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CRIME

‘Public safety is really bad in France’

An angry Chinese film producer had some harsh words to say about France this week, suggesting the country had a problem with public safety and arrogance after being the victim of a burglary at the Cannes Film Festival.

'Public safety is really bad in France'
French police outside the Novotel where €1 million worth of jewellery was stolen last week. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

As the darker side of Cannes Film Festival reared its ugly head once again a Chinese film producer has blasted France for its “really bad” level of public safety after he was the victim of a burglary.

Zhang Qiang expressed his outrage on his blog just days after the apartment he was renting in the resort was targeted by thieves.

The vice president of the powerful state conglomerate China Film Company discovered the apartment he had hired out for the festival had been targeted when he returned home from dinner last Thursday.

The angry producer was not just unhappy at having his belongings stolen but also appeared cheesed off with the attitude shown by the managers at the Pierre et Vacances-run complex.

“The hotel management has proved indifferent and asked me to call the police myself, saying they could only change the lock. They did not even want to look at the apartment,” Qiang said.

“Public safety in France is really bad and in the face of such arrogance, I would think twice about coming to the festival,” he said.

After his angry outburst became the talk of the town in Cannes, festival organizers, authorities and the directors of the hotel chain Pierre et Vacances all issued apologies, French daily Le Parisien reported.

It is not the first time security issues have marred the festival this year. On Friday thieves stole Chopard jewellery worth up to €1 million from a safe in a room at the Novotel hotel.

In a scenario itself worthy of a movie, thieves entered the hotel room of an American woman employee of Swiss bijoutier Chopard and ripped out the strongbox in the wardrobe, according to police reports.

And later that night a man armed with a gun loaded with blanks and a false grenade was arrested after he fired in the air during the shooting of a French TV programme.

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CRIME

Hackers post French hospital patient data online

Hackers who crippled a French hospital and stole a trove of data last month have released personal records of patients online, officials have confirmed.

Hackers post French hospital patient data online

The cyberattackers demanded a multimillion dollar ransom from the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital near Paris a month ago, but the institution refused to pay.

The hospital said the hackers had now dumped medical scans and lab analyses along with the social security numbers of patients.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the unspeakable disclosure of hacked data,” health minister François Braun tweeted on Sunday.

Hospitals around the world have been facing increasing attacks from ransomware groups, particularly since the pandemic stretched resources to breaking point.

The problem has been acute in France, where officials estimated early last year that healthcare institutions were facing on average an attack every week.

President Emmanuel Macron last year called the attacks during the pandemic a “crisis within a crisis” and announced an extra one billion euros for cybersecurity.

During last month’s attack, the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital shut down its emergency services and sent many patients to other institutions.

At one point, officials said the only technology still working was the telephone.

Rather than selling the trove of data, the hacker has dumped at least some of it for download on the “dark web” — a hidden part of the internet that requires special software to access.

Analysts said it seemed to be a tactic to put pressure on the hospital, even though public institutions are banned by French law from paying ransoms.

Cybersecurity researcher Damien Bancal, who revealed the leak and has seen the files, told AFP the worry is that other criminals will now launch scams with the data that has already been divulged.

In response to the leak on the weekend, the hospital severely restricted access to its systems and told patients to be extremely vigilant when receiving emails, text messages or phone calls.

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