Finland creates common model for EU member states for teaching cybersecurity skills to citizens

The Cyber Citizen Project will create a model for teaching cybersecurity skills to citizens and a related learning portal.
Suomi kehittää kyberturvallisuuden kansalaistaitoja koko Euroopan unionin alueelle

Aalto University and the Ministry of Transport and Communications are implementing the extensive Cyber Citizen Project to create a common model for teaching cybersecurity skills to citizens in the EU Member States. As part of the project, on 17 February 2023 Aalto University published a comprehensive report on the current state of teaching cybersecurity skills to citizens throughout the European Union. Finland has been awarded EUR 5 million for this project from the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility for a three-year period.

The Cyber Citizen Project will create a model for teaching cybersecurity skills to citizens and a related learning portal. The portal will include content aimed at citizens that takes different target groups into account, including a game that teaches civic skills related to cybersecurity. The educational and communication elements of the learning portal will enhance citizens’ ability to operate safely in the digital world.

The first phase of the project surveyed the current state of the methods, views and materials of teaching cybersecurity skills to citizens in all the Member States of the European Union. In addition, the national characteristics and requirements of the EU countries as well as the official policies of the European Union were studied. The study also included game analysis, the evaluation of cybersecurity indices and a literature review. Information was collected widely from a variety of sources. As part of the research report, the knowledge and skills that EU cyber citizens need in their increasingly digital everyday lives were defined.

Citizens’ cybersecurity is seen differently in different EU countries

Although digital everyday life with its opportunities and threats is an increasing part of everyday life, the perception of cybersecurity-related knowledge and skills varies considerably from one EU country to another. This is one of the key findings of the research carried out in the Cyber Citizen Project.

'Cybersecurity skills are playing an increasingly important role in increasingly digital societies. It is wonderful that we can once again be at the forefront of the European Union in setting an example in cybersecurity,' says Timo Harakka, Minister of Transport and Communications.

The study revealed that there is a clear desire in EU Member States to develop citizens’ cybersecurity skills and to support lifelong learning. Other key findings from the study are that the differences between different target groups have not yet been sufficiently taken into account, that more cybersecurity experts and trainers are needed, and that the EU countries’ strategic cybersecurity training guidelines are relatively recent.

'The cyber world is a relatively young phenomenon compared to, for example, the formation of traffic safety culture. Creating and strengthening a culture takes time, which is why determined work is important. That is why this Cyber Citizen Project is very topical and important. Over time, citizens’ common understanding and broad-based competence in cybersecurity will become part of civilisation and culture, which are of great importance for the security of the entire society and the everyday safety of citizens. It is wonderful that Finland is pointing the way for the whole of Europe in this,' says Jarno Limnéll, Professor of Practice in Cybersecurity at Aalto University, and leader of the project.

The study also highlighted an important finding for the project’s further work: games have established themselves as a form of social behaviour and are an increasingly central form of learning. The gamification of learning will be an integral part of the learning portal to be planned and implemented in the final phase of the project.

Next steps

The next phase of the Cyber Citizen Project will develop a model for teaching cybersecurity skills to citizens, and the third phase will focus on the development of the learning portal, game development and other content production.

The second and third phases of the project will also involve the creation of a trans-European cooperation network, which will welcome everyone interested in developing the cybersecurity skills of citizens.

Cyber Citizen webpages: The Cyber Citizen Project’s research report, Cyber Citizen Skills and Their Development in the European Union

More information:

Jarno Limnéll
Professor of Practice and project leader
Aalto University
tel. +358 40 527 6173
[email protected]

Rauli Paananen
National Cybersecurity Director
tel. +358 295 342 212
[email protected]

Finland creates an educational package to make cybersecurity a civic skill across the European Union

Researchers at Aalto University are creating an educational package on cybersecurity, which will be shared with all EU countries. Finland has been awarded EUR 5 million for this project from the EU recovery instrument for a three-year period.

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