15.12.2017 On 14 December, the European Crime Prevention Network awarded Europe’s best crime prevention project. This year’s competition focused on cyber security and it marked the 20th year of assigning this award. Out of the 18 countries that took part in the competition, the main prize went to Estonia, which was represented by a cyber defence study project at Põltsamaa Coeducational Gymnasium.
Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu emphasised that the fight for cyber security has to be relentless. “It is inevitable that digitalization will make the society more susceptible to cyber threats. Therefore, we need to remember that cyber criminals (individual or groups) do not have days off and just like the devices in our pockets are becoming smarter with each day, so are cyber criminals. We need to be prepared for this and contribute to improving people's digital literacy and increasing awareness, just as all the 18 projects that were submitted for the award,” said Reinsalu.
Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt noted that, in addition to combating cybercrime, we should not forget to work on interpersonal relationships, which are often the starting point for violence in the cyber world. “In coming years, I hope to see projects aimed at preventing violence in intimate relationships. Activities in the cyber world can lead to cyberbullying and radicalization; however, oftentimes those are caused by people’s actions in the real world. Intimate partner violence is a serious problem across Europe and violence tends to lead to more violence,” added the Minister of the Interior.
The top prize of 10,000 euros of the European Crime Prevention Award went to a cyber defence study project of the Põltsamaa Coeducational Gymnasium. They were the first general education school that started teaching cyber defence to its students (in 2015). The programme consists of four cyber defence courses: information society, the basics of information technology and secure networking, digital security and cryptography, and an introduction to mechatronics.
According to Tiia Mikson, head teacher and the initiator of the cyber defence field of study at the Põltsamaa Coeducationl Gymnasium, this programme was necessary so that children could acquire socially responsible and law-abiding behaviour habits already while in school. “Youngsters who believe themselves to be real experts at online activities have to be taught skills and habits of safe and law-abiding online behaviour already when they are in primary school. They should also be informed about sanctions brought about by violations of the law. As experience shows that cyber defence should be added to the curricula of all schools as soon as possible, because children who commit and fall victim to cyber crimes are getting younger with each year,” added Mikson.
A € 5,000 award was given to a Danish project titled “The Danes’ digital self-defence” and the Belgian “Cybersimple” project.
The Danish Crime Prevention Council, the foundation “TrygFonden” and the Danish Consumer Council created the “My Digital Self-Defence” application, which provides solutions for safe behaviour in web environments, based on the project partners’ and consumers’ daily experiences with using digital devices. It also includes guidelines on where to turn to when damage has been caused and how to identify fraud.
“Cybersimple” is a campaign that educates and empowers consumers in Belgium so that they could protect themselves and behave in a more safe way while online. In order to do so, Google and Test Achats joined forces to create an educational online platform cybersimple.be, where more than 90 web security tips and tricks will be shared with consumers.
A total of 18 countries were represented among the awarded projects. The selection panel included representatives from four countries – Malta, Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria – and one criterion for the selection process was that representatives could not participate in evaluating projects from their own country.
Within the framework of the Estonian Presidency, the European Crime Prevention Network Board is lead by the Estonian Ministry of Justice and the Estonian Ministry of the Interior.