Jean-Michel Henrard, co-founder of Dust Mobile: “Mobile phones have in many cases become the Achilles heels of companies and States” – Forbes France

Founded in 2017, Dust Mobile has developed “SIM Cybercell”: a communications and SIM card protection 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, subscribed by the Ministry of the Armed Forces and managed by Bpifrance. Jean Michel Henrard, co-founder of the scaleup, agreed for Forbes France to tell us more about his development ambitions.

How did you come up with the idea of ​​creating Dust Mobile?

I come from the fields of telecoms and Defense and Security industries such as Airbus Defense or Thales. The idea was to find out if we could bring more security to mobile transmissions, in anticipation of the explosion of cyber threats weighing on the sector. So much so that in January 2017, we initiated 3 years of R&D with François d’Ormesson with the primary objective of covering the risk areas not taken into account in terms of cyber defense of mobile communications. We have therefore worked on the development of an offer that complements those that already exist.

Between 2017 and 2019, we financed our R&D effort with our own funds. Then, we completed a funding round of 3 million euros in 2019 in order to expose our technical solution to the market. It was a first step to realize how much our solution really met expectations.

The first generation of Dust-Mobile seduced and we received many positive feedbacks. It is now adopted in several industrial and governmental environments and in sectors such as banking, finance, transport, energy, auditing, etc. 50% of our customers are in the public sector and 50% in the private sector , 50% of our customers are based in Europe and approximately 30% in North America.

Our fundraising of 12 million euros last November will allow us to expand our presence in several countries such as Germany, Spain and Great Britain. It is also intended to support our growth because we are facing very strong demand.

What is the principle of Dust Mobile?

We have designed a proprietary, hardened and mastered SIM card, as a fully-fledged trust tool, a means of fully securing the means of mobile communication anywhere in the world. We now cover 684 mobile networks across the globe and we remain agnostic both with regard to the equipment and the application solutions used by our customers. These protection measures are native, transparent for the user and make it possible to deal with all types of network attacks – such as the risk of malicious interception or being geolocated without their knowledge, for example.

We are the leader in this new segment of mobile cyber defense operators and we contribute to a sovereign security chain thanks to numerous partners such as, among others, Tehtris, Pradeo and Ercom. This channel is made available to governments, OIV (operators of vital importance) or companies wishing to defend themselves against any attempt at economic espionage.

How do you differentiate yourself in a rather saturated cybersecurity market?

The field of attack surfaces is vast. Dust Mobile focuses and covers that related to mobile transmissions. Our role to detect them, alert our customers and automatically deploy countermeasures. Our solution is not intrusive and the employee does not have to change his habits.

At the same time, we are campaigning for the protection of a risk management continuum which concerns all the subcontracting chains from the principals to the suppliers of sub-assemblies. This is all the more important today with the preponderance of mobile phones in the exchange of sometimes sensitive personal and professional data. In many cases, they have become the Achilles’ heels of companies and States.

The first challenge was to respond to the security of use cases and specific 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 scenario of crisis. Indeed, cyber defense is based on these two pillars of security and resilience. And finally, the third challenge concerns the fact of responding to an enriched user experience with operator services such as unified communications, teleworking which has experienced a great leap since the health crisis.

How do you assess the state of maturity of organizations in the face of cybersecurity issues?

We have passed the stage of evangelization on cyber risks and there is no doubt that the recent high-profile cyberattacks have made it possible to accelerate awareness of these subjects. The same is true for the risks associated with mobile phones and other connected objects that should not be underestimated.

Today, we are more in demand to meet specific needs: in other words, we support our customers in the deployment of our solutions without constraint as regards their models and their own security criteria. Thus, we sometimes even support all the subsidiaries of a group established internationally.

What good practice recommendations would you make to companies in terms of mobile security?

My main recommendation is to always question the level of trust you place in your equipment, your application, the network on which you connect such as wifi, of course outside your workplace or home. .

What are your development ambitions for 2023?

First human and collective. Our ambition is to double our talent workforce by next year to reach 60 employees. I also invite those who are passionate about cyber defense, are embarking on a professional life or have experience in our fields, to take an interest in Dust Mobile.

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Jean-Michel Henrard, co-founder of Dust Mobile: “Mobile phones have in many cases become the Achilles heels of companies and States” – Forbes France


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