The Hidden Continent, Information and People on the Network

Rome (Italy). The Hidden Continent: Information and People on inter-connected cyberspace is the theme of the 1st meeting of the 2017-2018 Interdisciplinary Course organized by the Pontifical Faculty of Science of Education Auxilium, to reflect with experts on the importance of digital identity and of the risks connected to it. John Paul II Assembly Hall of the Faculty is crowded with students, Faculty teachers, professional educators, educational psychologists, scholastic directors, religion teachers, pastoral and catechetical workers, pastors, priests, religious, teachers, and parents.

After a brief time of prayer and the introductory greetings by the Principal, Sr. Pina del Core, Professor Alessandra Smerilli introduces the five speakers of the Round Table and points out the theme: to dialog on the importance of digital identity and the risks connected to it; on human behaviors put in place to protect personal information and privacy; on the projection of technology toward the digital items and economy of the Internet”. The Network is the space where migration flows from the physical to the digital world, and at the same time, is a reality in which all the major giants are investing. Where is the complexity, seemingly devoid of rules, in which are found potentially harmful content and behaviors for the development, especially of younger children, leading us?

Let us not act like Ants

A comment or " like " is left almost four million times a day; every 24 hours Google processes billions of queries, archiving them all, creating digital paths to understand user tastes and preferences.

Claudio Panaiotti, Head of the Information Systems of the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic, starts by tracing the coordinates of the sixth hidden, invisible, continent created by the Internet: "cyberspace, without spaces and borders that is radically changing the life of people and institutions. This new dimension in its various declinations, cyberspace, cybersecurity, cyberwork, cyberstrategy, cyberwelfare, etc., highlights how the true revolution is not how data is processed but the data itself and the way it is used”. The so-called Big Data, the speaker continues, have changed the aspects of statistics, since it is no longer important to have a representative sample, but to have a huge amount of de-structured data that provides information to offer products and services with targeted features. The questions arise when through these data, predictions begin to be made about people's decisions.

According to Panaiotti, “we can, indeed we have to, raise our levels of awareness of the opportunities, but above all, of the dangers inherent in the digital era where, beyond technological aspects and automatic security guards, it must be the human factor that re-acquires the necessary centrality. We have to reformulate around the human person, an active communication process for the protection of ourselves”. And he concludes with a wish-metaphor: do not act like ants, that is, do not let yourself be taken by the parasite Dicrocoelium Dendriticum, a small worm that, as an adult, slides into the brain of the animal, thus succeeding in changing its behavior.

The Dark Side of the Net

Uber, the world's largest taxi company does not even have a car; Facebook, the world's most popular social media does not even produce content; AirBnB's largest hospitality provider does not have a property; Amazon, the largest retail trading company does not have even one store ... and yet their sales exceed those of the biggest chains in their industry: Hertz, New York Times, Hilton, Wall Mart.

Immense capitalization, management of services in the face of nothing physical. Corrado Giustozzi of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security points out in the debate the strategic value of information. “A recent estimate - he says - reveals that 97% of the information has been created over the last ten years. Perhaps humanity is not yet accustomed to this quality jump”.

The data is taken unaware to us, but it is also simply given by each of us when we surf. And if we are still going to a world with little awareness, the solution is not to flee it but to reason about the benefits and the risks and convince ourselves that it is always our behavior that makes the difference. He concludes, insofar as society has always been able to mature its defenses in history, "Today we live in a time of rapid epochal changes and the only defense is we ourselves and the use we make of resources, knowing the consequences that a simple click can bring".

The Person in the Hidden Continent

Within this complex reality is focused the intervention of Isabella Corradini, Social Psychologist and Scientific Director of Themis, who insists on the importance of human behavior in network risk prevention. She describes the technique of social engineering through which the information of the user is snatched for the benefit of cybercriminals.

The speaker says that the fulcrum is rapport, as information is sought that allows the person to be hooked, focusing on features that open up and facilitate the relationship. "The real problem is precisely the human factor, because cyber-criminals exploit enthusiasm, distraction, curiosity, uncertainty to gain the confidence of the user, and then extract sensitive information that is then used against us. The fundamental question is therefore "what awareness do we have of the power of data, which is the precious property we possess?" Prohibiting is not the best solution, but educating ourselves to greater awareness is possible because the digital world is populated with "life forms" that are not always benign for our digital self ... We need to have sensors to understand the consequences of our behaviors.

We Know Everything About You

The morning ends with a real-time demonstration by Paolo Fiaccavento and Emiliano Ferraro of the Information Systems Service of the Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic. After imagining an "attack" on a person, trying to figure out through social profiles and preferences, membership groups, relationships, and friends, the two experts have actually shown how this is going to happen. "We cannot make a distinction between private life and work life," says Paolo Fiaccavento. We are the product, the objective that can be used to carry out a series of malicious operations. It is difficult to propose a solution to behaviors that impact the private sphere. The problem sees its declination in the sector of technology, and there is no technology that can protect us if we do not increase our awareness."

The Course, which is addressed to those who are involved in the education of young people and adults, will have another two appointments:

18 November: Ernesto Caffo of The Blue Telephone will speak on “What do you risk on the Net?”

2 December: Pier Cesare Rivoltella of the Catholic University of Milan will speak on the theme: “The Future of the Net” and its repercussions on education.

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1 commento
27/10/2017 02:07:40 - Jacinta Gusmao

E' davvero interessante e utile. Avere conoscenza profonda su questo continente nascosto si sara' di beneficio ma non tutti noi abbiamo questa possibilita'.

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