Orange puts cybersecurity at the heart of its growth plans

Yanitsa Boyadzhieva
By Yanitsa Boyadzhieva

Nov 25, 2022

Hugues Foulon, CEO of Orange Cyberdefense (left) and Christel Heydemann, Orange Group CEO (right).

Hugues Foulon, CEO of Orange Cyberdefense (left) and Christel Heydemann, Orange Group CEO (right).

  • Orange places cybersecurity at the forefront of its growth strategy
  • It plans to invest heavily through acquisitions and headcount expansion
  • The company believes its telco background differentiates it from other cybersecurity players

LYON, France – Orange Group has unveiled plans to invest heavily in the development of cybersecurity services and specialist security staff, with CEO Christel Heydemann (above right) highlighting cybersecurity services as vital for both the giant French telco’s growth and society in general.

During a presentation at one of the telco’s security division offices in France on Friday, Orange Cyberdefense (OCD), in the French city of Lyon, Heydemann explained that as online attacks increase, cybersecurity “is not a cost, it’s an investment”. 

Orange also released some of the headline details of its Security Navigator 2023 report that highlights the increasing pressure being placed on companies and public sector organisations of all sizes by the increasing volumes and sophistication of cybersecurity attacks – see Security Navigator 2023 shows Cyber Extortion dominates landscape as 40% is malware. This is why the operator decided “a long time ago” to invest in cybersecurity and plans to continue increasing the investment, added Heydemann.

She did not provide figures for the investments made by OCD when asked by TelecomTV about specifics, but noted that the unit has invested “so much – we purchased many companies, this is a fact – in non-organic growth and organic as well”.

The Orange CEO highlighted the recent purchase of two companies based in Switzerland, SCRT and Telsys, as examples. It also acquired SecureLink in 2019 for €500m.

She also noted that Orange invests more than €7bn per year in its networks and systems across the group’s international operations.

Apart from acquisitions, in 2023 the company also plans to invest in the recruitment of 600 staff members for its cybersecurity team in France alone. Heydemann urged hackers, architects, analysts and other specialists in the cybersecurity field to join the company.

Targeting customers

The CEO, who is putting a great deal of strategic emphasis on meeting the needs of enterprise users as she revamps the telco’s business and operational focus, stressed Orange’s ambition to “be a pioneer in cyber protection for people, customers and society more broadly,” and claimed the operator is different from other cybersecurity players because it’s not only able to deliver solutions on a technological level but can also leverage its telecoms infrastructure to provider a broader and more extensive service. 

Hugues Foulon, CEO of Orange Cyberdefense (above left), claimed OCD is already a leader in France and Belgium and is perceived as a challenger in the two leading IT markets in Europe – the UK and Germany. Foulon added that OCD is not yet operational in Italy and Spain.

“Our aim is to grow [faster] than the market. We’re trying to grow at a rate of 10% to 15%,” and the aim has been to reach €1bn in annual turnover. “By the end of November 2022, we’ve already reached this objective”, noted Foulon , though he declined to disclose any details on margins and profitability.

Foulon explained that OCD isn’t focusing its cybersecurity services on any specific industry verticals, but noted the particular demands of companies in the finance sector, such as banks and insurance companies, which are already some of Orange’s historical customers. “They have big needs because IT is even more critical there than elsewhere”, he noted.

Looking ahead, he expects the manufacturing industry to emerge in the next five years as a high-growth sector for OCD and become as important as the financial services industry.  

Responding to a question from TelecomTV regarding the development of quantum-based technology solutions, Jose Araujo, CTO of Orange Cyberdefense, noted that while the operator doesn’t currently have any developments of its own, it does “track this very closely” and contributes to algorithms that are being worked on by the team of 700 researchers at Orange Innovation.

“On the quantum cryptographic side of things – we do not develop solutions, we must be able to track and understand this technology [so we can] implement it within our networks and configure it correctly. We’re up to date with this,” he added. 

- Yanitsa Boyadzhieva, Deputy Editor, TelecomTV

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