C’est la cyber

France is creating a dedicated cybersecurity campus in Paris

The French government is finalizing its plans to create a cybersecurity campus to help strengthen the ties between the country’s public and private sectors.

Announced to the public at last month’s Forum International de la Cybersécurité (FIC) in Lille, the Campus Cyber project aims to create an ecosystem of cybersecurity experts in the Paris area.

The idea is to bolster France’s cyber capabilities, both for safety and to embolden its rising digital economy.

France should be leading the cybersecurity industry in Europe, said Guillaume Poupard, director of ANSSI, the country’s cyber awareness body.

“We have a role to play in the cohesion of the French cyber ecosystem. This is the priority for me,” Poupard said at the conference in January.

“The cyber campus is a major project that we need to keep moving forward.”

Campus Cyber

Based on Israel’s CyberSpark [non-HTTPS link] venture in Beer Sheva, the Campus Cyber project will provide a platform for multistakeholder collaboration, particularly around incident response. 

“One of the main issues today is that the information about [cyber] incidents needs to be communicated quickly and at scale to trusted people,” Gérôme Billois, part of the incident response team at Wavestone, one of the larger companies that aims to join the campus in 2021, told The Daily Swig.

“If you don’t have cooperation, attackers can hit multiple targets at the same time, with the same tools, and the same procedures.”

“It’s very important to share information in order to react quickly,” he added.

According to the FBI’s 2019 Internet Crime Report (PDF), France is fifth most targeted country for digital malfeasance internationally, falling between Australia and Belgium in terms of the number of victims reported.

Billois said that the creation of the new cyber campus would mean improved cybercrime investigations, where effective measures can be taken based on the dialogue formed between participating private and public companies.

“If we see one attack, you have one piece of the puzzle,” he explained. “But if you see 15, you have a better picture and can find out why they're doing it and how.”

Public-private collaboration

The Campus Cyber project has been in the works since 2019, and falls in line with the French government’s vision to increase its cybersecurity posture through private-public partnerships.

“The idea here is to have a place where all the big players in the incident response field would work together,” Billois said.

Representatives from academia and French start-ups will also be invited to join the campus, which is expected to offer 700 places, Billois said.

“In France, we really don’t have a place that could embody cyber innovation,” he added.

“We always see cybersecurity as only a tool to protect ourselves, but it could be a way to develop our economy.”

Major French companies such as Thales, BNP-Paribas, and Orange are earmarked to be involved in the project. A feasibility study (PDF), which includes interviews with relevant parties, was published in January.

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