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Is Hacking Only about Coding?

Mr. Robot

Is Hacking Only about Coding?

Is Hacking Only about Coding?

Second edition of Hacker vs. Hacker as part of Ambizione Italia for Cybersecurity

“Fingers run quickly over the keyboard, windows open on the screen, and loading bars reach completion; photos of individuals and satellite maps overlap. Omnipresent in this sequence of digital images are the strings of alphanumeric characters that flow as frenetically as the fingers of the person typing them, as feverish as their gaze on the screen. This is the stereotype of hackers provided by movies and TV: digital wizards who, with their esoteric formulas, cast spells to access secret knowledge as per one of the best examples of Arthur Clark's third law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic ” […].

In the most recent contribution published on Le Scienze, entitled "The Magic of Hackers" (January 2024), scientific journalist Michele Bellone invites us to reflect on our idea of hackers and step beyond their image in science fiction. However, without the possibility of actually experiencing the role, it is difficult to understand the complexity of the profile and the different skills at play in the profession, especially in its ethical dimension. And, although more than four million new profiles are necessary in cybersecurity alone, it is difficult to convince ourselves of this urgency. This is why, following the success of the first edition, which saw the participation of over 600 students from secondary schools in Lazio, we have organized the second edition of the " Hacker vs. Hacker " challenge as part of the Ambizione Italia for Cybersecurity  Programme promoted with Microsoft.

The training program and final challenge have been developed with the collaboration of the Rome Campus Bio-Medico University, one of the first universities to establish a master's degree programme in Intelligent Systems Engineering to train IT security experts who know how to manage the digital transformation of industrial processes and, more in general, all work, social, and personal processes featuring interaction between individuals and IT or computerized systems.



Three one-and-a-half-hour on-line meetings on how to protect ourselves in cyberspace by understanding how hackers operate. The course is open to students in their last three years of high school. Selected students will be invited to participate in the final challenge, which will take place in person at the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome on February 15th.

The course, based on a red teaming approach, provides participants with a vision of how hackers actually operate in preparing attack strategies which, despite their simplicity, are still capable of deceiving many users. Understanding the ways in which the main cyber threats are created is a starting point for understanding how to prevent them and how to counter them to protect ourselves.

The course is divided into two parts:

  • the first, which will be held on-line in three appointments 1.5-hour appointments, will provide introductory elements and concludes with a challenge to identify the students who will access the second phase.
  • the second is a Hacking Challenge that will be held at the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome, during which participants will be helped to understand and implement simple, but effective, cyberattacks.



  1. What is a Hacker Capable of? | January 17, 3.30-5.00 pm

Illustration, via Storyteller, of the actions carried out by hackers. What a cyberattack can do to an exposed device such as a TV, webcam, or printer. How to find information on the web from open sources. The coach is Luca Faramondi, Assistant Professor at the Departmental Faculty of Engineering at the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome.

  1. Vulnerabilities Exploited by Hackers | January 24, 3.30-5.30 pm

Illustration of the basic elements of a computer system and a web information system. How communications take place via the internet. Why use https and not http. E-mail: advantages and vulnerabilities. At the end of the second meeting, space will be given to the presentation of the courses provided by Departmental Faculty of Engineering of the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome.

  1. A Hacker’s Tools | January 31, 3.30-5.00 pm

How encryption, passwords, and backups are exploited by those who wish to use them against us. Data leaks and data breaches, where stolen information ends up. At the end of the training, 80 students will be selected to participate in an on-line challenge to participate in the final challenge.



On February 15th, at 11.00 am, the Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome will host a round table to collect ideas and reflections from experts, companies, and institutions on the importance of cybersecurity in our personal and professional lives and the opportunities it provides in the world of work. In the afternoon, the students, divided into mixed teams, will compete in a hacking challenge to foil hacker attacks on potential victims.

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