Cybercrime , Fraud Management & Cybercrime

France's OFAC to Tackle Cyberthreats Ahead of Olympics

French Police Office for Cybercrime Has a Staff of 180
France's OFAC to Tackle Cyberthreats Ahead of Olympics
France's Office for Cybercrime aims to fight hacking and facilitate information sharing. (Image: Shutterstock)

A dedicated cybercrime unit under the French National Police is set to scale up operations ahead of the upcoming Olympics as authorities warn cyberattacks are among the greatest threat to the event.

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The new agency - the French Anti-Cybercrime Office, or OFAC - operating under the National Directorate of the Judicial Police, aims to address online fraud and facilitate intelligence sharing between French and international law enforcement agencies.

Authorities on Friday unveiled the unit's new headquarters in Parisian suburb Nanterre, telling local media it commenced its operations with a staff of 180. The agency, which began operations in December, already assisted with the arrest of a suspected member of the now-defunct Hive ransomware group.

The agency aims to scale its operations by creating cybercrime units for each French territorial department within the next three years. It already has created 18 branches in departments including Strasbourg, Marseille and Bordeaux, Le Point reported.

OFAC, which comes under the Ministry of Interior, replaces the sub-directorate for the fight against cybercrime, or the SDLC, and the central office to combat information and communication technology crime, or the OCLCTIC. The office is headed by Nicolas Guidoux.

"Ofac has four missions: investigate, educate, detect and inform," Guidoux said in a Jan. 13 tweet. "The role of Ofac as a police service is to identify cybercrime perpetrators, arrest them, and to refer them to justice, as well as to prevent cyber criminals from being able to profit from the fruit of their actions."

The office's creation comes as France prepares to host the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. The executive director of police services at Interpol said Friday that cyberattacks, including disrupting ticket purchase systems or hacking internal systems, will be the "greatest enduring or constant threat" to the event, which is slated to be held from July 26 to Aug. 11.

Guidoux urged the French citizens to report ransomware attacks and fraud such as romance scams to the government's anonymous reporting platform, Thesee.

OFAC will work with the French military, customs, competition and consumer affairs, as well as with state offices, to lead national and internal investigations into cybercrime conducted over electronic telecommunication systems.

The agency will also focus on intelligence collection and sharing with international law enforcement agencies to track down illicit cybercrime proceeds laundered through crypto assets.

In recent months, there has been a spike in ransomware and attacks on France's critical infrastructure. A recent report from cybersecurity firm Malwarebytes said France remained the fifth-most-targeted country by ransomware attackers, recording 108 attacks between 2022 and 2023.

Notable cases include the LockBit ransomware group's attack on French postal company La Poste, in which the group made an initial ransom demand of $1.4 million, and an attack on Centre Hospitalier Sud Francilien near Paris in which hackers demanded $10 million in ransom.

About the Author

Akshaya Asokan

Akshaya Asokan

Senior Correspondent, ISMG

Asokan is a U.K.-based senior correspondent for Information Security Media Group's global news desk. She previously worked with IDG and other publications, reporting on developments in technology, minority rights and education.

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