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ANSSI consolidates role at heart of French cyber security

French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly addresses the International Cybersecurity Forum (FIC) on 22 January 2019 in Lille, France. At the 2021 iteration of the FIC, Parly announced an increase in the country's recruitment of ‘cyber-combatants'. (Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)

At the International Cybersecurity Forum (Forum International de Cybersécurité: FIC) in Lille on 7 July 2021, French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly announced an additional recruitment effort by the Ministry. In addition to 1,100 new job openings that had already been announced, France will hire a further 770 experts, reaching nearly 5,200 ‘cyber-combatants' by 2025.

In parallel, President Emmanuel Macron's 21 February 2021 announcement of a EUR1 billion (USD1.15 billion) National Cybersecurity Acceleration Plan, which is part of the Covid-19 European stimulus package (‘France Relance'), provides an additional EUR136 million to strengthen government cyber security across the private and public sectors – including EUR25 million dedicated to the health sector – under the auspices of the National Information Systems Security Agency (Agence nationale de la sécurité des systèmes d'information: ANSSI). This will come on top of the agency's annual budget, which in 2020 was EUR21 million according to the agency's Activity Report 2020 , payroll excluded.

Along with the socio-economic shock of the Covid-19 pandemic came a wave of cyber attacks. A ‘ransomware pandemic' provoked chaos in already overwhelmed hospitals around the world, putting patients' lives at risk. France was no exception, with, for example, the Villefranche-sur-Saône hospital complex hit by the ‘Ryuk' ransomware attack on 9 February 2021. In its 2020–21 annual report, ANSSI estimated that a ransomware attack hits the health sector every week.

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