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July 22, 2016 | Cybersecurity: CEA joins forces with European Commission

PPPOn July 5, 2017 the European Commission signed a new public-private partnership (PPP) in the field of cybersecurity. The partnership will entail setting up the European CyberSecurity Organisation (ECSO), a nonprofit. The move was part of the Commission’s strategy for its Research & Innovation (R&I) programs involving public and private partners.

The European Union will invest €450 million in the new partnership and will be looking to industrial partners to contribute €1.8 billion in additional funding by 2020. As a major center for research in cybersecurity, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) was instrumental in engineering the PPP and setting up the nonprofit ESCO. Géraud Canet (of List, a CEA Tech institute) was elected to the Board of Directors and Partnership Committee.

ECSO was set up as a nonprofit organization. Its founding members include the European Organisation for Security[1] (EOS), ACN (Alliance pour la confiance numérique), major European industrial corporations (Airbus, Thales, Safran/Morpho), national cybersecurity agencies (including ANSSI for France), and research organizations (CEA, Tecnalia, VTT, INRIA, and others). ECSO’s general mandate is to support initiatives and projects to develop, promote, and encourage cybersecurity at the European level. The cybersecurity PPP coordinates all cybersecurity activities for Europe, occupying a prime position in European research. Most notably, the PPP is tasked with:

  • Creating cybersecurity research roadmaps
  • Determining content of calls for projects
  • Structuring the ecosystem

And, given the strategic nature of cybersecurity, EU Member States will play a particularly important role in ESCO and will be directly represented within the organization. Luigi Rebuffi of EOS is coordinating the PPP, which has two main governance bodies on which the CEA holds seats:

  • The Board of Directors, which counts 38 members
  • The Partnership Committee, whose scope includes research programs

The CEA’s role in cybersecurity research

The CEA runs a specific cybersecurity research program as part of a broader security research program coordinated by the Military Applications Department (DAM). The CEA’s research focuses on the development of:

  • Secure architectures designed to ensure the cybersecurity of industrial systems
  • Cyberprotection technologies, including and, especially, cryptography and encryption products
  • Defensive cybersecurity technologies
[1] The CEA is a member of the European Organisation for Security (EOS) alongside many other security stakeholders from research and industry (Airbus, Thales, Safran/Morpho, BAE, Finmeccanica, etc., as well as TNO, VTT, Tecnalia, and others). The CEA is also a member of the European Association of Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO) and chairs EARTO’s Security Research Working Group.