"I have to tell you…"
Guillaume Poupard, ANSSI Director General, opened the 19th edition of Les Assises de la Sécurité et des Systèmes d’Information held in Paris last October. He insisted on the need for ecosystems to undergo a digital transition in the field of cyber-security.
During his inaugural conference, the Director General of Les Assises refused to speak of war in cybersecurity "although the situation is confrontational due to the aggressiveness of certain nations". This has consequences for the operation of nations, for the economy and for our fellow citizens. "The situation is serious", stated Guillaume Poupard.
A collective cyber security transformation
Major cyber security actors are not being heard. A generalised digital transition is necessary. Technological complexity requires a rapid transformation. "All ecosystems have to be made aware of digital security problems", he adds. This race to computer security is a perpetual marathon. Players have to transform as a group in order to remain in the lead.
Foundation work in recent decades aiming to strengthen cyber security in France is good and must be strengthened. This is the case of several examples of collaborations between the private sector and some government departments. "Alchemy works", exults Guillaume Poupard. The public and private sectors are working together to demonstrate the existence of a "good French model".
Many of the approaches are effective, such as OIV (Operator of vital importance) and OSE (Operator of essential service) regulations. Resources are being used well by public and private structures.
Innovation and collaboration with other ecosystems at the heart of the projects
Cyber security is of major concern for companies and institutions. To resolve this issue, collaboration must be at the heart of projects.
A cyber campus is in the works
Projects underway in France include the creation of a cyber campus, a formula that already exists with foreign partners. This campus would allow public and private players, start-ups, researchers and teachers to work on the secure digital transition. ANSSI is a stakeholder in this project and three large French industries – Orange, Thalès and Atos – have already joined. Now, to find a place to establish the campus…
Creating synergy on the issue of open source
Guillaume Poupard insists that "we need to look for energies". We need to communicate around open source cyber security products, such as the ORC toolbox, which makes it possible to respond to cyber incidents. The same is true of the OpenCTI (Open Cyber Threat Intelligence) tool that cyber security players use to analyse cyber threats.
The tools are shared unless there is a good reason not to do so. These free-to-use tools offer the opportunity to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of cyber security professionals. The results are mixed: in prevention and training, digital players know where they are going.
Responses to incidents are efficient. The Achilles heel of cyber security is detecting attackers who can lay low for a long time before a bold attack, while causing a great deal of damage in the meantime.
Raising awareness and training the general public in digital security
Information and technologies security professionals have to avoid remaining amongst themselves, instead learning about other areas.
They must be vigilant to avoid sealing themselves off; an error committed in artificial intelligence. But the most important question affects the public. "How do we develop good computer habits?," wonders Guillaume Poupard, "People still don’t always wash their hands."
ANSSI now wants to get its message on file backups and passwords across using humorous campaigns instead of an anxiety-creating or moralistic tone.
Young people have to remember two keywords on digital security: training and education. The Ministry of Education is getting in on the action: "The message will get through with ecosystems, not necessarily the less reluctant," notes Guillaume Poupard. In the past few months, the Ministry of Education has been working on this area.
What is the message, and when should teachers talk to students? National universal service (which replaces military conscription) already contains modules on cyber issues. Last, good digital transition training includes play, with ANSSI sending a team of trained young people for a European cyber challenge.
Beyond the fun aspect, the event helps establish informal European cooperation and open professional careers in the IT sector.
2020: A year of intense reflection for ANSSI
In France, in addition to the cyber campus project, a structure of the Ministry of the Armed Forces dedicated to cyber security is being developed in the city of Rennes. The issue is crucial for France which must show its strength. "We may be a small country, but we are one of the big players," states Guillaume Poupard. Another positive point: the cyber issue is back in force in Europe, so there is reason for optimism as it becomes a tool for certain diplomatic topics.
As for the international scene, while there are some obstacles, other areas are positive. Discussions have resumed at the United Nations. There is true awareness of cyber security. A year after the call from Paris, cyberspace must be put in order. The 450 signatories have to integrate digital security issues. Most of all, those who have not signed the call have to be identified.
Anxiety-provoking messages are no longer effective. We need to assist those attacking the issue of cyber security. Professionals must step in, sell cyber security and provide solutions. "Those who insist on being Apostles of the Apocalypse are going to get cornered," predicts Guillaume Poupard, "We can’t become dinosaurs in a museum."
Speaker: Guillaume Poupard, ANSSI