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France’s cyberdefense chief Adm. Arnaud Coustilliere has claimed that 19,000 websites in France have been targeted since the Charlie Hebdo terrorists attacks in Paris last week.
The Associated Press reports that in the wake of the atrocities that hit France last week that left 20 people dead, a string of attacks have hit a myriad of sites, from “military regiments to pizza shops.”
Coustilliere said that the attacks were mostly minor, and involved denial-of-service (DDoS) designed to make a network unavailable to its users. He did add, however, that the attacks were conducted by “more or less structured” groups, including known Islamic hacker outfits. “It’s the first time that a country has been faced with such a large wave,” he added.
The terrorist attack has given rise to much debate about free speech on the Internet, after the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was targeted by terrorists for posting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
In what can only be described as an ironic move, it was revealed that the E.U. is now considering greater monitoring of the Internet, while the U.K. specifically is using the incident to try and push forward a new “snooping charter” that would effectively ban encrypted communications.
Elsewhere, Mark Zuckerberg weighed in when he claimed that he wouldn’t bow to extremists’ demands to censor Facebook. He was later criticized for double-standards after Facebook removed a post from Pakistani actor Hamza Ali Abbasi, in which he had questioned how the west defines “freedom of expression,” saying that such liberties shouldn’t extend to insulting religious beliefs.
In France, comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala was arrested for a Facebook post he made, one that seemed to suggest a degree of sympathy with one of the Paris gunmen.
While the wave of cyberattacks suffered by France don’t seem to have done too much damage, it’s a sober reminder of the ease with which online properties can be targeted remotely.