The next lot of young army officers graduating from Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan, France's equivalent to West Point or Sandhurst, will be better versed in cyberwarfare and cyberdefense than their elders. A new chair of cyberdefense, to be occupied by Daniel Ventre, was inaugurated Monday, 2 July with three objectives in mind: firstly to introduce students to the subject and to provide on-the-job instruction to higher ranking officers throughout the French armed forces; secondly, to establish a high-ranking research program with public and private partners, both military and civilian, French and foreign and with other international research centers; and thirdly, to set up a center of cyberdefense expertise at the Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan schools.
Initially Thales and Sogeti are providing an equal share of the budget of “several hundred thousand euros” but they would not be drawn out on precise figures despite repeated questioning from journalists present!
“The idea is to provide basic knowledge of the subject not to train cyberdefense specialists,” says Eric Gherardi, the civilian director of studies at the schools.
Daniel Ventre, an academic, has been working on cyberdefense for the past seven or eight years. “It's a subject that raises only very slight interest amongst academics,” he remarks, adding that “one of my roles as chair is to have a multi-disciplinary approach taking into account legal, strategic, international relation aspects, amongst others.” He says the new department will not only undertake fundamental research but also applied research and will publish.
Ventre explains that the first four teaching themes (which could very well change in the future) will be centered on: territory (where do cyberattacks come from and where are they aimed and why); the human factor (who are cyberwarriors?); national strategies; measuring the threat both quantitively and qualitatively.