When the city of Marseille almost fell in the face of hackers

The events take place on the night of March 13-14.

The information systems of the Marseille administration is the victim of a large-scale computer attack. The municipality is close to the blackout. Panic is starting to set in. The hackers, who had meticulously prepared their coup, managed to take the city's computer system hostage. To release him, they demand a ransom.

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A classic coup of the ransomware attack. At the time it was possible to read on social networks whether it was Twitter, Instagram or Facebook these kinds of comments:

"Even in cyber space, and after real space, this city manages the feat of demonstrating all its casualness, incapacity, neglect and amateurism. This poor town is in the abyss. commented by juliastephan;

"Bug 2 days before the municipal elections, what chance !!! And in addition with servers located in Ireland then there is the supreme blow ….Not even country, nor even law…. »

Reviewed by Marselle;

"Unsophisticated attack, major security flaws, flapie architecture and completely vulnerable. Here again the same devastating casualness of the city's services (France's second largest city… wow !!!). commented by Souslevercors.

These comments in a few lines could highlight the current state of mind. Everyone was going with their own idea. Some commentators, being from the security sector, have had to criticize the behavior of the specialists of the Marseille administration, including one in particular the name Korbain on Twitter. "Hello, 200 computer scientists to get to this point!!!!! Former IT manager, I find it difficult to understand the neglect of the IT team of the city of Marseille. Indeed, there should be a backup plan that allows a restart at full time at D-1/J-2. How little network team put backups on the same network as production servers. If I had had this kind of problem when I was active, I would have been fired. But in the city of Marseille, I think they will get a bonus for putting the computer system back in place after a month and a half of shutdown… Well also when we hire poster stickers (friends of friends in Gaudin) as computer scientists we have only what we deserve. ». This kind of reaction is easy to understand… Indeed, several negligences have been observed in the management of the system of the Marseille administration. Even if today the worst is over, these kinds of problems can still arise. Especially if the organization doesn't improve. It is for this reason that the French gendarme of computer security, the National Agency for Security of Information Systems (Anssi) keeps warning a prodigal of recommendations at every turn.

The head of the Marseille city hall commented on the event: "Fuck, it was a real stab in the back this story. ». Not used to juggling WhatsApp and Zoom via Microsoft Teams, he admits that this period has been very difficult in terms of work. "We've been through hell, and we're still a long way from it. ». We remember that on March 14, during the day, the hundreds of civil servants in the municipality of Marseille tried in vain to log into their accounts from their homes without success. It was after exchanging with each other that the IT team's engineers automatically suspected a problem of this kind. "There, he quickly realized that we were the target of a huge attack, that everything was being encrypted. He did not hesitate: to make it short, he ripped off the socket, he unplugged everything, in order to limit the damage. ». During this short time, the city of Marseille was close to what can be called a digital blackout.

The entire computer fleet of nearly 6,000 computers and 450 business applications was accessible to regular users. The access had been encrypted. Even the backup of all the data had also been infected by hackers. "Maybe it happened at a time, or two (…) "If the backups had been encrypted, it would have been a disaster and yes, indeed, we might have been forced to pay what we are asked (…) It may have been a thing of an hour or two. A source close to the town hall said. At the moment hackers are making contact, and even offering the decryption of two files for free to prove good faith. But the watchword was not to pay in such conditions, nothing was done. On the other hand, the inhabitants of the Phocaean city were not aware of what was going on. Yet almost all services were no longer working. "At that very moment, to give you only a few examples, none of our services to the population, such as Allô Mairie, were available, we no longer had any schedule of our 12,000 civil servants, and we didn't even have any idea of their remuneration, we had lost the electoral lists for the next day, but also the registration lists of children in nurseries and primary schools for the next school year , we were unable to know which companies we owed money to, just as we no longer knew where the instructions of hundreds of building permits were, the security commissions on buildings at risk, we could no longer register handrails to the municipal police, who could not even train electronic PV as part of compliance with the rules of confinement , it was no longer possible to know, either, what concessions were free in cemeteries and then, in any case, births and deaths could not even be properly registered. ». The source close to Marseille's town hall said.

At the moment everything seems to be gradually getting in order. According to the authorities of the town hall, everything is done to "relaunch each server after combing it because the slightest oversight can revive this shit! ». They predict a full return to normal from May.

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