French leading-edge cybersecurity companies

Cyberattacks are on the increase, causing colossal damage. People are starting to organize to counter hacker attacks against businesses and individuals, and the French are at the forefront of this trend.

Information systems are targeted by crooks and hackers who attack client files, the personal data of employees, executives and stakeholders, financial and industrial information, medical confidentiality, correspondence, and so on. Those attacks have very significant consequences: misappropriation of funds, identity theft, blackmail, serious problems in corporate organization and damaged corporate image. In addition to crime as such, our critical infrastructure, including energy, finance, transport and health, is increasingly under threat of computer sabotage that may seriously disrupt the functioning of the country.


These types of threats are constantly growing alongside the development of computer exchanges. In addition to big trading groups and administrations, medium-sized companies are now also increasingly targeted: while attacks have increased 42% overall, they have more than doubled for companies with less than 250 employees.

According to experts’ estimates, cybercrime costs €100 billion-300 billion worldwide. Figures are not exact as attacks are difficult to identify, particularly as they are not always disclosed by companies concerned with their reputation, and as losses are difficult to quantify as often linked to a reduced competitive edge. Yet it is becoming difficult to conceal the seriousness of the situation, given that cyberattacks are increasing, with severe consequences. The cybersecurity sector is therefore flourishing and French expertise in this area is highly valued.

There are of course important industrial groups in this market, like Thales, Airbus Group, Bull and Safran, as well as many, smaller companies. French leading-edge cybersecurity companies include Dictao, which specializes in transaction security (authentication, digital vault, etc.) and is very present in administrations, banking and insurance. It has opened subsidiaries in Spain and Denmark and is establishing itself in the United Kingdom. Successful exporting activities are a hallmark of those innovative specialist enterprises. About 10 of them have grouped together within Hexatrust, a grouping of companies whose members make 39% of their sales volume on the international market for a total turnover of €110.4 million in 2014, up by 17.5%. This initiative was launched by Wallix, the European leader in privileged user management, audit and compliance, and traceability, all-in-one solutions for technology that are also popular in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Last October, Hexatrust joined the French Land Defence and Security Industry Association (GICAT) which has set up an Information Systems Directorate. It should be noted that, as early as 2008, the French White Paper on Defence and National Security put information system security on a par with nuclear deterrence and the ballistic missiles sector. Together with the French Network and Information Security Agency (ANSSI), GICAT is working on the implementation of the Nouvelle France Industrielle (NFI) [New Industrial France]’s 33rd Plan on Cybersecurity which is considering, in particular, the creation of a Label France [French label] as a mark of trust, quality and performance for national offers.

There is a large range of experts at Hexatrust in this highly international sector covering firewalls, antivirus software, and monitoring, intrusion detection and protection systems, cloud services, etc. Brainwave, a leader in solutions for analytics (data mining), reporting, audit and user entitlements, is distributed in Europe, Africa and North America. Idecsi, a specialist in e-mail protection, was awarded the Innovation Prize of the Assises de la Sécurité et des système d’information (Conference on Security and Information Systems) in 2014. Prim’x publishes encryption software and Nethéos specializes in secure electronic transactions and contracts on smartphones and tablets for banking establishments. OpenTrust is the leading European provider of software and cloud trust services which are used by millions of people around the world. Olfeo specializes in the publication of Internet security software and adapts its solutions to each of its markets, including Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and Morocco. Ozon provides the first cloud-based service designed to protect eCommerce websites. We should also mention Sentryo, Qosmos, Ilex, Ercom, Bertin Technologies, inWebo Enterprise, ITrust, TheGreenBow, TrustInSoft and Vade Retro which all have in common that they provide a wide range of sophisticated and functional products.

The cybersecurity market is estimated at €4 billion in France and grows 10% worldwide every year. Moreover, the relevant legal framework is being strengthened. The French Act on Data Processing and Freedoms compels companies to ensure the security of personal data, while the Defence Programme Act of December 2013 has made public and private critical infrastructures subject to certain stringent cybersecurity rules. Cybersecurity is definitely a growth area.

— Sylvie Thomas

For further information:
Professional events:
- The 7th edition of the International Cybersecurity Forum (FIC) 2015, on 20 and 21 January in Lille, France.
- The 15th edition of Les Assises de la sécurité et des systèmes d’information [Congress on Security and Information Systems], from 30 September to 3 October 2015, in Monaco.

N.B.: The claims and opinions contained in this article, which aims to provide information on contemporary France, have no official value.

Dernière modification : 01/02/2015

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