In a context where digital transformation is taking place in the defence sector, accelerated by a tense geopolitical situation, the aerospace and defence group Airbus is also accelerating in the field of cybersecurity. The company will reorganise its cybersecurity services activities into a single organization from 1 July.
The Council of Europe on 30-31 May announced that “The European Union…. will increase its security and defence capabilities through more and better investment, focusing on identified strategic shortfalls”. The joint study by the European Commission and the European Defence Agency highlighted that these shortfalls are in air defence, space and cybersecurity. In the United States, events are also accelerating in the field of cybersecurity and cyberdefence. The Pentagon has awarded contracts worth almost $6 billion for the US armed forces in 2021.
For Airbus, these announced changes represent a development perspective with contracts to be collected. On the eve of the International Cybersecurity Forum (FIC), from 7 to 9 June 2022, the Airbus group unveiled, on Thursday 2 June, a reorganisation of its cybersecurity activities; Airbus will set up the “Protect” entity from 1 July, grouping together the service activities of Airbus Cybersecurity and Apsys, although there are some questions from those who regret that the activities linked to military programmes and software publishing are not included in the operation. Airbus Protect’s business will be refocused on cybersecurity services with those of Airbus subsidiary Absys, which specialises in industrial security and risk management. The Defense & Space connected intelligence activities are not concerned by this refocusing.
Airbus Protect will concern 1,200 people from France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain. Its missions are complementary to those in software publishing (via in particular the acquisition of Stormshield, ex Arkoon and Netasq) mobilizing nearly 400 employees or even programs and projects for government services also totaling around 400 people. This reorganization would have benefited from a broad approval of the authorities of the staff and trade unions.
In parallel with this reorganization, Airbus continues to strengthen its know-how potential with an increase in its investments and a company takeover policy. For example, its subsidiary Stormshield will benefit from an investment plan essentially focused on R&D activities. The company, which brings together 400 experts and offers data, terminal and network security solutions, will thus strengthen the capabilities and performance of its products and accelerate the development of its international activities. Without forgetting the Airbus teams, ie 400 experts, who will continue to “develop their expertise and their activity for the benefit of customers and programs in the defense and space sectors”.
Airbus aims to gain agility in a highly competitive sector, Protect being an entity considered more agile in terms of organisation, processes and responsiveness. Thus, Apsys, for the Cerean project, is absorbing an activity that would be more efficient in a specialised structure subject to strong competitive pressure and which does not bear all the burdens of the group, as the FO Airbus trade union noted at the beginning of the year.
By merging Airbus Cybersecurity services with those of Apsys, Airbus will optimise costs and allow for better communication and collaboration between the teams.
This new change at Airbus in defence is part of a broader desire to renew the group, driven by international issues, as shown by the post-covid dynamics of the subsidiary Airbus Helicopters.