Saint-Nazaire, France
Saint-Nazaire, France. Image:

‘Large-scale cyberattack’ hits five French municipalities, impact may last ‘months’

Five municipalities near the river Loire on the west coast of France have been hit by a “large-scale cyberattack” on their shared computer servers, leaving staff without the ability to access documents or get on with their work.

Services are currently down across Saint-Nazaire, Montoir-de-Bretagne, Donges, La Chapelle-des-marais and Pornichet, according to a statement on the Saint-Nazaire website. Clustered around a seaport, they have a combined population of around 100,000.

Officials have warned local media that recovery may take months. Crisis meetings are being chaired by the mayor of Saint-Nazaire and are currently being held twice a day, at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. France’s cybersecurity agency ANSSI is providing support.

According to the Saint-Nazaire announcement, the attack took place on Tuesday night. Officials at the affected local authorities have no access to their workspaces, files, or business software. Local media reported that when staff arrived on Wednesday morning they were instructed not to turn on their computers and not to use their mobile phones to check their inboxes.

Mayor David Samzun warned the attack will have “significant consequences.” Email and phone systems used by the municipalities are currently down. It is not clear what has been taken down as a security precaution and what services are down as a result of the attack.

The nature of the incident has not been confirmed, nor whether the attackers were able to steal residents’ data. “At this stage, the origin of the cyber attack is unknown, as is the duration of the blockage,” the local authority stated.

The incident follows a ransomware attack on a French township in Brittany back in January which led to the temporary shuttering of all community services.

It comes after data on more than 33 million people in France, approximately half the population, was compromised in a cyberattack at the end of January, according to the country’s privacy watchdog.

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    Alexander Martin

    Alexander Martin

    is the UK Editor for Recorded Future News. He was previously a technology reporter for Sky News and is also a fellow at the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative.