Live from the International Cybersecurity Forum (FIC) which was held in Lille until September 9, Futura met with ComCyber, the French Army’s Cyber Defense Command. We set off to discover its cyber maneuver grounds and its digital warriors.
« We fight through the sky, through thewe are leading the fight. Here is the rather intriguing motto of the , the French Army Cyber Defense Command. The ether represents a fifth elusive element and which is transversal to all the others, which characterizes the virtual universe of cyber. It is probably for this reason that one finds at the ComCyber at the same time sailors, airmen and personnel of the Army. It should be noted, however, that the majority of cyber fighters come from the navy and the army of the . And for good reason, for these two weapons the technicality is omnipresent. Among these cyber-fighters, at the International Cybersecurity Forum held in Lille, we met Lieutenant-Commander Xavier.
For ten years this officer traveled the seas of the world on warships. For four years now, he has been navigating the troubled waters of thewithin the , the Center for Analysis in Defensive Computer Fighting of ComCyber. As its name suggests, this division based in both Paris and continuously seeks to detect and treat which impact military networks. It is one of the three divisions of ComCyber, with the CASSI (Center for Audits of Information Systems Security) which oversees the security of information systems. There is also the Cyber Defense Reserve and Operational Readiness Center (CRPOC) which recruits and manages the training and preparation of cyber defense reservists.
Portrait of a cyber fighter
At CALID, the naval officer evolves in a dimension without horizon. A universe that he finds intellectually stimulating and where everything is in. He must manage, with 120 other cyber-combatants, more or less harsh attacks that affect the networks of the Ministry of the Armed Forces on a daily basis. As an officer, he supervises a team of expert cyber fighters, capable of reacting to attacks of all kinds. Which ones? Overall, these are the same ones that anyone can encounter. But for the military, it is out of the question that the least come and sow discord in the networks of the armies.
Like their counterparts, cyber-combatants also go on “opex” », that is to say in an external operation, in the Sahel, in particular. Their mission is then to protect the IT installations on the ground from cyber attacks. Attacks that Futura already hasand some of which may be major. While he has already gone on opex on numerous occasions at sea, Lieutenant-Commander Xavier is one of those who aspire to go on a mission in the field.
A cyber war machine
But before the opex, themust also train regularly to counter new threats. Their maneuvering grounds are servers and computer networks. Their training missions are less spectacular and less noisy, but they are regular and evolve with new threats. This is precisely what Warrant Officer Sébastien presents with the Trident on the ComCyber FIC stand. The Trident is a big box with reinforced wheels. It encloses a server and simulates complete networks, identical to those of a real SME, for example. On the screens connected to the subwoofer, you can find everything, , mail servers, intranet resources, etc. The objective of the maneuver is to succeed in neutralizing cyber attacks and in the worst case, to restart the entire network, having taken care to plug the breaches. This large box is intended to be “thrown” as indicated by the warrant officer. In military parlance, this means that it can be deployed just about anywhere and very quickly and easily. It allows you to upgrade teams of cyber fighters from any location. Adjutant Sébastien indicates that the soldiers have much larger internally. With these systems, they manage to up to 200 servers.
The advantage of this platform is that it is possible to add real computersto the virtual network. And the officer shows us a cell phone that is infected with a . Faced with such an event, the military will find the network and if they do not succeed, through software, they are able to extract the hard drive of the computer to recover data and process it. But in order to know how to defend oneself, it is still necessary to know how to attack and the CRPOC instructors use the same tools as the and update their knowledge constantly. It is in front of this type of platform or other simulators that the capabilities of cyber fighters will be upgraded in the future. And they will be more and more numerous, since during the FIC, the Minister of Defense, Florence Parly, announced a boost in recruitments to reach 5,000 specialists by 2025.