French government launches national cyber-security strategy

The French government has announced a new overarching cyber-security strategy which it hopes will create a unified, cooperative approach to protecting government, commerce and individuals.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls

During a conference on Friday the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls launched the country's national cyber-security strategy which it says will provide a comprehensive security framework.

The conference, organised by the country's cyber-security agency ANSSI, was attended by 800 delegates with an interest in cyber-security and was an opportunity to learn more about the implications of the new strategy.

In the foreword to the strategy document, “French National Digital Security Strategy”, Valls said that France is a highly-connected country which enjoys strong growth in the digital economy. But he warned: “The digital universe is also a locale for competition and confrontation. Cyberspace has become a new domain for unfair competition and espionage, disinformation and propaganda, terrorism and criminality.”

He said the strategy would only succeed with the cooperation of the public and private sector: “The national digital security strategy must be founded, in particular, on training and international cooperation. It must be supported by the entire national community: the government and the public sector at national and local levels, businesses, and, more broadly, all our countrymen. This is a concern for each and every one of us.”

The strategy is comprised of five objectives covering among other things the defence and security of national information systems, digital trust and privacy, education and awareness, export strategy and policy and European cooperation.

Gerome Billois, senior manager at Solucom, a French IT consultancy with 300 cyber-security specialists, told SCMagazineUK.com that the strategy is a big step forward for the French.

“The previous strategy was focused on the state and what needed to be done for the ministry and all the state agencies, but this one really encompasses all the areas,” Billois said. “There are things for the enterprises, the general public and there are things for the state. It tackles the cyber-security problem on all the levels that need to be addressed.”

The new strategy calls for the government to establish the means to protect its fundamental interests on the internet, to guard national information and defend critical infrastructure from cyber-attack. The government recognises that this will depend on having sufficient scientific, technical and industrial capabilities, the strategy said.

Ensuring the confidence of the public in the internet is also a key plank in the strategy, with an emphasis on maintaining digital trust and privacy and protecting against “cyber-malevolence”. The government also unveiled plans for specialised police to assist victims of cyber-crime who have lost money or had their online identities compromised.

Part of bolstering the nation's cyber-security is training the public to recognise cyber-risks as well as providing top quality education at both a technical and academic level. The Prime Minister in particular praised the work of the universities in France which have banded together to develop courses on cyber-security to be incorporated into general IT degrees.

With one eye on the economy, the government strategy also seeks to set favourable policies for the development of digital technology businesses, exports and international cooperation.

On the European stage, the Pime Mnister wants France to be a driving force behind “strategic autonomy” – the promotion of “a safe, stable and open cyber-pace”.

Billois, who attended the conference, said the Pime Mnister didn't pledge any further funds for cyber-security apart from the €1 billion (£730 million) over three years which has already been budgeted for cyber-security.

However, the announcement represents a significant new direction for the French government. “Five years ago you would not have had a Pime Minister talking about cyber-security,” Billois said. “So we are seeing a change in the importance of cyber-security... Today in France that has been very well communicated.” 

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