An attack that compromised 150 of the 170,000 systems is said to be the one of the biggest that hit the French Ministry of Economics.
The attack began as a series of email with malicious attachments. The attachments exploited a then unknown vulnerability in one of the software used by the ministry staff.
The emails were formulated as coming from the colleagues and counterparts of the ministry staff from different locations and were received by all levels of employees.
The attachment, if executed, would install a Trojan horse on the system. The same software was then used to infect other uninfected systems on the network and also used to steal data from the ministry.
French security agency Director General, Patrick Pailloux, said that the attackers had access to the mailboxes of many users and the servers over a course of few weeks and only last week was the security team of the agency was able to find out about the activities of the Trojan horse.
During the same time as the attack on the ministry of economics, were attacks on the other departments of the French government computers, but none succeeded. The alarming fact was the attackers were determined and professional as it seems from the type of attacks.
The ministry was cut off from the Internet over the weekend and it took 150 IT staff to clean the things up and align the security systems. The ministry was put back online on Monday morning with normal duties resuming said the agency director.
Francois Baroin said that the latest attack was probably from outside of France, but the details they have currently are too vague and it is highly unlikely that they would be able to confirm any of their findings without further investigation. Francois also advised that the attacks are not only targeting big companies around the world, but as a matter of fact states/countries also need to be aware of the fact that organized cyber attacks are a fact of the day and no country is safe from them.