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The data of half of France's population has been stolen in its biggest ever cyber attack

The data of half of France's population has been stolen in its biggest ever

A massive cyber attack, the largest ever recorded in French history, has caused the data of half the French population to be stolen, putting 33 million people at risk.

Two companies - Viamedis and Almerys - service providers for medical insurance companies - were targeted in a cyber attack that happened five days apart in early February.

According to the first provider, Viamedis, hackers used doctors' access to access the system.

Almerys said the hackers had not breached the central system, but had accessed a portal used by health professionals.

The two providers have filed complaints with the prosecutor's office and an investigation is underway on the case.

Over 33 million people – just under half of the French population – were affected by the data breach, which included details such as "marital status, date of birth and social security number, name of health insurer and cover provided by the policy .

The French data protection authority (CNIL) assured that bank details, medical data, postal addresses, telephone numbers or e-mails were not part of the attack.

"This is the first time there has been a breach on such a scale," said Yann Padova, a lawyer specializing in digital data protection and former secretary general of the French data protection authority.

According to Padova, this is "the biggest breach of security in France".