While the military programming law is unveiled Tuesday in the Council of Ministers, the branch of the army responsible for cybersecurity wants to create vocations. A life-size exercise was conducted in a computer school in Paris.
In military fatigues in the classroom, Lieutenant Thibault gives the last instructions. “It’s 3:45 p.m., I’m going to start the attacks. You have to defend yourself in real time. Is it okay? Let’s go!” The exercise: a very realistic cyberattack. It takes place at the Ehigher school of computer engineering (ESGI), in Paris, and lasts all day. It is organized by the branch of the army in charge of cybersecurity, the “Comcyber” (cyber defense command). The objective: to recruit experts.
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And to find these profiles, the Comcyber organizes very realistic exercises directly in computer science and engineering schools, to create vocations. “We are going to put them in a situation so that they understand that we are not here to laugh, that we are not here to play, but to do something concrete, serious, explains Lieutenant Thibault. We motivate them quickly and, depending on the groups, we will put them more or less under pressure, like us, we could have to put up with it if we were really on the pitch.
Recruit 1,500 cyber combatants by 2025
The students, divided into two teams, must defend a strategic information system. “For once, we are in an environment that we don’t really know, so it’s complicated to find your wayslips Florian, 23, who got caught up in the game. It’s an interesting challenge.” To the point of making it his profession? The question arises, assures the student: “It could be a possibility.”
“It’s different from a classic professional environment, the stakes are a little higher: inevitably, it empowers. And I find that it’s really interesting.”Florian, student at ESGI
For young people, it’s an exercise, but for the Ministry of Defense, the stakes are high: it wants to recruit 1,500 cyber-combatants by 2025. “The threat is more and more important, it is perfecting, details Sergeant Pierre, in charge of recruitment. We need more and more people, that’s why we come to the schools: because it’s the engineering profiles that interest us. They have a good base and we can offer them different positions within our institutions, at officer level, for example.”
These students already have a very good training, and many go to the army after this awareness, assures Kamel Hennou, director of the school. “Each year, we have between 30 students who commit to this national cybersecurity reserve”. During this two-week session, 400 students carried out this exercise, in 13 higher education schools in Île-de-France.
The French army organizes cybersecurity exercises in computer schools – Repotage de Noémie Bonnin