“Behind Gérald Darmanin’s communication hides the impotence of France in the face of cybercrime”

FIGAROVOX / TRIBUNE – Despite his intransigent speech on security issues, the Minister of the Interior is making a serious mistake by neglecting the fight against cybercrime, believes Paul Melun.

Paul Melun is a strategy advisor and essayist. He has notably published, with Jérémie Cornet, Children of deconstruction. Portrait of a youth in rupture (ed. Marie B., 2019).

Faithful to the legacy of his illustrious predecessors, Nicolas Sarkozy at the head, Gérald Darmanin practices the policy of the chin blow. As if to hide his lack of power in the face of violence, the minister gesticulates, bombs his chest and exhausts his communicators. Like a sales representative, he exhibits a fleet of brand new police vehicles and more “blues in the streets“. The aim of the operation is simple: to show that the government is acting “on the ground”.

If the recruitment of 10,000 additional police and gendarmes over the five-year term goes in the right direction, especially after the cuts of posts under the Sarkozy presidency, the question of “means” is only a partial response to a much deeper problem.

While the government is hammering out a hypothetical security turning point, it fails to respond to the country’s real challenges. What about the penal response? When the police call on the same delinquents over and over again? That these follow up courtesy visits to the judge and then return to their traffic? What about the administrative burden of the police officers, drowned in a bureaucracy that prevents them from going into the field (the engagement rate in the field was 37% in 2017 according to the central public security directorate of the police prefecture of Paris [1])?

While these cyberthreats explode, the manpower of the specialized services of the Police and the Gendarmerie is derisory.

Paul Melun

Not content with not answering these questions, the government overlooks a major threat hanging over France: cybercrime. Attacks by Russian hacker groups are on the rise. In the United States (like the attack on more than 150 public and private organizations in 2020 [2]) as in France (intrusions via Centreon software [3]), they threaten our economy and our public services today. The Internet is also a key element in the jihadization process, through the consultation of content promoting terrorism. Thus, the report of the Law and Justice Research Mission, underlined in 2017 that the Internet was playing “a central role in the knowledge of jihadist Islam“And allowed the radicalization of”express oneself fully“. Many other examples could be cited: cryptocurrencies, which offer new possibilities for money laundering, ransomware which threatens our SMEs …

While these cyberthreats explode, the staff of the specialized services of the Police and the Gendarmerie are derisory. A Senate report from July 2020 [4] stresses that the staff of the sub-directorate for the fight against cybercrime (SDLC) of the National Police is only 130 people; the National Gendarmerie (C3N) digital crime control center employs only 56 soldiers; the police prefecture’s information technology fraud investigation unit (BEFTI) has only 25 police officers, and the Pharos reporting platform operates with around 100 agents [5].

This lack of resources was sadly manifested during the assassination of Samuel Paty. The terrorist’s numerous reports on Pharos could not be taken into account [6]. Thus, these publications on the internet did not give rise to his arrest before he committed the irreparable. Regarding child pornography, only around 100 cases cannot be processed annually by the six investigators of the national center for the analysis of child pornography images at C3N, while the Point de contact reporting platform lists more than 11,000 URLs per year. year leading to such content (France is the world’s fourth largest host of child pornography content [7]). This sad observation is unfortunately valid for all cyberviolence. It is even more so for the role that the internet plays in jihadist radicalization.

The logic of permanent signage and thunderous communication spoils our country and prevents us from effectively protecting our fellow citizens.

Paul Melun

France must set up an office to fight against radicalization and the expression of jihadism online. On the model of the national center for the analysis of child pornography images (CNAIP), it would allow better detection of apologetic content online and would promote the identification of radicalized Internet users. We must rely on our gendarmes and police officers, who perfectly master the techniques of internet monitoring (especially on the darkweb) and the investigation under a pseudonym [8], allowing them to effectively infiltrate groups on social networks. According to Gendinfo [9], the newspaper of the Gendarmerie, a task force was created following the assassination of Samuel Paty to help process reports. Why not perpetuate such a structure, and make it a unit specializing in the issue of online radicalization?

While the Director General of ANSSI recently estimated that “cybercrime has an impact on national security» [10], Mr. Darmanin does not seem to have taken the measure of the stake. France must arm itself as quickly as possible in the face of new cyberthreats. The logic of permanent signage and thunderous communication spoils our country and prevents us from effectively protecting our fellow citizens. History teaches that nations are strong when they anticipate the most unfathomable threats. The challenge is immense, as Europe is lagging behind in new technologies. We can bet that France will not reproduce the mistakes of the past and will know how to bring a real response to the bad winds blowing its enemies both outside and inside.

[1] https://www.liberation.fr/checknews/2018/03/02/pour-une-heure-sur-le-terrain-les-policiers-font-sept-heures-de-procedure-gerard-collomb-dit-il-vrai_1633079/

[2] https://www.notretemps.com/high-tech/actualites/usa-les-hackers-russes-derriere-le-afp-202105,i244617

[3] https://www.01net.com/actualites/la-france-victime-d-une-campagne-de-cyberattaque-russe-2034977.html

[4] http://www.senat.fr/notice-rapport/2019/r19-613-notice.html

[5] https://www.gendinfo.fr/dossiers/la-menace-cyber/Des-technicites-alliees-a-l-investigation

[6] https://www.lefigaro.fr/politique/assassinat-de-samuel-paty-le-renseignement-a-t-il-failli-20201023

[7] https://www.gendinfo.fr/dossiers/la-menace-cyber/Des-technicites-alliees-a-l-investigation

[8] https://www.gendinfo.fr/dossiers/la-menace-cyber/Des-technicites-alliees-a-l-investigation

[9] https://www.gendinfo.fr/actualites/2020/apologie-du-terrorisme-le-pole-judiciaire-de-la-gendarmerie-nationale-mobilise-une-task-force

[10] https://www.lemonde.fr/pixels/article/2021/06/10/guillaume-poupard-la-cybercriminalite-a-un-impact-sur-la-securite-nationale_6083552_4408996.html


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