Nineteen thousand French websites have been attacked since the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks last week, according to French military head of cyberdefense Adm. Arnaud Coustilliere. The attacks have been carried out by a variety of hackers, including “more or less structured groups” and some well-known Islamic groups, Coustilliere said.
Most have been minor DDoS attacks, carried out on sites for everything from military regiments to pizza shops.
“What’s new, what’s important, is that this is 19,000 sites — that’s never been seen before,” the Associated Press quoted Coustilliere as saying. “This is the first time that a country has been faced with such a large wave of cyber-contestation.”
The Huffington Post published a story earlier this week on Algerian hackers attacking French sites in response to the publication of offensive images by the French magazine. Those hackers included members of a group called Anonymous Algeria, though the similarly named group Anonymous explicitly expressed support for Charlie Hebdo while vowing to disrupt terrorist websites.
Coustilliere characterized the attacks as a response to the public outpouring of support for free speech and the victims of the attack.
Arbor Networks counted 1,070 DDoS attacks in a 24 hour period this week, CBC said. For comparison, Arbor says the US hosts 30 times more sites and suffered four times more attacks, meaning French sites are roughly 750 percent more likely to be attacked.
Jihadist hackers also hacked US military social media accounts on Monday, and the intersection of hacking with the revived “war on terror” promises to further muddy a whole raft of long awaited regulatory reforms related to internet communication and security.
The European Union and UK have both suggested more monitoring of internet communication is necessary since the attacks.