France’s secret service is looking to recruit tech wizards in the new Coronavirus age where virtual communication is king

France’s secret service is looking to recruit tech wizards in the new Coronavirus age where virtual communication is king.

FRENCH secret service technical director Patrick Pailloux is looking to recruit geeks rather than James Bonds as they adapt to new demands in the post-coronavirus world.

Pailloux said there is a danger that many young tech-savvy French people simply do not consider themselves suitable for the stereotypes of France’s Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE).

“We need people who are very connected to new technologies – thus young people,” said Pailloux.

The DGSE has previously acknowledged it has seen a surge of interest in its work thanks to the hugely popular TV drama ‘Le Bureau des Légendes.’ In the series, spies on dangerous missions around the world work closely with IT experts deep inside the DGSE Paris headquarters.

Young people “have James Bond and the special forces in their heads,” said Pailloux.
“They think: ‘I am not Rambo, I am a geek,’ and it does not occur to them to enter the DGSE.
“But it is not only supermen who are supercharged. If you are supercharged in science then you can also serve your country.”

And this will be even more crucial in the changed world after the coronavirus where communication will be even more virtual and less in person.

“Cybersecurity is the alpha and omega of global security in the world we live in,” said Pailloux. “If we are not able to make our systems safe, then all other security is useless.”

He was speaking as 65,000 school pupils take part in an annual competition in France, with the backing of the DGSE, in decoding and cryptography.

Matthieu Lequesne of the National Research Institute for Digital Science and Technology (INRIA) and one of the co-organisers of the competition said that “behind the maths, logic, computer science, the stakes are political.

“If we want to take advantage of artificial intelligence, for big data to work, it has to deal with tonnes of data that belong to individuals,” he said.

“And we have to make sure that the platforms that handle this data don’t learn anything about us. So the way to respond is good cryptography.”

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Damon Mitchell

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