Home Lifestyle Jean-Michel Henard, co-founder of Dust Mobile: “Mobile phones have in many cases become the Achilles’ heel of companies and countries”

Jean-Michel Henard, co-founder of Dust Mobile: “Mobile phones have in many cases become the Achilles’ heel of companies and countries”

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Founded in 2017, Dust Mobile has developed “SIM Cybercell”: Communication and SIM Card Security Solution for Governments and Businesses. Last November, the company managed to complete a funding round of 12 million with Tikehau, Omnes and the Defense Innovation Fund, which was partnered by the Ministry of the Armed Forces and managed by Bpifrance. Scaleup co-founder Jean-Michel Henard agreed to Forbes France to tell us more about his development ambitions.

How did you come up with the idea to create Dust Mobile?

I come from the fields of communications, defense and security such as Airbus Defense or Thales. The idea was to see if we could provide more security for mobile transmissions, in anticipation of the explosion of cyber threats weighing on the sector. So much so that in January 2017 we started 3 years of research and development with François Dormison with the primary objective of covering areas of risk that were not considered in relation to mobile communications cyber defense. So we worked on developing an offer that complements the already existing offerings.

Between 2017 and 2019, we funded our research and development efforts with our own money. Then, we completed a €3 million funding round in 2019 in order to unveil our technology solution to the market. It was the first step to realizing how our solution really met expectations.

The first generation of Dust Mobile has won and we have received many positive feedbacks. It is now being adopted in many industrial and government settings and in sectors such as banking and finance, transportation, energy, auditing, etc. 50% of our customers are in the public sector and 50% are in the private sector, 50% of our customers are based in Europe and about 30% are in North America.

The fundraising of 12 million euros last November will allow us to expand our presence in many countries such as Germany, Spain and Great Britain. It also aims to support our growth because we are experiencing very strong demand.

What is the principle of Dust Mobile?

We designed a proprietary, robust and perfected SIM card as a complete confidence tool, and a means of fully securing mobile communications anywhere in the world. We now cover 684 mobile networks worldwide and remain agnostic about the equipment and application solutions our customers use. These protection measures are genuine and transparent to the user and make it possible to deal with all kinds of network attacks – such as the risk of malicious interception or geolocation without their knowledge, for example.

We are the leader in this new sector of mobile cyber defense operators and contribute to a sovereign security chain thanks to many partners such as Tehtris, Pradeo and Ercom, among others. This channel is available to governments, OIV (Operators of Vitality), or companies that wish to defend themselves against any attempt at economic espionage.

How do you differentiate yourself in the somewhat saturated cyber security market?

The range of attack surfaces is vast. Dust Mobile focuses on and covers all aspects of mobile transmissions. Our role is to detect them, alert our customers, and automatically deploy countermeasures. Our solution is not intrusive and the employee does not have to change their habits.

At the same time, we campaign to protect the continuity of risk management that pertains to all subcontracting chains from principals to sub-assemblies suppliers. This is even more important today with the dominance of mobile phones in the exchange of sensitive personal and sometimes professional data. In many cases, they have become the Achilles heel of companies and countries.

The first challenge was to respond to the security of specific use cases and operational needs, then the challenge focused on resilience and the fact of being able to ensure continuity of services even in the context of a crisis scenario. In fact, cyber defense relies on the two pillars of security and resilience. Finally, the third challenge relates to the fact of responding to a rich user experience with operator services such as unified communications and remote work, which have witnessed a significant leap since the health crisis.

How do you assess the state of maturity of organizations in facing cyber security issues?

We are past the stage of preaching about cyber risks and there is no doubt that recent high profile cyber attacks have made it possible to accelerate awareness of these topics. The same applies to the risks associated with cell phones and other connected things that should not be underestimated.

Today, we are more demanding to meet specific needs: in other words, we support our customers in deploying our solutions without restrictions regarding their own models and security standards. Thus, we sometimes support all subsidiaries of an internationally established group.

What good practice recommendations would you make to companies regarding mobile security?

My main recommendation is always to question the level of trust you place in your devices, your app, or the network you are connected to such as wifi, of course outside of your workplace or home.

What are your development ambitions for 2023?

First human and collective. Our ambition is to double our talented workforce by next year to 60 employees. I also invite those who are passionate about cyber defense, are embarking on a career or have experience in our fields, to be interested in Dust Mobile.

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