Cyber security workshop in Germany: "Human can be both a target and a weapon"

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In the cyber-kill chain, humans can be a weapon, target, and tool to disturb services, steal data, destroy personal and company reputations, and trigger a political crisis. Following the spring session, staff and students from the Institute of Computer Science at the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics (MIF), together with other researchers from higher education institutions in the Baltic States and Germany, took part in a three-day cybersecurity workshop as part of the project "Increasing Security-Awareness: The Invisible Power of Digital Traces".

Authors: Rimantė Andrijauskaitė, Austėja Bauraitė, Agnė Brilingaitė (Cybersecurity Laboratory, Institute of Computer Science)

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Albstadt-Sigmaringen University of Applied Sciences organised workshops in Albstadt, Sigmaringen and Tübingen, Germany, after the end of the spring session. Prof. Dr Stefan Sütterlin coordinated the event.

"The purpose of the workshop is to establish closer relations with partners in Germany for further joint study and research activities related to multidirectional cyber security, combining IT, psychology and public education," says project manager Dr Agnė Brilingaitė.

The project researchers aim to study human behaviour in cyberspace and the digital footprints left behind and to highlight new research directions to address cybersecurity challenges.

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VU researchers presented the types of cybersecurity exercises

The third day of the visit began with a conference attended by students, guests and other community members of Albstadt-Sigmaringen University of Applied Sciences. Assoc. Prof. Dr Ricardo G. Lugo from Norway moderated this event. The students presented their research on security culture, insider threats, the roles and responsibilities of cybersecurity professionals, cognitive warfare, communication challenges, phishing attacks, and other relevant issues.

Guests presented ongoing research and projects related to cybersecurity and information technology. Prof. Dr Aušrius Juozapavičius from the General Jonas Žemaitis Lithuanian Military Academy gave insights into leaked data research on the strength of users' passwords, and Assoc. Prof. Dr Ginta Majore, the Senior Researcher, presented the research conducted by the Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences on the challenges of the Internet of Things in the agricultural sector. Dr Agnė Brilingaitė and Dr Linas Bukauskas, VU researchers, presented the types of cyber security exercises, their objectives, their gamification elements, principles of training scenario development, and pathways for competence development of cyber security professionals, linking the research carried out at Vilnius University and the participation in the international cybersecurity exercises.

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Digitalisation is leading to changes in all industry sectors

Participants stressed the importance of paying attention to studying user behaviour in cyberspace. Despite active campaigns to educate the public, users are using weak passwords, i.e. clichéd or short words, which have been included in dictionaries of the most common passwords for several years. Global digitalisation is leading to changes in all industry sectors, where cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important to ensure the quality of service. After all, a vulnerable user or a vulnerable system can cause a data leak, a cybercrime, a damaged reputation or a political crisis.

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Students of Vilnius University Information Technology Study Programme, Rimantė Andrijauskaitė and Austėja Bauraitė, actively participated in the discussions of the event and interacted with the students of the host organisation and exchanged contacts for the purpose of future cooperation. "It's nice to meet like-minded people with whom discussions feel so interesting and natural, no matter where they are from," said VU student Austėja Bauraitė. The visit included activities that enabled the development of professional competencies, as well as discussions during coffee breaks and a cultural programme that provided a chance to improve scientific and intercultural communication competencies. The VU students' visit to Germany was funded by the VU Study Internationalisation Initiatives and VU MIF.

This project of the Baltic-German University Liaison Office is supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with funds from the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany.

More information can be found here.

Ten years ago, the European Union declared October a Cyber Security Month. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the threats in cyberspace and to educate the public in order to improve cybersecurity competences, starting with cyber hygiene.


Vilnius University Invites Everyone to Become a Student for a Day

A traditional event of the Vilnius University (VU) Student for a Day will take place on October 24-28. Lectures will take place in the auditoriums of VU faculties remotely and face-to-face, where everyone can step into the shoes of VU students, experience how studies at a higher school take place and get acquainted with exciting study programs and the admission procedure.

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Visit of students at MIF "Student for a day" event

Together with the current VU students, the event participants will have an opportunity to visit lectures taking place in 15 faculties, including Kaunas and Šiauliai. A remote Student for a Day classes is also organized for international students in English.

Students participating in the lectures will have the opportunity to experience what it means to be a student at a leading Lithuanian university and ask VU lecturers questions, enrich their knowledge, discover new disciplines, and evaluate or even decide what they want to study. Registration is required for those who wish to participate.

More information and registration for lectures can be found here.


"Creative Emotional Journey": Creative solutions to talk about uncomfortable topics

Theatre, sculpture and creative writing are just a few tools that help you analyze complex issues. Vilnius University (VU) Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics (MIF) participated in an Erasmus+ KA2 project, "Creative Emotional Journey - Operational Approach - CREATIVITY AT THE SERVICE OF EDUCATION ", on the topic of gender-based violence and bullying.

The project is ongoing for the second year. This September, its participants were brought together by a youth exchange in Italy where three MIF students: Augustina Petraitytė (Program Systems), Normantas Kuolas (Informatics) and Anastasija Volkova (Mathematics and Mathematical Applications), participated together with International Studies Coordinator Justina Krauledaitė.

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Anastasia Volkova shares her impressions

The exchange took place in a small town called Morfasso, located in the Emilia-Romagna region's mountains. You can only find a few houses in the city, a church and a theatre hall. The Sciara Progetti theatre troupe is located in Morfasso, and they hosted us for the youth exchange in their hostel, which during the whole project was only intended for project participants from Italy, Spain, France, Greece and Lithuania.

But to get to the actual beginning, I need to mention that the project did not start in September but a year ago. During this time, the representatives of the mentioned countries developed a methodology for dialogue on gender-based violence and bullying. Even the students' journey participating in the exchange started a little earlier. In May, a pilot training was held at the Faculty of Naugardukas, led by J. Krauledaitė and A. Volkova. During the training, we examined the topic of gender-based violence, watched a short film, "By the Pool" (dir. Laurynas Bareiška), and had a discussion. Later, several students who participated in the pilot training had the opportunity to join the trip to Italy.

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In the KA2 project “Creative Emotional Journey”, the theatre was not the only important thing; as the name suggests, all creative activities were the key to the exchange. The project's most important goal was to understand and learn how to talk about difficult topics, even if sometimes there are no words to express our thoughts or experiences. The tools that we used were acting, video filming, sculpting, creative writing and similar team and individual activities.

An important thing that most participants experienced was the realization that the first step to solving most problems is communicating and collaborating.

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Another memorable moment was the play we watched in the hall of the Morfasso Theatre, which perfectly revealed the discussed topic – “Malanova”. One critic described it very well: "It is the theatre. The theatre that makes you stick to your seat, takes your breath away, twists your heart and stomach...".

Of course, we can't forget the bond we created with other participants. In this project, we got to know over twenty wonderful and interesting young people whose culture we discovered through conversations and intercultural nights.

We invite you to follow the activities of the “Creative Emotional Journey” project on „Facebook“.


The Institute of Data Science and Digital Technologies plans to strengthen its research activities in the field of Informatics Engineering

2022 10 06 Moksline tiriamoji veikla380x250The Institute of Data Science and Digital Technologies at the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics of Vilnius University plans to strengthen its research activities in the field of Informatics Engineering by initiating research in the areas of quantum computing, quantum cryptography, and quantum blockchains. The planned research is expected to contribute to the application of quantum computing in the field of blockchain technology, to the research and development of quantum-based consensus protocols, and to improving the security and performance of blockchain systems.

The research topic is closely linked to the research already being carried out at the MIF Institute for Data Science and Digital Technologies in the areas of data science, artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, and blockchain technologies and is planned to become a continuous research line. This will enrich the experience of the young researchers and create a team that will focus on high-level research, which will undoubtedly increase the competitiveness of the Institute and the Faculty in the Lithuanian scientific knowledge market.

Visiting senior researcher position


Prof. Valentina Dagienė Receives an International Award: “The Goal Is to Help People Experience the Beauty of Science”

2022 09 06 Valentina Dagiene380x250Professor Valentina Dagienė shares her charisma, enthusiasm, and scientific knowledge with more than just Vilnius University (VU); her achievements and work have travelled the world. She is probably the only scientist whose work is known to everyone from a Lithuanian fifth-grader to a Japanese teacher. In August this year, at the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) held in Indonesia, Prof. Dr. V. Dagienė of the Institute of Data Science and Digital Technologies, Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics (VU), was presented with an exclusive award for her services to the IOI community.

The conference highlighted that in 2007, V. Dagienė initiated and annually organizes the IOI conference on research in educating students with IT skills around the world, and founded the international peer-reviewed scientific journal Olympiad in Informatics, which is still published annually. V. Dagienė has served on the IOI Olympiad’s International Committee for thirteen years.

V. Dagienė talked to VU News about her work, achievements, and motivation.

For many years, you have been involved in computer science education around the world, and with it, the student Olympiads. What motivates you to be so actively involved in computer science education?

In general, I am motivated by the opportunity to improve children’s learning, to have at least some influence on education, to help not only Lithuania but also different countries to teach better, to involve children from an early age, to help them experience the beauty of science - informatics, mathematics. It’s also about finding and nurturing children with an aptitude for computer science.

You have served on the International Committee of the IOI Olympiad for thirteen years. What was your path to this Committee?

For many years before that, I organized the Lithuanian Olympiad in Informatics, prepared assignments for the School of Young Programmers, wrote methodological articles for teachers, and led seminars. I had a lot of contacts with schools and teachers. My research work is related to informatics didactics and education.

What is the responsibility of the IOI community? Which countries are in the community?

The IOI community makes it possible for the most talented students to come and challenge themselves. There are many countries; the event annually gathers students from 85-90 countries.

What have been the biggest challenges over the years?

There have been a lot of things, including political disagreements, such as some countries not being allowed to enter other countries (Israel was not accepted this year in Indonesia). Also, all kinds of subject-specific decisions - which programming languages to use, how to present tasks to students, etc. In addition, I’ve set up a conference during the Olympiads, I organize it every year, collect papers, and publish a volume of the Olympiads in Informatics magazine.

What changes do you see in the international informatics community? How does Lithuania look in this context?

Students are getting smarter, and we need to adapt to new opportunities. Lithuania stays around the middle, sometimes above the average. We would love to get gold medals (it’s been a long time since we’ve got one), but it requires more investment - time with the students and, of course, the teachers. After all, school teachers are the first coaches of future Olympiad participants.


Researcher Seeks to Understand How Misinterpreting Statistics and Graphs Affects People’s Behavior

Gerda Ana Melnik 380x250While making decisions, people often say it happened “naturally”; however, there are complex mechanisms in our brains at the time. The human brain works like a computer processor that receives, processes, stores, modifies, and transmits information but sometimes freezes. Dr. Gerda Ana Melnik-Leroy, a researcher at the prestigious École Normale in Paris and a researcher at the Data Science and Technology Institute (DSTI) of the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics (MIF) at Vilnius University (VU), believes that serious and comprehensive research requires analyzing a problem or object of study from the perspectives of different sciences.

In 2020, the COVID-19 information graphs and illustrations have been used extensively around the world as data scientists and journalists have shifted to tracking and presenting information about the pandemic - from infection and death rates to vaccination data and its variables. Policymakers also relied on COVID-19 data and charts to make important decisions. Dr. G. A. Melnik-Leroy points out that the general public has significant gaps in their understanding of statistics and the interpretation of graphs, reinforcing the tendency towards cognitive biases, which gives grounds for numerous threats. which gives grounds for numerous threats.

