New world. Former Qwant boss launches personal data-friendly cybersecurity solution


Eric Léandri, the former CEO of Qwant in Nice, October 9, 2019.
Eric Léandri, the former CEO of Qwant in Nice, October 9, 2019 (ERIC OTTINO / MAXPPP)

President for 10 years of the French search engine Qwant, Éric Léandri now heads the company Altrnativ, which is preparing to market a solution, based on CEA patents, to fight cyberattacks. The principle consists in monitoring the connections at the level of the Internet network itself, without intercepting the data.

franceinfo: what does your cybersecurity solution consist of?

Éric Léandri, founder and CEO of Altrnativ : The idea is to fight against what is happening, for example, at the moment in our town halls. Sometimes employees receive a letter with a promise to win 100 euros in a lottery. Unfortunately, this is not a lottery but ransomware-type malware that will encrypt data and block hundreds of computers.

Against this, we have developed a network-level security system over 25,000 kilometers of fiber across Europe that monitors your connections to verify the authenticity of the sites you connect to. This is a solution that is based on patents from the CEA.

How is this solution respectful of users’ personal data?

Without going into technical terms, our idea is to replace VPNs, these tools used to secure and anonymize the connections of companies, which have the defect of collecting and reselling your data. You know I don’t like to sell your data and I don’t like to know what you are doing on the internet. So, we secure upstream and we have no information about the sites you visit. Our solution is aimed at private companies or public bodies, such as town halls or hospitals, but also at the general public. We will launch, in April or May, iOS and Android applications integrating this system.

Looking back, do you think the French search engine Qwant, which you ran, is a success or a failure?

We started against Google with a 0% market share. In the end, Qwant managed to climb to 5%, then 10%. It is used today by 40 million Internet users every day. Who would have thought that even the State would one day switch to a French engine? So, no, it’s not a failure. Especially, when we have always been predicted that we would not exceed 0%.


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