French, EU cybersecurity heads stress greater cooperation, resources importance

The heads of the European and the French cybersecurity agencies have called for a greater level of cooperation and more resources to compete in the cybersecurity spending race.

Guillaume Poupard of the French National Agency for the Security of Information Systems (ANSSI) and Juhan Lepassaar of the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) met at the French Senate in Paris to discuss European cybersecurity.

The two heads made reference to the higher spending on cybersecurity across the Atlantic in the United States. During the conversation, Lepassar highlighted the EU spends on average 41% less on information security than the US.

The EU representative noted cybersecurity ‘touches all policy areas’ and called out to French senators to adopt a more horizontal approach when writing cybersecurity legislation. He applauded a move by the French government to introduce a €1bn package focused on creating a ‘cybersecurity ecosystem’ following a surge in cyberattacks in February 2020.

Poupard cited the three major threats facing countries due to cybersecurity are serious crime, espionage and quasi-military attacks, claiming the latter can ‘create a nationwide blockage’.

On this point, Lepassaar emphasised the need for much closer international cooperation, with his French counterpart stating that ‘for the most critical systems, only European law should apply’ – this referred to similar-styled intrusive legislation in the US.

The EU recently pledged to invest €1.6bn into cybersecurity as part of the 2021-2027 Digital Europe Programme. Furthermore, 20% of the EU’s recovery and resilience budget will be spent on the digital transition, which involves the fight against cybercrime and cyber threats.

The head of GCHQ Jeremy Fleming recently claimed the UK and its allies face a ‘moment of reckoning’ where the global direction of cybersecurity may not be ‘shaped and controlled by the west’ with challenges arising from Russia and China.

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