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ICT and Cybersecurity

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are technologies that enable the collection, processing, storage, transmission and dissemination of information. ICTs thus encompass all the technologies that have emerged since the end of the 20th century, such as mobile telephony, the Internet, social networks, audiovisual technologies, videoconferencing, cloud computing and the Internet of Things.

Cybersecurity, for its part, is the set of technical, organizational and legal measures put in place to protect computer systems, networks, connected devices and personal data against malicious attacks, data leaks and acts of cybercrime. Cybersecurity aims to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of digital data, as well as the protection of users’ privacy. It involves the implementation of security policies, risk management processes and IT security tools such as firewalls, antivirus software, intrusion detection systems, encryption systems, digital certificates and security protocols.
Among the emerging technologies used in cybersecurity, blockchain occupies an important place. Blockchain is a technology for storing and transmitting information, enabling the creation of replicated and distributed registers, with no central control body, secured by cryptography, and structured by blocks linked to each other at regular time intervals. The blockchain guarantees the authenticity and traceability of transactions, and eliminates the need for intermediaries and central control entities. As a result, it is a disruptive technology with the potential to revolutionize several sectors where security and transparency are key issues. The future of finance, healthcare data sharing, digital identity management, product traceability, intellectual property, voting management, the energy sector and the arts could all depend on it. Blockchains can be public or private. The best-known public blockchains are those used for crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Private blockchains are mainly used in professional and industrial contexts.

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the annual global cost of cybercriminal activity could exceed $10T by 2025. Cybersecurity is therefore a major concern for governments, businesses and individuals, who need to implement effective security policies to protect themselves against cyberthreats.
ICTs and cybersecurity technologies are interdependent and evolve in a complementary way. As there are many interconnections between these disciplines, it is natural to find them in the same innovation ecosystem.

San Francisco

The network of innovation players in the San Francisco Bay Area is extremely favorable to the development of ICT. Silicon Valley has been the cradle of successive waves of innovation that have built today’s digital world, from integrated circuits in the 1960s, to personal computers, the Internet, the smartphone, the emergence of social networks, right up to today, when the metaverse, web3 and generative artificial intelligence are vying for the next technological wave. To date, the presence of all these tools of innovation in a single location remains a unique configuration on a global scale. The proliferation of startup facilities, both within and beyond the academic world, is a real opportunity for entrepreneurs in the Bay Area. It’s a fact that these structures are extremely agile, and have managed to avoid the pitfall of competition by adapting to the diversity of company profiles. As an example, Playground Global only supports medium- and long-term projects with a strong technological breakthrough and a global impact, while Silicon Catalyst is still the only specialist in the integration and industrialization of silicon technologies.

In terms of cybersecurity applications, blockchain owes its notoriety in the San Francisco Bay Area to its many applications, mainly related to finance and cryptocurrency, driven by emerging companies such as Coinbase, Ripple and Block, Inc.

The region’s universities have been quick to take up the theme: University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley) has opened the Center for Decentralized and Responsible Intelligencea multidisciplinary initiative that aims to strengthen education, research and entrepreneurship at the intersection of computer science, finance and law; the Blockchain at Berkeley student association aims to encourage innovative blockchain-related projects, through the Blockchain Xceleratorwhich supports entrepreneurs in identifying use cases, developing prototypes and raising funds. At Stanford University, the focus is on research and education in the multidisciplinary Center for Blockchain Research (CBR), to address the technical challenges of using blockchain.

In addition to universities, a number of other organizations are interested in accelerating and investing in blockchain startups, including Coinbase Ventures and Plug and Play Tech Center, as well as investors specializing in new financial technologies, or fintech, such as Silicon FinTech Bay, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and Boost VC. Considerable funds have been raised by entrepreneurial success stories: Forte ($910M), which enables video game developers to integrate blockchain into their production, Alchemy ($563M), which offers a development platform to democratize the use of blockchain, and Helium ($364M), which aims to create a decentralized wireless network.

This craze is relayed by associations such as Fintech Silicon Valley and theSilicon Valley Blockchain Society (SVBS) which frequently organize events in Silicon Valley. Similarly, the annual The Blockchain Expo North America in Santa Clara brings together investors, entrepreneurs and developers to discuss the future of blockchain.

Washington DC

The location of government institutions in the DMV region (DC, Maryland, Virginia) encourages the development of ICT’s. As the capital of the United States, Washington DC is home to national security agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), all of which contribute to a stimulating environment for cybersecurity innovation in the DMV region. Dulles Technology Corridor, also known as Data Center Alley, the cluster of defense and technology companies clustered in Northern Virginia, boasts the world’s largest concentration of data storage centers, including Alphabet (Google) and Amazon.

The region’s universities, including Georgetown University, George Washington University and University of Maryland, are also important players in the creation of a strong ICT and cybersecurity ecosystem, offering high-quality training programs and research opportunities for students and professionals in telecommunications and cybersecurity. For example, Georgetown University offers a Master’s in Cybersecurity Risk Management with direct links to industry and major cybersecurity organizations, while the University of Maryland offers a Master’s in Telecommunication in conjunction with Juniper Networking Laboratory. Initiatives such as Cyber Watch and The Cyber Security Forum Initiative raise students’ awareness of risk management and connect them to the national professional network on the subject.

The presence of major companies such as Amazon Web Services, Allied Telecom, Aquicore, Tenable, Octo and Cyren of the Business Software Alliance, and of organizations such as the Maryland-based National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), reinforces the dynamics of innovation in ICT and cybersecurity in the Washington DC ecosystem. The concentration of structures supporting innovation in IT security accelerates the development of new ideas. Dcode, for example, at the interface between government, business and startups, has supported more than a hundred technology startups to connect them to the federal market; in Washington DC, SparkLabs has launched a program called Cyber+Blockchain dedicated to startups working on cybersecurity and blockchain; the Fed Tech focuses on bringing together startups, large companies and government agencies with the aim of accelerating the deployment of disruptive technologies in key areas, including ICT and cybersecurity.

The fundraisings confirm the importance of the sector in the DMV region, which boasts a host of success stories, including Rebellion Defense ($150M), which uses artificial intelligence for national defense and cybersecurity missions, Virtru ($140M), which specializes in data encryption and digital privacy, and DNSFilter ($46M), which uses artificial intelligence to block malicious websites.

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