The French Parliamentarians Raise Concerns Over Cyberattacks Linked to China

The French Parliamentarians Raise Concerns Over Cyberattacks Linked to China

A recent report reveals that a group of French parliamentarians has expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of cyberattacks aimed at their computers, which have been attributed to China. The members received virus-infected emails in 2021 from a hacker group known as APT31, believed to have ties to the Chinese government. This issue is of particular concern given the upcoming state visit to France by Chinese President Xi Jinping, highlighting China’s efforts to strengthen political and economic relationships in Europe as a counterbalance to strained relations with the United States.

Olivier Cadic, a centrist member of the French Senate, described the situation as “wide-ranging foreign interference by China,” prompting unease among the targeted parliamentarians. These individuals are part of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), which aims to address the threat posed by China’s policies to democratic values. Despite being informed about the cyberattacks in March of this year, the French parliamentarians found themselves in a challenging position, especially after the US Justice Department indicted seven Chinese nationals allegedly associated with the Chinese government for similar malicious emails sent to US and foreign critics of China.

Former senator Andre Gattolin, a previous co-president of IPAC’s French branch, raised concerns about the lack of attention from French authorities when he reported the cyberattacks. Despite submitting a police complaint and seeking assistance from US law enforcement, including the FBI, Gattolin felt ignored by French agencies responsible for cybersecurity and counterespionage. The issue has sparked doubts about the competency of the National Agency for the Security of Information Systems (ANSSI) and the anti-espionage agency DGSI, as the parliamentarians felt neglected and ill-informed about the threats posed by APT31.

The handling of the cyberattacks by French authorities has been criticized as “lightweight” by deputy Anne Genetet, who expressed disbelief that she was the only parliamentarian targeted. With little to no information provided by the Paris prosecutors’ office or other relevant agencies, the lack of transparency regarding the investigation into the cyberattacks has left the parliamentarians feeling vulnerable and exposed to potential security breaches. Despite government spokeswoman Prisca Thevenot’s assurance of monitoring APT31, parliamentarian Cadic emphasized the severity of the situation, highlighting the urgent need to address the cyber threats posed by China’s state-sponsored hacker groups.

The French parliamentarians’ concerns regarding cyberattacks linked to China reveal a significant gap in the government’s response to foreign interference and cybersecurity threats. The lack of coordination and communication between the targeted individuals and relevant authorities has exposed vulnerabilities within the French political landscape, raising questions about the adequacy of existing cybersecurity measures. As technology continues to advance and cyber threats evolve, it is imperative for governments to prioritize the protection of critical infrastructure and sensitive information from malicious actors, both foreign and domestic..setCancelable(true)

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