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France Faces 19,000 Cyberattacks Since Terror Rampage

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Hackers have targeted about 19,000 French websites since a rampage by Islamic extremists left 20 dead last week, France's cyberdefense official said Thursday, as the president tried to calm the nation's inflamed religious tensions. France is on edge since last week's attacks, which began Jan. 7 at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The paper, repeatedly threatened for its caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, was burying several of its slain staff members Thursday. Calling it an unprecedented surge, Adm. Arnaud Coustilliere, head of cyberdefense for the French military, said about 19,000 French websites had faced cyberattacks in recent days, some carried out by well-known Islamic hacker groups. The attacks, mostly relatively minor denial-of-service attacks, hit sites as varied as military regiments to pizza shops but none appeared to have caused serious damage, he said. "What's new, what's important, is that this is 19,000 sites — that's never been seen before," Coustilliere said. "This is the first time that a country has been faced with such a large wave of cyber-contestation." Coustilliere called the attacks a response to the massive demonstrations against terrorism that drew 3.7 million people into the streets Sunday across France. He pointed to "more or less structured groups" that used tactics like posting symbols of jihadist groups on companies' Web sites.

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--- The Associated Press

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