Earlier this week, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian issue a nationwide warning on cyberattacks, stating that major civil infrastructure providers including electricity, water, transport and telecommunication firms may face security issues in the near future.

The announcement of Le Drian came after the Ministry of Defense of France reported that it effectively prevented and blocked over 24,000 external attacks in the past year. Le Drian described most of these attacks as sophisticated hacking attempts. He warned important infrastructure providers to be aware of the increasing number of cyber attacks and to be ready to deal with data threats.

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“We should not be naive [thinking France could not face a cyber attack]… The number of cyber attacks against my ministry doubles every year. In 2016, about 24,000 external attacks had been blocked by our security services,” Le Drian said in an interview with French weekly Journal du Dimanche.

Le Drian noted that the cyber security market and the number of cybersecurity specialists are increasing at an exponential rate and that industry leaders must use the growth of the cybersecurity market to their advantage.

By 2019, the Ministry of Defense predicts the number of cybersecurity specialists to double, surpassing 2,600. In consideration of the magnitude and intensity of attacks the ministry and other government agencies have faced in the past year, Le Drian emphasized the importance of facilitating the growth of the cybersecurity market and imposing necessary security measures for infrastructure providers.

Particularly for civil infrastructure providers, the imposition and implementation of high-level security measures is vital as they store sensitive personal and financial information of millions of consumers nationwide.

Electricity and water providers facilitate the storage and distribution of essentially the entire French population’s personal data, which can be extremely valuable if hacked, breached and sold to third party institutions that may use that information in illicit criminal activities.

Over the past two years organizations including Duo reported that one in three Americans were affected by security breaches of state-supported service providers like healthcare companies. Thus, the French MInistry believes infrastructure providers must improve security measures and their IT infrastructure with a sense of urgency.

Various security threats including ransomware attacks have proven to cost large-scale institutions hundreds of thousands of dollars when they successfully penetrate IT systems and infect certain databases or servers. Specifically for infrastructure providers that hold data of millions of people, a ransomware lockdown of user data can be fatal and could ultimately cost the government millions of dollars in ransom payments to save user information.

As such, the Ministry of Defense of France believes it is time for both state-supported organizations and commercial corporations to lead major improvements in their infrastructures and security systems to prevent the loss of data in the future.