"100 per cent security doesn't exist"

Meet our Student: Giovanni Ferronato

On 1 December,  Giovanni Ferronato started his cybersecurity career at Deloitte in Amsterdam. He just moved to the Dutch capital two weeks ago. He finished his double degree EIT Digital Master School programme in July. One of his learnings was that “100 per cent security doesn’t exist”.

Ferronato easily found a job while still graduating. As part of his master programme Cyber Security, he had completed an internship at Deloitte. “I liked the company environment and the people. I was happy here. So, that is why I applied for a job opening and luckily the response was positive.”

With a new job secured, Ferronato spent July through to December motorbiking across the mountains and seaside of Northern Italy, the region where he comes from.  “I like to drive in Italy. I can cross from the sea to the mountains in one day, witnessing different panoramas within a range of 200 kilometres.”

What did you do during your internship?

“I researched white worms.  I have studied how to use computer worms – viruses – to do good. The technology used in white worms is taken from malicious worms. My thesis is about the design of white worms, and where can we use them. It is an important technology for protecting devices and patching and protecting networks. I proposed that internet service providers (ISP) could use the white worm technology to protect internet-connected devices. I focused mainly on the Internet of Things world and also studied the legal and ethical implications of this technology.”

What was your dream for the future when you were a child?

“I have always been interested in computer science. My grandfather worked for IBM and as a kid I was amazed by the stuff he could do with his desktop computer. At high school, I did a computer science course taught by a nice professor who had his own company. He inspired met  to choose computer science as a bachelor study. There the security part came in naturally. I wanted to understand the weaknesses of my PC and solve them.” 

Why did you choose to study Cybersecurity at the EIT Digital Master School?

“I like cybersecurity, I like to travel, and I wanted an affordable study to help my parents with paying for it. I came to know about the EIT Digital Master School from older friends who were doing this school at the University of Trento and told me about it. Researching a bit more, I found the programme amazing. There was a combination of studying cybersecurity, doing that abroad and it was affordable. This was the right decision to take. Choosing the University of Trento as the entry year was easy to decide. I already had an apartment in Trento. I chose the University of Twente because of the specialisation. I like the human touch at this university.”

How did you find studying abroad?

“The experience was fun. I feel lucky to get to know a lot of people. I joined the university football team in Twente. It was also interesting to see different types of teaching methods.  The education system in Italy is more traditional; it leans on well-known material and there are way more lectures. In the Netherlands, the classes were based on the latest research and discoveries. I liked that, but I also did a lot of research on my own as homework.”

What was your experience of the EIT Digital Master School?

“The expectations I had about the EIT Digital Master School were well met. The school gives a lot of possibilities to EIT Digital students. There are also a lot of events and occasions to meet and talk to other people and create friendships and relations. I did not know about the Kick-Off; I knew about the EIT Digital Summer School. Both the University of Trento and Twente invited a lot of people to present their startups. I did not expect this, but I was happy to have all of it. Those extra-curriculum things give you a broader perspective on what you study when you see them implemented.”

Which Summer School did you do?

“Big Data in Stockholm. I enjoyed it very much and made a lot of new friends. I am interested in Big Data because of its important role in today’s world. It rules society. That is reality. The  Summer School is a perfect occasion to learn something in a different field.“

What is the best thing so far about the EIT Digital Master School?

“The possibilities to meet people. I am friends with people all over the world which I probably wouldn’t have been otherwise. And the double degree makes the education very valuable for the job market. It proves something about you when you have been studying at two universities in two countries. Employers like that. Also, the EIT Digital Master School is more practical and less theoretical than other masters that some of my friends are doing.”

How did you find the innovation and entrepreneurship part of the technical programme?

“Very positive. I see that as an added value of EIT Digital. There are a lot of cybersecurity masters, but only a few provide additional learnings.  In the beginning, I was sceptical about the innovation and entrepreneurship classes. Why would I need that, I thought. But during the two years everything came together and made sense. For example, during the EIT Digital Summer School, we got to use a lot of things we learned. I always mention the innovation and entrepreneurship part in my resume and interviews because it is useful when it comes to finding a job. And it is much appreciated by employers.”

What are the main lessons you have learned?

First, I learned a lot about how to interact with people and to present.  A second learning is that you should not have preconceptions of other people. Often you get an idea of someone at first glance. It is easy to keep that idea in your head. You should not. When you get to know people your first thoughts often don’t hold up. At EIT Digital, you get to know a lot of people with different backgrounds, countries of origin and cultures. So, you have to open up. Third, I learned that 100 per cent security does not exist. That insight came up during my studies. Even if you design the most secure server, hackers will exploit any flaw in it.”

How do you see cybersecurity evolve?

“Cybersecurity will be and should be a top priority as we get more connected to the internet. In the future, everything will be connected, even clothes. Cybersecurity starts with people. An important part is an awareness that cybersecurity is a thing. Everyone needs basic knowledge of cybersecurity and needs to be taught how to properly use the internet.  Also, governments should better emphasise the relevance of cybersecurity. People should be more secure in the cyberworld. If in the future we are at the same level as we are now, we will be facing a huge problem. Already people get trapped into phishing emails and lose money and their identity. Cyber threats and criminality will only get worse. I think that as an employee of Deloitte I can also play a role in creating awareness about cybersecurity.”

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