Internet users in France warned about bilingual cyber scam

Internet users in France have been warned against a "half French, half English" hacking scam which has been tricking people out of cash across the country.

Internet users in France warned about bilingual cyber scam
Photo: AFP
The scam works by opening a window on your screen warning that the computer is blocked and private information is at risk, reported French consumer magazine 60 million du consommateurs
The window asks the user to contact a help number where they can speak to someone who will unblock the computer for a fee. In addition to the text, a “half French, half English” warning is played as a voice message when the window opens.

The number of such instances has been on the rise in recent months and several regional newspapers have reported similar stories.

One of the victims of the cyber attack told 60 million du consommateurs that she spoke to a man who told her the problem was very serious, using the term “level 5 attack”.
He then told her that for €149.90 the problem could be solved. Once she agreed, he took remote control of her computer for 45 minutes, before telling her the virus was gone. But five days later, €450 disappeared from her bank account.
“It’s really a simple window. The computer is neither infected nor blocked,” François-Xavier Masson, the head of the France's organisation to counter cyber crime OCLCTIC, told 60 million du consommateurs.
“The victim will either pay for a service that is useless, or in a worst case scenario the scammers will encourage the victim to download software that will take control of his device or even steal personal data from him. Smartphones are also the target of these unscrupulous companies.”
Computer users are advised to turn off their computers immediately if they believe they have been the victim of a scam.

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Hospital in south west France hit by cyber-attack demanding $50,000 ransom

A hospital in southwest France has seen some of its IT systems paralysed by a "ransomware" cyberattack, its management said on Tuesday, the third such incident in the last month.

Hospital in south west France hit by cyber-attack demanding $50,000 ransom
Hospital staff were unable to access patient records after the cyberattack. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

The 320-bed facility in Oloron-Sainte-Marie near the Pyrenees mountains was hit by the attack on Monday, with screens displaying a demand in English for $50,000 in Bitcoin.

Hospital workers have had to revert to working with pens and paper, since digital patient records are not available.

The management system, used to monitor medicine stocks and other supplies, has also been affected at a time when the hospital is taking part in vaccination efforts against Covid-19.

“We might get our systems back in 48 hours or in three months,” hospital director Frederic Lecenne told local newspaper La Republique des Pyrenees.

He said personnel had disconnected some computers from the internet and the hospital’s network to try to limit the spread of the ransomware.

In February, hospitals in Dax in southwest France and in Villefranche-sur-Saône in the southeastern Rhone region were subjected to ransomware attacks, while in 2019 a hospital in northern Rouen was also hit.

“Ransomware” attacks see criminals infiltrate and paralyse a target’s IT systems, then demand payments in order to restore them.