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  • Thierry Spanjaard

Governments get involved in cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a global issue and, in spite of numerous messages propelled by the private sector, governments were not always fast enough in their reactions. Of course, the situation is different place to place. The US, Russia, Israel, and probably also China and Iran, are known for the collaboration between the public and the private sectors when it comes to cybersecurity.

Europeans, both for regulatory reasons and for deeply-rooted beliefs in the respective roles of the public and private sector have often been less proactive. This may be evolving under the increasing pressure of cyberattacks and the fact that decision makers realize that there is a need for a better interaction between all stakeholders.

Taking the US, Israel and Germany as models, the French government now understands the role of cybersecurity in sovereignty and includes it among its priorities, as we need to build more resilient systems against cyberattacks.

Actions include a Strategic Committee for the Security Industry, which aims at structuring exchanges between government bodies and small and large companies. Development lines identified by this committee include cybersecurity and IoT security, as well as digital identity. Large industry players such as Thales and Idemia are present along with SMEs and public bodies such as ANSSI, the French National Agency for the Security of Information Systems.

A Cyber Campus is being set up, in La Defense, near Paris, that will host large and small companies in order to foster collaboration. The Cyber Campus will include education and communication along with support to innovation, and operations such as bringing together the cyberanalysis community and the creation of a common threat intelligence database.

The Great Cybersecurity Challenge – “Grand Défi Cyber” – aims at supporting the development of innovative technologies thanks to the research and development in disruptive technologies. The Great Cybersecurity Challenge efforts are focused on three axes: dynamic networks, connected objects and the protection of small structures against cybercrime. The first step consists in an allocation of EUR 8.6 million to the 11 laureates of the first step of the challenge. Several among these companies are well known in our secure transactions industry: Tiempo Secure specializes in the development of security intellectual property (IP) in microelectronics and in embedded software; Wallix protects identities and access to IT infrastructure, applications and data; proposes software to address security issues in industrial IoT markets; Oodrive brings solutions to increase security in our digital workplace; Harfanglab develops an endpoint detection and response; and Sekoia specializes in threat intelligence.

The commitment of the government is undoubtedly fueled by the increasing number of cybersecurity breaches. Several hospitals, already hardly hit by the Covid-19 crisis, are facing larger-scale ransomware attacks. Also, it has recently been revealed that hackers had taken advantage of a vulnerability in monitoring software sold by French group Centreon to many large blue-chip companies.

France, and more generally Europe, has the foundations to become a leader in cybersecurity and to play on an even field with other powers in this world. Let’s hope these projects that involve a large combination of public and private players will remain dynamic and be able to deliver fast and efficient results while structuring the industry in order to be more resilient for future battles.

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