group until November, when Mexico is due to take over. The Group of 20 was established in 1999 to bring together industrialized and developing economies to promote global economic stability.


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