Italy's 50 gurus of Cyber Security

4 Alumni of Politecnico in La Repubblica's list of the biggest italian players in Cyber Security

Cyber ​​security is an area in which Italy offers “skills, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit” , according to Arturo di Corinto of La Repubblica, who published an Italian list of Who's Who of the cybersecurity industry . Among the 50 big names in cyber security, selected by the newspaper from among experts in the academic and industrial fields, there are 4 prominent Alumni of the Politecnico di Milano , let's know more about them.


Senior Director of CrowdStrike , a leading company in the field of cyber-security, which in 2017 acquired Iperlane, founded by Alumnus. Vincenzo Iozzo studied computer engineering at the Politecnico di Milano, is an angel investor and a member of the Review Board of Black Hat Conference . Former research associate at the MIT Media Lab, he is co-author of the "iOS Hacker's Handbook" (Wiley, 2012).

Interviewed last April by Il Sole24Ore, which defined him a "CEO with a tech soul", Iozzo reflects on the most promising technologies of our era , machine learning, artificial intelligence and biotech , and comments that the new generation of entrepreneurs and executives of the the technological world, which has formed or is being formed in recent years, is a generation of people attentive to the ethical and social implications of their work and the impacts it has in terms of equity and sustainability.


He is secretary general of the ECSO, European Cyber ​​Security Organization . Alumnus nuclear engineering at the Politecnico di Milano, he worked in Thomson CSF / Thales between France and Germany, becoming in 2003 Director for European Affairs for the civil activities of the group. He coordinated the creation of EOS, European Organization for Security, of which he was CEO for 10 years, contributed to the creation of ECSO and participated in various initiatives in this area as a support to the European Commission. In 2019 she participated in the creation of the Foundation Women4Cyber ​​ , “an idea born in 2017 during a conversation with Prof. Sciuto, Vice Rector of the Politecnico di Milano ”, remembers Rebuffi, to promote the participation of women in the cybersecurity sector. In 2020 he entered the " IFSEC Global Influencers in security - Executives “. He took part in the birth of Stem in the City and in the creation of the joint degree course between Politecnico and Bocconi in Cyber ​​Risk Strategy and Governance. Read more about the new degree in Cybersecurity

“Finding myself nominated on a list is something that always surprises me,” says Rebuffi. "It never occurred to me to be an influencer, but I realize that today it is important to be recognized for the work you do." And he continues: "Our universities must enhance the possibilities for students to move towards this transformation of skills , which responds to the needs of digital transformation: technicians and scientists, but also lawyers, managers and people capable to evaluate the impact of IT risk at 360 ° ".


Lives in California, where he teaches at the Computer Science Department of the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) . “I graduated and did my PhD at Politecnico di Milano”, says Giovanni Vigna. "I finished in 1997 and went to do a postdoc at UCSB: it was supposed to last 6 months, but after two years of postdoc the department asked me to stay as a teacher and I'm still there 24 years later". Vigna's research focuses on different areas, such as malware analysis, the study of cybercrime, vulnerability analysis, web security and the application of machine learning to topics safety.

In 2009 he founded Lastline , acquired in 2020 by VMware, for which Vigna is currently working directing the threat intelligence group. Since 2001 Vigna has participated in the design of hacking competitions and in 2005 founded the Shellphish hacker group . His hacking lessons are available on YouTube .

"The beauty of doing research is that it always puts you in contact with new ideas", he comments, "but I think that the impact of the work of a teacher and researcher goes beyond scientific ideas and contributions. It is above all a human impact : that of forming individuals who in turn will make their contribution ”. In this approach, he says, there is a lot of Politecnico: "it was the environment in which I grew up and I trained: my advisor, Carlo Ghezzi , was not an IT security expert but he was an exceptional mentor and taught me to do research and follow students. In fact, almost all of my doctoral colleagues have entered large universities all over the world ”.


He is associate professor at Politecnico Milano. Alumnus of computer engineering (class of 2002) his main focus is the security of cyber-physical systems, computer virology and data analysis applied to security . He has started several startups in the sector.

Politecnico has a long tradition linked to cyber security dating back to the mid-90s , with the contributions of prof. Dècina ”, comments Stefano Zanero . "We were one of the first universities in the world to participate in international university hacking competitions in the early 2000s, and to include security teaching as a compulsory course in the master's degree in computer engineering, in 2010 . Over the years, many Alumni have trained here and today they are well integrated into the academic and industrial world, even if they are not on the list they are doing very interesting things ".

One of the peculiarities of those who trained in IT security at the Politecnico is the ability to take into consideration the human side of these tools. "I'll take the most common example, that of passwords to access services", continues Zanero. " If the authentication system asks for passwords that are impossible to remember, I already know that the user will write them on a post-it , compromising their security. Security policies must take this into account and be designed to be used by people, otherwise they don't work ”. The technological part, in short, is important (we would say a prerequisite), but there is more : "The economic element of risk analysis underlies everything, as well as that of a social and psychological nature ". In short, logging into Netflix is ​​not the same as logging into your bank account.

Information security is a field in which the Politecnico invests heavily also in terms of research. "Zero risk does not exist: at Poli we study how to break things, even security systems, to find solutions that are more difficult to break ", continues Zanero, underlining that the more we computerize production and digital becomes widespread in our lives, the more this represents a risk (think for example of the protection of sensitive data, but also of home automation increasingly present in transport, in the management of buildings and spaces, the internet of things, etc.) and therefore cybersecurity must become equally pervasive. " pervasiveness is one of the main challenges for researchers: wherever there is a computer object there must be a security system , from the computer that regulates the distribution of electricity to the app for smartphones with which I turn on the lights in the house ".

Credits home: Photo by FLY:D on Unsplash

Credits header: Photo by Philipp Katzenberger on Unsplash