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March 7, 2011

The French government has shut down the Internet connections to thousands of Finance Ministry computers after being hit by a wide-ranging cyberattack.

A keyboard with lock
The attacks on ministry computers began in DecemberImage: picture-alliance/chromorange

France has taken up to 10,000 government computers offline after some 150 were hit by a large-scale cyberattack.

Hackers were allegedly searching for documents relating to the country's year-long leadership of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies.

French Budget Minister Francois Baroin told Europe 1 radio that the "spectacular" attack was "probably the first time" the government had been hit by a cyberattack of this scale.

News agency AFP reported that the attacks targeted Finance Ministry email accounts and servers.

He said "it was the information about the G20 that interested the hackers," adding that a probe was underway and that investigators already had several leads in the case.

Paris Match magazine reported Monday that the attacks had been ongoing since December.

A senior official who declined to be named told the magazine's website that pirated documents had been redirected to Chinese Internet addresses.

France assumed the G20 rotating presidency in November.

Author: Darren Mara (AP, AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler