The almost systematic use of encryption especially by extremist movements, paedophiles, drug traffickers and terrorists is making it increasingly difficult for investigators to make use of digital data.

Introduction and description of the project

The aim of the CERBERUS (Child Exploitation Response by Beating Encryption and Research to Unprotect Systems) project is to take control of the entire security chain through the development and implementation of a European decryption platform to block criminal groups including terrorists, political extremists, drug traffickers and perpetrators of sexual exploitation.

The Forensic Research Institute of the French Gendarmerie (IRCGN – Institut de Recherche Criminelle de la Gendarmerie Nationale) set up the project in partnership with the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI), University College Dublin – National University of Ireland (UCD) and CIVIPOL.

Current activities

The two main components of the CERBERUS project are:

  1. Research and development through:
  • low-level performance: identifying the various hardware components dedicated to encryption and their protection
  • operating system: analysing the operating system and its interactions with the lower layers to detect and exploit vulnerabilities
  • application layer: analysing the reverse engineering of applications to reveal the cryptographic algorithms used, extracting the possible encryption keys and determining the date storage methods.
  • script development: countering the cryptography or the implementation of software modules which allow passords to be cracked via powerul graphic cards

     2. The ability to crack passwords through the creation of high availability password cracking platform with the latest generation hardware.

Role of the French Ministry of the Interior

The IRCGN under the French Ministry of the Interior is the consortium leader.

CIVIPOL is tasked with the project’s financial and administrative management on behalf of the Ministry of the Interior

CERBERUS has received funding from the European Union’s Internal Security Fund under agreement no. 822015.

drapeau de l'Union Européenne drapeau de l'Union Européenne

The project in figures


Project status


Partner countries

European technical and scientific laboratries

Target group


The CERBERUS project began on 1 February 2019 for a duration of 24 months.

  • 01 February 2019

    Start of the project

  • 31 January 2021

    Fin du projet

Territorial footprint

About the project

Person in charge of steering


Project status


Funding type

European Union

Contract type