Towards a Safer Web (with Language Technology)

Last Updated: 25 June 2013

On 18 June 2013, I attended an interesting conference on cybersecurity. The conference was held in one of the conference rooms at the Police Academy in Rome*. The title of the conference was “Critical Infrastructure Protection – Telecommunications”** and Italian was the working language. The conference was organized by  the I.C.S.A Foundation (Intelligence Culture and Strategic Analysis) ( Those who can understand Italian can read a press release here:

As you can imagine, there were many people working for the Police and Defence Departments, but also people coming from industry and academia.
I attended this conference because, in my opinion, Language Technology (LT) can help cybersecurity in many ways. We are currently thinking of a LT project, SafeWEB, whose aim is to detect threatening, mischievous and treacherous  language to protect internet users from abusive and illegal behaviours,  such as threats, frauds, fishing, cyberbullying, and the countless crimes that can be identified through digital forensics. SafeWEB is inter- and cross-interdisciplinary; it is devoted to automatically detect human behavioural patterns, analyse social interactions on the web, perform social network analysis, pin down the use of abusive language on the internet, perform threat analysis, fraud detection,  analyse information dissemination models, detect cyberemotions, implement methods to increase self-protection against cyber attacks (e.g. cyberbullying or cyberterrorism or cyberstalking) and finally to suggest security requirements suitable for the digital age.

Although the focus of the conference was not on LT, it was interesting to be there and get informed of what is going on in the field of cybersecurity in a very lively European country like Italy. The main focus of the conference was cybernetic protection and security with respect to the latest European and Italian laws.

The domain-specific terminology was cantered on a number of expressions that could be easily used as meta-tags o to create the taxonomy of a future cyberSecurity-based information system. Terms like “cyber risk”, “cyber crime”, cybernetic crisis, cybernetic events, cyber attacks etc. had a high frequency in the presentations. Something very different from the taxonomies collected by Daniel Lowry Lough in his thesis in 2001 (A TAXONOMY OF COMPUTER ATTACKS WITH APPLICATIONS TO WIRELESS NETWORKS,

 In this post, I would like to focus on a presentation describing a EU-funded project on cybersecurity, namely the project called CloudCERT.  CloudCERT ( is  co-financiated by the European Union (EU) following the specific program named “Prevention, Preparedness and Consequence Management of Terrorism and other Security-related risks”, located within the “Security and Safeguarding Liberties” program.

CloudCERT is “a platform that allows actors involved in the Protection of Critical Infrastructures to share and exchange information securely in order to improve the knowledge, cooperation, coordination and collaboration for preventing, deterring, and responding to cyber attacks on control systems within critical infrastructure”.

Among other things, users “interact directly with security contents (such as Vulnerabilities, News, Notes, Advisories, etc.) and can share information trough services supported by tools such as forums, wikis, etc.” (source:

Interestingly, CloudCERT is implementing a EU platform to share and exchange information. The next step is then, in my opinion, to implement actionable intelligence on big open data to automatically extract critical information from this huge repository of unstructured data.

Alessandro Zanasi (, who presented the project, pointed out that the upcoming EU funding framework, Horizon 2020, will provide 560 Euros for EU projects centered on the Protection of the Cyberspace and 560 Euros for projects in the Critical Infrastructure Protection field. The amount of financial resources shows how crucial cybersecurity is in the European agenda.  Some of the funded actions are listed under Pillar III of the Digital Agenda for Europe  ( and LT can certainly contribute to improve cybersafety.

Could you point out to me LT projects already completed or still in progress focussed on cybersecurity? Thanks in advance.

*Scuola Superiore di Polizia, Rome, Italy.

** “Protezione delle infrastrutture Critiche – Telecomunicazioni”.

2 comments for “Towards a Safer Web (with Language Technology)

  1. 26 June, 2013 at 16:43

    Gentile Marina Santini,
    vedo che è a Roma: perchè non sentirci/vederci direttamente per parlare con calma di quanto da me e dai colleghi del mio gruppo sviluppato su queste tematiche? Qui a Tor Vergata esiste da molti anni un laboratorio di Intelligenza Artificiale ed elaborazione del linguaggio naturale all’interno del quale molti progetti nazionali ed internazionali hanno avuto spazio e ritorni industriali.
    Colgo l’occasione per inviarle i miei migliori saluti

    MAria Teresa Pazienza

  2. 26 June, 2013 at 19:26

    I am back in Stockholm, but I will come back in a few weeks….

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