Here are the winners of Cyber X Mind4Future, experiential cyber security training sponsored by Leonardo and CYBER 4.0

Rome,  18 April 2023 13:15

An awards ceremony was held today in Rome for the winners of Cyber X Mind4Future, the evolved, experiential training program on cybersecurity designed by Leonardo, among the top world players in Aerospace, Defense and Security, and CYBER 4.0, a national cybersecurity competence center promoted by the Ministry of Enterprises and Made in Italy.

10 students, who excelled in the training program, were awarded a Leonardo-funded scholarship. Launched in December 2022, the course was attended by about 500 students from the 8 universities members of the Center (Sapienza, Tor Vergata, Roma Tre, LUISS Guido Carli, Campus Biomedico, Tuscia, Cassino and Lazio Meridionale, and L'Aquila). With a total of 15 hours of lectures, workshops and 4 days of exercises on highly realistic simulated scenarios, the program alternated classroom training with moments of real immersion in the cyber threat.

With Cyber X Mind4Future Leonardo and CYBER 4.0 are helping to respond to the growing needs of the market by offering young university students an opportunity to increase skills and experiment with frontier technology solutions in an area, cybersecurity, where the demand for jobs far exceeds the supply.

In fact, according to a report by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)², by 2022, the skill-gap in cyber security was more than 3.4 million positions globally, while the World Economic Forum's Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023 shows that only 46% of cyber leaders in companies believe their organization has the skills and people needed to deal with a cyber-attack. Also, according to WEF, for 64% of global cyber leaders, hiring and retaining talent is a key challenge in managing cyber resilience.

"2023 is the European Year of Competencies and investing in hard and soft skills is essential to ensure cyber security, a key building block for a digital and technologically autonomous, cutting-edge Italy and Europe," recalled Tommaso Profeta, Managing Director of Leonardo's Cyber & Security Solutions Division. "As Leonardo we are committed, alongside institutions and academia, to develop the professional skills needed to meet this challenge, with our Cyber & Security Academy and with initiatives such as Cyber X Mind4Future. Collaboration with the education system is confirmed as one of Leonardo's main levers to attract the best talent and fuel continuous innovation."

"CYBER 4.0 has training as one of the cornerstones of its mission," said Leonardo Querzoni, President of the CYBER 4.0 Competence Center. "It is precisely in this context that the Cyber X Mind4Future initiative was born, which immediately found the interest of the universities part of our center, and which CYBER 4.0 wanted to support with strength and conviction. The model of experiential education, adopted by Cyber X Mind4Future, represents from our point of view, the most effective approach to create a link between the world of academic education and industrial reality, allowing students to assess firsthand what professional opportunities the near future holds for them."

Among the topics covered in the course: cryptography, binary code analysis, security of computer systems and networks. To train hard and soft skills, an integral part of the training was also a "capture the flag" style "game": answering a sequence of questions of increasing complexity along a virtual course that simulated the activities of analyzing and handling a real cyber security incident, students competed in a "cyber threat hunt" that allowed them to acquire technical skills and learn how to apply the correct behaviors to successfully deal with cyber-attacks. The 72 students who excelled in the competition then moved on to the last phase of Cyber X Mind4Future: hands-on training on Leonardo's Cyber Range platform. Used by cyber security experts in Italy and abroad to improve the ability to respond to cyber threats, the platform allowed students to measure themselves, both individually and in teams, in defense exercises against simulated attacks launched by Leonardo's ethical hackers on a totally realistic virtualized scenario. Specifically, a series of five cyber-attacks was implemented toward a fictitious company, faithfully replicated thanks to the Cyber Range, that the students were called upon to protect. One of the attacks included the attempt by Leonardo's ethical hackers to steal employee passwords (a so-called “brute force” attack) in order to exfiltrate company data. A second scenario was that of a ransomware attack (among the most widespread and most lucrative malware for cyber criminals) aimed at demanding ransom in exchange for unlocking the compromised system.

The 10 Leonardo-funded scholarships were awarded to:

  • 5.000 euro for the first place winner, Edoardo Manenti (Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”)
  • 3.000 EUR for the second place winner, Matteo Capricci (Università degli Studi dell’Aquila)
  • 2.500 EUR for the third place winner, Fabio Livorno (Sapienza Università di Roma)
  • 2.000 EUR for the fourth place winner, Andrea De Filippis (Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”)
  • 1.500 EUR for the fifth place winner, Giandomenico Casoli (Sapienza Università di Roma)
  • 1.000 EUR each for the sixth through the tenth place winner: Christian Felicione (Università degli Studi dell’Aquila), Elisabetta Chiusoli (Sapienza Università di Roma), Riccardo Luzi (Sapienza Università di Roma), Luca Saverio Esposito (Università degli Studi di Roma “Tor Vergata”) e Davide Renzetti (Sapienza Università di Roma).

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