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Economy

France has most cybercrime victims in Europe

media Who's watching him? Industrial Recovery Minister Arnaud Montebourg uses his smartphone AFP

The French suffer more from cybercrime than any other Europeans, computer security company Symantec has found. And French companies need to take urgent action to protect themselves from fraud and espionage on the internet, the head of the national cybersecurity agency warns.

The security company Symantec reported 41 per cent of French smartphone users have been victims of criminal acts in the past year compared to 29 per cent in Europe and 38 per cent worldwide.

The company also observed a 52 per cent increase last year in the number of false text messages, apps and advertising luring users to divulge personal information.

Half of French mobile phone users do not know how to use an antivirus or protect their password, Symantec’s chief security strategist Laurent Heslault, speaking from a cybersecurity conference in Monaco this week, told RFI.

A Symantec poll also found that 43 per cent of French websurfers are connected to people they don’t know on social networks and four out of 10 social network participants admit giving their password to other people, compared to 38 per cent throughout Europe and 31 per cent worldwide.

Part of the explanation is that France has a higher level of connection to the web thanks to cheap subscriptions, Heslault says.

At the same conference the boss of the French state’s cybersecurity agency, ANSSI, declared that the “survival of the nation” depends on French companies to “act quickly” to protect themselves from cybercrime and internet spying.

Electronic communications have become “the nervous system of our nations”, Patrick Pailloux said, opening the 13th annual meeting on security and information systems, and “the survival of our nation now more and more depends on the correct functioning of crucial services”.

Energy and water supply, food security and the health service increasingly use the internet but nobody has paid attention to the danger of hostile actions, he said

Disconnecting computerised machinery from the internet and encrypting commands were among the courses of action Pailloux recommended.

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