Cyber Campus: EPITA is now, more than ever, at the heart of cybersecurity!

On Wednesday, June 29, EPITA officially inaugurated its new Cyber Campus. A project initiated by the French President, with the school being a founding member, this large 25,000m² building in the business district of La Défense (92) aims to bring together in one location all national public, private and academic players in the field of cybersecurity. With extensive experience in the sector, EPITA could not resist participating in this audacious challenge!

From left to right: Cyber Campus: Philippe Dewost, Managing Director of EPITA, Fabrice Bardèche, Executive Vice President of the IONIS Group and Joël Courtois, Director of the Cyber Project at EPITA © Laurent Guichardon

EPITA and cybersecurity, a “long shared history”

State representatives, CEOs and professionals from large companies and, of course, the school’s alumni and current students were some of the many who attended a meeting organized by EPITA, Wednesday evening at 5 Rue Bellini, to show its premises and underline its commitment to the project, which is a first in Europe. We have been part of the Cyber Campus adventure from the start, and EPITA has made a major financial commitment to the project,” said Fabrice Bardèche, Executive Vice President of the IONIS Group. Being part of the Cyber Campus means building close relationships with cybersecurity companies and giving greater visibility to our cybersecurity activities, in a sector where we have a certain reputation. Indeed, when the IONIS Group joined forces with EPITA in 1994, our IT security positioning was already key. Playing a role in this initiative is hence in line with our past commitments! Bringing together all the key players in the field (including the seven other major shareholders: Atos, Beijaflore, Capgemini, CESIN, Gatewatcher, Wavestone and Orange Cyberdefense), this new type of campus is “the logical continuation of a long shared history” linking the engineering school and the “cyber” industry.

Philippe Dewost, theschool’s managing director, was delighted to celebrate this crucial partnership in style.  The inauguration was not only an opportunity to “remind people that EPITA is the only school among the founding members of the Cyber Campus and the only institute of higher education” to have such a large space, “it is also a sign of the school’s excellence and reputation.  This is not the first time EPITA has made a name for itself in the field of cybersecurity.  The school participates in the FIC, organizing the yearly forensic challenge, it plays a role in DEFNET, it collaborates on the Livres Blancs des Assises de la Cybersécuritéwhite papers and, even more recently, it hosted Locked Shields 2022, which brought more than 80 people from the French team to the Kremlin-Bicêtre campus for 10 days and 10 nights! “ Ties have already been established between Kremlin-Bicêtre and the Cyber Campus. For example, on the second floor of the building where it is located, EPITA has been hosting students from its Bachelor’s degree in Digital Security (Cybersecurity) since April.

© Laurent Guichardon

The students were won over

Julien Cohen-Scali, who attended the event to speak about his career path (and his recent participation in the France 2030 plan consultation), is a member of the first class of this three-year professional training program, whose curriculum was drawn up with the help of an Advisory Board made up of industrialists, major groups and startups that are members of the Campus. For this young cybersecurity enthusiast – and, incidentally, the son of an EPITA alumnus – being able to walk the halls of this unique place is a real opportunity. “We’ve all been waiting to attend classes here: the Campus was one of the reasons I decided to join the Bachelor program,” he says.” I’ve already been able to speak with a few professionals here. They are all happy about having students on the premises because they know that the cyber industry also needs new blood. Thanks to EPITA’s reputation, they trust us and hope to work with us in the future. If I get a job directly after my bachelor’s degree in two years’ time, I could see myself joining one or two companies on the Campus that I’ve already been able to talk with!”

Several speeches were given at the inauguration, under the aegis of Floriane Alixe (EPITA class of 2012), today COO at HarfangLab, also a member of the Cyber Campus / On the right, Arthur Naullet (class of 2023), SRS Major © Laurent Guichardon

While the Bachelor students are delighted with this new “spot”, they are not the only learners to venture there. The premises are also open to our SRS and TCOM majors, who regularly meet with the companies on site,” explains Philippe Dewost. In fact, generally speaking, whenever a group of students is working on a topic related to cybersecurity, they are always welcome at our center on the 2nd floor, regardless of their major. Giovanni Le Bail (EPITA class of 2025), who is preparing to leave the school’s campus in Rennes for its Parisian counterpart, is excited about this invitation. As founder of the Hack Drink Flag Repeat (HDFR) association, whose eponymous team regularly excels at Capture The Flag (CTF) events such as European Cyber Week 2021, he hopes to take advantage of the Cyber Campus to unite all EPITA students with a passion for cybersecurity under the HDFR banner, thus enabling the young structure to continue to stand out in competitions. For Giovanni, good cybersecurity cannot be achieved without unity: “The real challenge in the cybersecurity sector is to be able to bring everyone together, from agents working in this field to IT professionals in the broadest sense, because cyber is everywhere: in the smallest program right up to artificial intelligence and networks. It’s at the heart of every project, and if it’s not, it should be!”

Julien Cohen-Scali and Giovanni Le Bail (© Laurent Guichardon)

Strength in numbers!

This notion of sharing is also present in the latest EPITA component on the Cyber Campus: the SECURESPHERE by EPITA continuing education center. Now located in the heart of the tower and therefore within elevator range of all its clients and expert partners, it is part of EPITA’s desire to always look to the future and never rest on its laurels. Marie Moin, its director, explains: “Our presence here allows us to be completely immersed in the cybersecurity ecosystem, making it easier to communicate with all professionals and industrialists in the sector in order to discuss their needs and hence update our training programs. Of course, we didn’t wait for the Cyber Campus to identify these needs and have already forged close ties with the entire ecosystem, but we’re moving even faster now!” The proof is in the upcoming launch of a long, highly technical cybersecurity program designed in collaboration with IBM and Deloitte, two neighboring entities.

Marie Moin, director of SECURESPHERE by EPITA © Laurent Guichardon

Although it obviously serves those who take one of its many security-related courses, the new SECURESPHERE by EPITA location also helps raise awareness among web development and programming students. “We are very lucky to have all the people who work to secure companies and the State in one location. Coming here allows them to discover this vast cyber ecosystem, through institutions, industrial players, and training centers…. Faced with this reality, our students better understand why we include cyber skills in their program. It’s simple: everyone working in companies today need to be trained in digital security!” A vision that echoes the motto displayed on the building’s welcome screen: “Cyber, some talk about it, others do it”. “And at EPITA, we train them,” adds Phillipe Dewost.

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