Two massive data breaches in France have impacted roughly half the nation’s population. The data of an estimated 33 million people has been compromised, making this the country’s largest-ever data breach.
Attackers targeted two French healthcare payment service providers, Viamedis and Almerys. Both companies manage third-party payments for health insurance in France. According to the CNIL, (Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés) France’s data protection agency, data was compromised during two separate breaches that struck in early February.
From a statement issued by the CNIL, affected records of policyholders and their families include:
- Marital status.
- Date of birth and social security number.
- The name of the health insurer, as well as the guarantees of the contract.
The CNIL further stated that data such as banking info, medical data, health reimbursements, postal details, telephone numbers, and emails were not swept up by the breaches.
What’s at stake with the French data breach?
The concern with this breach, as with any other, is how this breached info might get combined with info from other breaches. Taken together, bad actors might use that combined info to conduct follow-on attacks, including identity theft.
As such, the CNIL suggests the following for policyholders:
- Be wary of any requests you might receive, particularly if they concern reimbursement of health costs.
- Periodically check the activities and movements on your various accounts.
In the meantime, the CNIL stated that it’s investigating the attack further, particularly to determine whether the security measures in place were in line with European data standards and obligations.
What can I do if I think my info was caught up in the French data breach?
Any time a data breach occurs, it means that your personal info might end up in the hands of a bad actor. In light of this, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself in the aftermath of a data breach, which involves a combination of preventative steps and some monitoring on your part.
Report unauthorized use of your info or accounts immediately.
As noted by the CNIL, keep an eye on your account. If you note any unusual activity, notify Viamedis or Almerys immediately.
Keep an eye out for phishing attacks.
With some personal info in hand, bad actors might seek out more. They might follow up a breach with rounds of phishing attacks that direct you to bogus sites designed to steal your personal info. So it’s always wise to keep a skeptical eye open for unsolicited messages that ask you for info, often in ways that urge or pressure you into acting. Always look out for phishing attacks, particularly after breaches.
With that, you can look into McAfee Scam Protection. It uses AI that detects suspicous links in email, texts, and social media messages. Further, it can block risky sites if you accidentally click or tap a link.
Change your passwords and use a password manager.
While it doesn’t appear that login info was affected, a password update is still a strong security move. Strong and unique passwords are best, which means never reusing your passwords across different sites and platforms. Using a password manager will help you keep on top of it all, while also storing your passwords securely. Moreover, changing your passwords regularly might make a stolen password worthless because it’s out of date.
Enable two-factor authentication.
While a strong and unique password is a good first line of defense, enabling two-factor authentication across your accounts will help your cause by providing an added layer of security. It’s increasingly common to see nowadays, where banks and all manner of online services only allow access to your accounts after you’ve provided a one-time passcode sent to your email or smartphone. If your accounts support two-factor authentication, enable it.
Consider using identity monitoring.
Breached and stolen info often ends up in dark web marketplaces where hackers, scammers, and thieves purchase it to commit yet more crime. Once it was difficult to know if your info was caught up in such marketplaces, yet now an Identity Monitoring service can do the detective work for you.
McAfee’s service monitors the dark web for your personal info, including email, government IDs, health IDs, credit card and bank account info, and more. This can help keep your personal info safe with early alerts that show you if your data is found on the dark web, an average of 10 months ahead of similar services. From there, you’ll get guidance that you can act on, which can help protect your info and accounts from potential theft.
We also offer identity restoration services through our McAfee+ Ultimate subscriptions. Identity restoration includes access to experts who can help generate an effective and efficient plan to quickly restore your identity, so you don’t have to tackle the issue by yourself.
Consider using comprehensive online protection.
A complete suite of online protection software can offer layers of extra security. It offers you the tools and services listed above, along with further features that can protect you online. That includes a VPN to keep your time online more private from online data collection while protecting it from thieves who’re out to steal credit card and account info. It also includes web browsing protection that can warn you of sketchy websites and malicious downloads that look to steal your info. In all, it’s thorough protection for your devices, privacy, and identity. And in a time of data breaches, that kind of protection has become essential.
The French data breach and the breaches to come — you have ways to protect yourself.
Whether you’re a French citizen or not, word of this data breach offers an opportunity to bolster your defenses. Major breaches like these occur, just as we saw with the Facebook breach in 2021, the PayPal breach in 2023, and the 23andMe breach, also in 2023. Taking preventative steps now can put you a step ahead of the next one.
Of those steps, using comprehensive online protection software is the strongest. Protection like ours safeguards your privacy, identity, and devices in breadth and depth — protecting you from data breaches and all manner of scams and attacks that often follow them.
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