Economy "Teleworking will accentuate our digital vulnerabilities", believes the boss...

“Teleworking will accentuate our digital vulnerabilities”, believes the boss of the Bordeaux start-up Tehtris

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Computer illustration, teleworking – ROBIN UTRECHT / SIPA

  • Based in Pessac in the suburbs of Bordeaux, the start-up Tehtris has just raised 20 million euros in funds, and aims to become a European leader in the cybersecurity sector.
  • Its boss and co-founder, Laurent Oudot, assures us that “everyone can be hacked”, either by espionage or by sabotage.
  • He believes that with telework “we are breaking down the digital boundaries established around company data. “

For a few days now, Laurent Oudot and Eléna Poincet, two ex-agents of the DGSE (General Directorate of External Security) who set up the start-up Tehtris in 2010, no longer touch the ground. They have just completed a historic fundraising of 20 million euros, “the biggest international fundraising in the cybersecurity sector,” reveals Laurent Oudot. Based in Pessac in the suburbs of Bordeaux, this company of 65 employees specializes in cyber hacking and espionage, and develops software capable of detecting and neutralizing digital threats in real time and in an automated manner, an infrastructure called XDR (Extended Detection and Response). For its development, it will recruit 300 people in different fields. Laurent Oudot answered questions from 20 Minutes.

Laurent Oudot, president and co-founder of the company Thetris, specialized in cybersecurity

What do cyber attacks represent today?

In barely 50 years, we have created a kind of cybersphere in which everything communicates. There is an extreme dependence between human beings and digital technologies, and which does not stop, on the contrary we are constantly bringing new performances to it such as 5G, which will accelerate speeds at the international level, and therefore facilitate also data theft. As all of these technologies were interconnected, we never really thought about cybersecurity. Today, very large firms are announcing completely crazy sums, of the order of 2,000 billion euros in losses per year, linked to computer hacking, which would be a business representing a market superior to that of narcotics.

When we talk about cyber attacks, what are we talking about exactly?

Individuals, companies, public services, the State… Anyone can be hacked. There are two ways of doing this: espionage, with massive theft of cyber data or targeted espionage – a CEO who has his phone empty -; and sabotage: sabotage of factories, of computer equipment, with demand for ransoms.

This is where you come in, what is the solution you propose?

When we launched in 2010, we were only doing intrusion tests, security analysis. After two years of activity, we realized that you could hack almost anything on the Internet, and that the solutions sold were not working, or not as they should. This is where we decided to code our own solutions that do incident detection and response, but in a very automated way. Thanks to software robots, with a little over 60 people, we provide the equivalent of the work of 2,000 to 3,000 people. Our robots deployed in more than 70 countries constantly analyze weak signals with artificial intelligence and algorithms, and little by little we have implemented an efficiency allowing us to detect espionage or the beginning of sabotage. For example, we blocked attacks abroad targeting the aerospace industry, or the military and aeronautical sectors.

All this with locally trained engineers?

Basically I’m from Bordeaux, and I came back here after a career in France and abroad, and it is true that we have in Bordeaux, but also in Mont-de-Marsan, Pau and Limoges, a real university network in which we recruited our first experts, who were then trained in cyber defense.

Did the context of the health and economic crisis that we are going through favor your fundraising of 20 million euros?

Not really, because you can imagine that such a fundraiser has been preparing for a while. In reality, it is a work that started two years ago, in which we positioned ourselves in the construction of a very sophisticated business plan, the objective of which is to create a European leader in cyber defense software.

Nevertheless, does this crisis make us even more vulnerable?

Indeed, teleworking will accentuate our digital vulnerabilities. The digital territory of a company, before, was like a fortified castle protected by a firewall, there was like a border with data inside. What happened this year is that those borders have been broken, since people have to work remotely, either by connecting to the heart of the fortified castle, or by connecting in the cloud, so well that there is a loss of control and benchmarks. Cybercriminals and cyber-spies are seeing new prey appear, and if a hacker in Russia or China, controls the computer of an employee of a CAC 40 company connected to its internal network, it will have access to same data. This loss of borders leads to a monstrous exhibition area, and we have it for years …

Concretely, what will this 20 million euro fundraising change for Tehtris?

In terms of technology, not much, on the other hand it will give us additional resources to become a European leader. Without funding, it was a bit complicated because in front of us, we have American, Israeli and Russian companies, which water the advertising market. Suddenly, we need to exist in this area too.

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