To better understand how the human brain perceives and processes incoming information, where processing errors arise from, whether the processing is highly accurate, and how this can affect behavior, the VU researcher is currently conducting a study entitled Cognitive Mechanisms of Information Processing: Numerical and Linguistic Information. The research has already landed her a Lithuanian Academy of Sciences (LAS) scholarship.

“There are, indeed, many dangers. One is that people are too confident in their own decisions and knowledge. Research has shown that people tend to overestimate their abilities. The fact that we are shown a lot of data, it is explained to us, and then in a few months, we feel like experts - that seems to be the problem, because we probably still know very little. Especially since even the experts don’t know everything about a new virus like COVID-19,” the researcher names the first threat.

Another major danger, she says, is that it’s very easy to manipulate both numerical and graphical data. Marketing has been using it for a very long time, sometimes without even knowing the mechanisms behind it but knowing it works: “For example, displaying a graph on one scale or another can paint a particular picture. When we choose a certain design, our brains are automatically triggered and pick up the information without us even realizing it. When we see a graphic, we rarely think it should have been illustrated this way and not that way. Our brains don’t have time for that. We see something and come to conclusions.”

Why do cognitive biases exist?

One hypothesis as to why cognitive biases exist is that they are not just an error of nature but a special mechanism that facilitates our daily lives. Humans have to make many decisions with split-second precision every day, but it would take a lot of time if we did things at 100% every time. In many situations, the most effective way is to make decisions without overthinking; otherwise, we would freeze and not get on with our daily work.

“The assumption is that our cognitive mechanisms are designed to calculate things roughly, and in most situations in life, this is perfectly sufficient. However, there are rare cases where this does not work. When we have those cases with data, with statistics, we need that precision, but our mechanisms don’t work that way unless we make some reasonable, concrete efforts,” says Dr. G. A. Melnik-Leroy.

Interestingly, these biases are neutral, meaning they are cross-cultural, not differentiated by gender or age category, and education has little impact on them. According to the VU researcher, the consequences of the bias were particularly evident when people were simply bombarded with data on COVID-19, climate change, and war.

“We have become a data-driven society as if we were all data scientists. In this context, these biases have become very pronounced,” she says.

For years, scientists have been trying to find out if there are patterns in people’s behavior and decision-making. In short, at what point in performing a specific and repetitive task does the human brain, compared to a computer, seem to get stuck, to freeze.

“For example, people will choose to have surgery in a clinic with a 95% chance of success over one with a 5% mortality rate. Even though they are, in fact, exactly the same,” Dr. G. A. Melnik-Leroy gives an example.

Is objectivity even possible?

Much of the data visualization that bombards us today is sometimes just decoration and at worst a distraction or even misinformation; however, some cases highlight the scale of the problem and draw public attention.

One example is a graphic by Simon Scarr, Senior Designer at Thomsoms Reuters. The graph shows the number of deaths in Iraq each month from 2003 to 2011. It is also an inverted bar graph: the higher the number of deaths in a given month, the further down the bars go. S. Scarr has chosen the color red, which means that the whole graph looks like blood running down the page. In case the message was ambiguous, the chart was titled Iraq’s Bloody Toll. But another data visualization expert, Andy Cotgreave, saw this chart and did a little experiment. First, he recolored the graph by presenting the same columns in a cold blue color. Then, he turned the chart upside down. Eventually, he changed the title to Iraq: Deaths on the Decline.

The change in emotional impact when looking at the graphs is drastic. Which chart is better? This depends on the message behind it. But there is another question. Is objectivity even possible when we present graphical information to the general public?

“I think knowing how human perception of information works, and having the goodwill to use that knowledge, it would be possible to create something approaching the optimal option,” Dr. G. A. Melnik-Leroy does not rule out the possibility of complete objectivity.

