How the Grand Est is arming itself against cyberattacks – Le Journal des Entreprises

It’s not all about whether it will happen, but when. This is essentially the message conveyed by all cybersecurity specialists. So you might as well prepare to face a cyberattack and know how to react. In this context, the Grand Est Region and its partners have just opened an assistance center for victims of computer attacks, dedicated to SMEs, ETIs, communities and associations.

Especially since the threat is constantly growing. According to the National Information Systems Security Agency (Anssi), “the cybercriminal threat and more specifically that linked to ransomware experienced a resurgence of activity at the end of 2022, then remaining at a high level. This threat cybercrime particularly affects VSEs, SMEs and ETIs (40% of ransomware processed or reported to Anssi in 2022), local authorities (23%) and public health establishments (10%)”. According to Anssi, threats by ransomware, or ransomware, have even quadrupled between 2020 and 2021 and by eight between 2021 and 2022.

Bankruptcy risk

According to Damien Naton, head of the consultancy department of the Strasbourg IT provider Acesi (140 employees, €24.3 million in turnover in 2022), “any type of business can be attacked. When they are attacked, the structures rarely advertise it, so the actual figures for the attacks are little known”.

However, it is a reality that does damage. According to Gérald Vallet, regional director in Strasbourg of Orange Cyberdefense, “about 60% of companies that are victims of a cyberattack file for bankruptcy in the following months”. Like the builder of office partitions and fittings, Clestra Hauserman (€142 million in turnover in 2021). The Bas-Rhin company was the victim of a cyberattack at the end of April 2022. The encryption of all of its data brought the company to a standstill. Despite the restoration of almost all the data by experts, the company, which lost several million euros in a few months, requested its placement in receivership during the summer of 2022. The company has been taken over since last fall by the Parisian Jestia.

Multiplication of threats

In the Grand Est, the Region has been working on a regional cyber security plan for a year and a half. If the threat does not seem more sensitive than elsewhere, Irène Weiss, regional adviser in charge of cybersecurity, recalls that “the Great East is an industrial region which has many kilometers of borders with four European countries, this can help attract cyberattacks”.

Another factor favoring digital threats: the economic situation. “The breaking point in the acceleration of cyberattacks was the Covid crisis,” said Jean-Charles Renaudin, head of cybersecurity activity at Grand E-Nov +, the regional innovation and international prospecting agency. . For the expert, “digitization was a necessity during the health crisis. This has led to a monumental accumulation of digital data. The digitization of production spheres, but also private ones with teleworking has led to a multiplication of the attack surface in private and professional lives and the rise of potential flaws”.

Plans to develop cybersecurity

Resulting from the health crisis also, on the economic level, the Grand Est region has published a recovery roadmap, the Business Act. Cybersecurity is a point of vigilance included in the program.

This desire was concomitant with the national plan announced by the government in February 2021 to structure the cybersecurity ecosystem at the national level and create a network across the territory. As part of this national incentive, regional C-SIRTs, or Computer Attack Victim Assistance Centers, are gradually being rolled out. In the Grand Est, it is operated from Nancy by Grand E-Nov +. This center, called Grand Est Cybersecurity, has been operational since mid-February with a team of four, headed by Jean-Charles Renaudin.

Launched as part of the second phase of the Business Act of the Grand Est Region, with the support of Anssi, this C-SIRT delivers a free assistance service to SMEs, ETIs, communities and associations in the area. Reachable by telephone (0 970 51 25 25, Monday to Friday until 6:00 p.m.), the center has a budget of one million euros for the next three years. He carries out an analysis of the situation to assess the nature of the incident, then orients towards one of the sixty solution providers listed in the region to intervene. If the call is free, the services offered by the solution providers to take control of the management of the cyberattack are invoiced. The regional C-SIRTs are also intended to follow up on the incident until the situation is restored and finally, to offer support for legal proceedings.

The service is still very recent in the Grand Est, but “the objective is also to set up a monitoring of cyber incident statistics at the regional level”, projects regional elected official Irène Weiss.

However, “there are incidents that we will not see because the victims do not want to say that they are victims. However, the longer we delay in acting, the more it can deteriorate”, warns Jean-Charles Renaudin, which notes that cyber threats have become more professional. Especially with the war in Ukraine. According to the head of Grand Est Cybersecurity, there would be “a rise in power of espionage actions much more difficult to detect”.

Audit and human risk

With the regional C-SIRT, the Grand Est Region is expanding the range of actions made available to economic players to better prepare for the cyber threat. Since November 2022, the community has been offering a cybersecurity diagnosis “in the form of audits which make it possible to increase the level of resilience in cybersecurity and to assess the cybermaturity of structures”, specifies Irène Weiss.

A necessary step according to Christophe Corne, director of the Systancia cybersecurity software publisher from Mulhouse (€8.5 million turnover in 2022; 140 employees). “The diagnosis co-financed by the Region is a very positive initiative. This audit makes it possible to detect weak points. The approach is salutary and very important”. Especially since for Damien Naton, “the human being is the first bulwark against cyberattacks, but also often the weak link. As any protection implemented is not enough, it is necessary to prepare, to practice upstream to manage a cyber crisis, and awareness then takes on its full meaning”.

Raising awareness is also the business of insurers. The insurance broker Claude Castérot, based in Haguenau, with an office in Colmar (16 employees; 1.6 M€ turnover) notes that the subject of cybersecurity is one of the most numerous requests from its customers (only professionals) , with a very strong demand for information. “Before putting a contract in place, you have to do an audit. You eliminate the risks if you train yourself. When the tools are up to date, the equipment is rarely put in failure. The risk factor is the human factor. You have to work on information and training”.


At the regional level, in a year and a half, a major step has been taken in taking cybersecurity issues into account. But a step still needs to be taken in terms of skills. “In cybersecurity, the need for expertise is greater than the training capacity and there is a need to broaden the recruitment base. 10,000 to 15,000 cybersecurity needs are not being met at the moment nationally. Reported to the region, this would correspond to 200 to 300 non-honored positions”, notes Jean-Charles Renaudin.

Pierre Parrend is deputy director of the Epita school research laboratory and head of the system security team. The Epita network trains engineers in digital intelligence and has a campus in Strasbourg. According to him, “all companies that have a network need to secure it. At least with company referents. Currently, companies use service providers sometimes outside the region due to lack of staff”. Daniel Gwinner, sales engineer at Orange Cyberdéfense in Alsace agrees: “Locally, we need consultants, auditors, salespeople and technical talents”.

In the Grand Est, the regional council wants to work with universities for more cybersecurity training. A university center around this theme exists in Nancy and a campus could be developed in the Ardennes. Irène Weiss recognizes this: “You have to make young people want to take an interest in cybersecurity professions, without forgetting the challenges of the feminization of this discipline”. An incubator dedicated to cybersecurity start-up projects could even be a line of thought for the Region.

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