Young Cyber Security Academy kicks off, Leonardo at the forefront of the project to promote cyber security in schools

06 June 2022

The project, spearheaded by Alessandro Curioni, a leading expert in computer security, sees the direct involvement of Leonardo, which is constantly committed to spreading a strong security culture at national and supranational level. This initiative falls within the scope of our activities to promote scientific citizenship and STEM disciplines among the younger generations, one of the pillars of Leonardo’s Sustainability Plan.

Bringing the topic of computer security into schools to train informed web users and raise awareness of the dangers of the web by involving students and teachers in digital education. The Young Cyber Security Academy was founded with this aim in mind. This project by Alessandro Curioni (university lecturer in information security, writer and trainer) responds to the need to bring the topic of computer security into schools. Its goal is to train informed web users and – potentially – future professionals in the sector. Two exceptional partners, Leonardo and Plenitude, accompany him in this ambitious initiative – which seeks to involve every school in Italy.

For Leonardo, participation in the initiative further demonstrates its commitment to propagating a solid security culture both nationally and supranationally. This commitment took the form of the recent creation of the Cyber & Security Academy – a high-level training centre created to provide institutions, critical infrastructures and companies with the skills and capabilities needed to support the digital transition and cope with threats to national security. The project is also a concrete example of promoting scientific citizenship and STEM disciplines among the younger generations. This is one of the pillars of the company’s Sustainability Plan and is in line with the objectives of the UN 2030 Agenda, with a view to strengthening skills and the innovation pipeline, with a particular focus on the inclusion of girls.

Plenitude, which has always been aware of the issues of cybersecurity and of protecting corporate assets, has chosen to support Alessandro Curioni’s initiative. Its aim in doing so is to help promote and strengthen the culture of cybersecurity among young people, who become key players in this project, creating a virtuous circle in terms of awareness, and involving families to the fullest extent.

This partnership has born fruit in the form of a book entitled ‘Manuale di prevenzione e primo soccorso per nativi digitali. Guida alle trap e ai pericoli del mondo virtuale’ (Prevention and First Aid Manual for Digital Natives. Guide to the traps and dangers of the virtual world), a text enriched with illustrations by Bonelli Kids, courtesy of Sergio Bonelli Editore. The volume will be available free to teachers. In two versions (one for students and one for teachers), the book deals neatly with the main topics of cyber security, providing the essentials needed to avoid falling into the traps of the web. Each section also features exercise sheets helpful to test class learning.

But the first Young Cyber Security Academy project does not stop there. Schools adopting the text will receive access to a dedicated portal where the web series entitled “Gli irregolari del web” (‘Web mavericks’) will be available. The children of the staff of the partner companies entirely wrote, scripted, acted and filmed this 12-episode series in the first initiative of the Young Cyber Security Academy.

The series will show a group of male and female students grappling with off-screen investigations. The participants will deal with the biggest web-based threats, resolving potentially critical situations to prevent further cyber-attacks.

The Young Cyber Security Academy is a permanent non-profit initiative whose philosophy is fun-based learning. It will be followed, upon request, by a meeting in participating schools throughout Italy. During these events, Alessandro Curioni and the professionals supporting the initiative will meet students, parents and teachers, discussing the project’s key topics such as cyberbullying, social networks, revenge porn, identity theft, electronic register violations, IoT and much more.

This tour will lead to future initiatives – first and foremost, that of involving students in the building of a real digital education programme for young people.