French Hackers Learn to Cash In on EU’s New Data Protection Rules

The first month since EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force has seen a new wave of cyber fraud in France. Rogues appear to be taking advantage of common fears of state penalties and are increasingly gouging money out of enterprises.

credit: sputniknews


The regulation, effective since May 25, oversees new rules of the handling and spread of personal data and stipulates staggering fines if the regulation is not observed. This notably plays into hackers’ hands, as by threatening to publish sensitive data, they force companies to pay them directly. The latter are more likely to covertly pay hackers than pay fines to the French regulator, the National Commission for Computer Science and Freedoms (Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés.)

“They hack a company’s IT system and threaten with massive data leaks to demonstrate that the company mishandles data,” said Charles Préaux, founder and director of Cyber Protection Engineering School at the Higher National School for Engineers of the University of Southern Brittany (École Nationale Supérieure d’Ingénieurs de Bretagne-Sud – ENSIBS), in an interview with Sputnik.

He went on to note that harmful software, or in simpler terms, new viruses, pop up in the cyberspace every four seconds, adding that taking into account how much time, effort, money and human labor goes in to detecting, analyzing and coming up with counter-measures to the viruses, it stands to reason that “hackers enjoy an incredible advantage over us.”

Yannick Harrel, professor and cyber strategy specialist and author of several books on cyberspace, has also chimed in on the debate, noting that hackers are perfectly aware of enterprises, including small, medium and big businesses, being unready to fully apply the new GDP Regulation.

The corporate sector’s fears appear to be quite justified, though. In one of most recent incidents, the French data protection authority CNIL announced a decision to impose a whopping 250,000 euro fine on Optical Center, a French company selling eye and hearing aids, following its failure to secure the data of customers that had ordered products on its website. The fine is the highest penalty, according to HelpNetSecurity website, ever issued by French authorities for a security breach — and it happened before the GDPR came into force. The latter stipulates even higher fines, which are up to 4 percent of a company’s annual global turnover.

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