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Cybersecurity Research: A French Asset and a Necessity for Digital Sovereignty (By Bruno Sportisse, CEO of Inria and President of Allistene)

2018/12/28

On an extremely competitive international landscape, France stands as a leading country in cybersecurity, with pre-eminent industrial services and solutions as well as research. It enjoys particular recognition on a European level thanks to its place as a technical and strategic driver of road maps and skills networks. Today, massive efforts being rolled out in this field by other countries such as the United States, China and even Germany are challenging France’s leadership.

The French Alliance of Digital Sciences and Technologies (Allistene) has prepared a precise map (https://www.allistene.fr/files/2018/03/VF_cartographie_2017-06-13.pdf) that offers quantitative and qualitative assessments of cybersecurity skills on a nationwide level.  More than a thousand scientists are working in the public sector of higher education and research (the domain of the Alliance). A substantial R&D workforce is also active in other public organisations (with, for example, the French National Cybersecurity Agency [ANSSI] and the Information Management Centre of the French Defence Procurement Agency [DGA]) as well as industrial organisations.  France is poised at the cutting edge of academic research on cryptographic primitives and protocols in hardware security. It also benefits from excellent positioning in the field of formal methods and tools to assess the security of increasingly complex and interconnected digital systems. These things enable the construction of modular components for security with end-to-end verification.  Allistene’s study also highlights the existence of significant research activity in the detection and remediation of cyberattacks, which allows operational management of cybersecurity throughout the life cycle of objects.

The French ecosystem is remarkably well placed to rise to the challenge of sustainable cybersecurity.  Securing France’s major infrastructure and connected objects amounts to more than a necessary undertaking to preserve the country’s security and digital sovereignty. It represents a real opportunity to transform French academic and industrial breakthroughs into a substantial and sustainable asset for France’s companies and institutions — all while increasing citizens’ trust in digital technology.

The FIC will bring together Allistene scientists from across the research community, including representatives of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the French Conference of University Presidents (CPU), the Conference of Deans of French Schools of Engineering (CDEFI), Institut Mines-Télécom (IMT) and the French National Research Institute for the Digital Sciences (Inria). Allistene’s participation in the FIC is to feature a number of researchers who will present around 30 demonstrations of completed projects and some of their results. Inria will also present its white paper on cybersecurity there. In addition, several master classes will be organised and a meeting will be held on the attainment of research objectives between Europe and Japan.