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Lille, a cybersecurity competition to counter the recruitment shortage

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Apr16,2024

 Lille, a cybersecurity competition to counter the recruitment shortage


Test the resistance of a computer network or reconstruct a virtual crime scene: around 200 students and young cybersecurity professionals compete in Lille on Wednesday and Thursday, in a event which focuses on an esports tournament atmosphere to encourage vocations.

Leaning on their screens and encouraged by their coaches in a large room lit with blue and red neon lights at the Grand Palais in Lille, the members of the 20 teams participating in the 4th edition of the European Cyber ​​Cup are gathered for two days of competition organized by the Incyber forum on cybersecurity.

These events “very clearly reflect moments that can be found in a professional life”, specifies Sébastien Bombal, honorary president of the competition and technical director at French customs . “This is typically the type of job that a cybersecurity professional may be required to do.”

Moreover, it is not uncommon for representatives of the largest companies in the sector, coming to the show to present their new products, to sneak into the aisles to identify potential recruits in a context of “enormous lack of resources on the market of work”, according to Mr. Bombal.

With his nine teammates, all from the 2600 school, an establishment training in cybersecurity professions, Alexis de Brito, 24, must complete seven tests. “It’s a mix between chess and esports,” he comments to AFP.

His first mission: trace a criminal network by sifting through WhatsApp messages. “It’s a bit like a real situation where we would have recovered a dealer’s phone to extract information from him and analyze this data,” explains the captain of the “Phreaks 2600”.

– Unfilled positions –

For these young talents, it is not just the prize of 5,000 euros to be shared in the event of victory that is at stake. “What I am waiting for is to learn new things,” says -he. “I start from the principle that if I improve my skills, companies will notice me.”

In France, in the cybersecurity sector, “we are talking about 15,000 unfilled positions but these figures are very clearly reduced, in my opinion, compared to what we expect on the market”, estimates Sébastien Bombal.

In a study published in March by the Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky, almost a third of European companies say they face a shortage of qualified professionals in this field. At the global level, this figure rises to 41%.

For its part, the French IT Security Agency (Anssi) regrets “the elitist and very technical image” of cybersecurity professions, in a report published in March, calling for “essential actions to be put in place to deal with the shortage”.

For Sébastien Bombal, using popular entertainment codes among young people “allows us to try to inform them (…) because that is where tomorrow's relay will come from.”

< strong>– “Awareness” –

At the same time, the sector is facing another shortage: of the 200 competitors present, only ten are female competitors.

“There is a lack of interest among girls from a very young age,” notes Myriam Ouraou, 22, from the “DaVinciCode” team.

“We need to raise awareness a little more,” adds this student from the Léonard-de-Vinci Engineering School. “I'm part of the group but I don't feel like a pioneer.”

At a neighboring table, one of the participants, wearing dark glasses, a black mask and a cap pulled down on his face, seems to want to reproduce the cliché of the computer hacker, reminding us that the barrier is thin between hacker and cyber defender.

“There are two paths available,” notes Charlie Bromberg, trainer of the “Phreaks 2600”: “the legitimate, +safe+ path, in a box that offers us something interesting and stimulating on the long term, and (…) the path which is sometimes perhaps a little more profitable but very risky” of computer hacking.

But, for this cybersecurity expert at Capgemini, the strengthening of legal framework and security teams facing pirates means that “there are more and more tools and skills at their disposal to catch up with them.”

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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