“We are currently researching different types of graphs and looking at how people respond to them to understand where one type of graph is more useful than another. There are two things. One is natural perception. For example, we perceive red as a warm color, blue as a cold color, etc. If, for example, we show low temperatures as red and high temperatures as blue, the perception seems to freeze there.

Some are innate reflexes and some are cultural. But when we talk about statistics and data, we are talking about knowledge: math, statistics, etc. That knowledge is often very scarce. So, mathematical knowledge can help us cope with these biases if we have a solid cognitive mechanism, but if we don’t, our natural perceptions take over and can distort the information in certain situations. After that, everything happens in a chain reaction based on how we take in information ad how it affects our behavior. Studies show that behavior is strongly affected. Suppose you have seen the same information several times and misinterpreted it. This will only reinforce the tendency to behave in a certain way, which may not necessarily be rational,” the researcher says.

Challenges for women in science exist

Dr. G. A. Melnik-Leroy returned to Lithuania with the aim of using her knowledge of cognitive science to enrich mathematical algorithms, software, models, and even artificial intelligence systems. In addition to the desire to promote interdisciplinary interaction between the social sciences and the exact sciences, the researcher also notes other cross-cultural differences between Lithuania and France.

One of the main challenges is balancing career and motherhood: “When I returned to Lithuania, I was positively shocked by the joy surrounding women having children. In France, I worked in a high-level laboratory, but this topic was taboo. One PhD student got pregnant, and I saw them looking at her like she was a leper. Talking about wanting children was like betraying science.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but in Lithuania, at least personally, I haven’t seen or heard such things. My supervisor always supported me, and I knew it would be no tragedy if I announced I was pregnant, which would have been the case in France, for example. This aspect is psychologically significant,” she recalls.

However, the researcher does not hide the fact that there is still room for improvement in Lithuania, and there is still pressure on women in society to choose between having children and having a career. But women are often more likely than men to convince themselves they have to choose. This just goes to show that the problem still exists in society.

“There was a study on knowledge of math. The groups of young women and men were given identical math exam papers. In one case, the groups were told nothing at all, and in the other, it was mentioned that the exam is difficult and some will find it hard to pass. The study showed that the men were unaffected by the cue, but the differences between the women groups were striking. I think it cuts across the board,” she says.


World Student Programming Olympiad: will you join?

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We invite you to participate in the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) qualifiers and the Open Cup series. Participants solve problems by building complete programs to solve them. The programs are sent to a testing system which checks their correctness. Everything is done automatically online.

The competition is team-based. A team consists of three or fewer members. Students of all courses at VU MIF (or other faculties) can participate.

This competition prepares for the Olympics, the quarter-finals scheduled for October. We will represent Vilnius University. The best performing teams qualify for the semi-finals, which should take place this autumn at Delft University in the Netherlands (this has been the case every year in the past). It is worth mentioning that we have qualified for the ICPC finals twice: in 2017, the finals were held in the USA (where we came 34th), and in 2018, in Beijing (China), where we came 12th and won bronze. The selection will be determined by the Baltic Selection tournament, which will include teams from Estonian and Latvian universities as well as KTU and VGTU. It is planned that everything will take place in the MIF STSC (Šaltinių str. 1A) computer classrooms. The specific time and place of the tournaments (classrooms) will be specified.

The Open Cup series runs throughout the school year (about 20 rounds) and takes place on Sundays at the MIF STSC. Usually from 10 am to 3 pm. The results also influence the selection for the Olympics. The first round is scheduled for September. By the way, it is possible to join from any stage.

We are also quite active in Codeforces tournaments (individually and in teams), coding camps and other open international Olympiads. You can see the performances of MIF teams from the last few academic years here.

The Programming Olympiads are remote by nature, so naturally, this way of participating is also possible, preferably with all team members in one place.

Contact person: Vladas Tumasonis,

If you wish to participate, please write to him with the subject Olympics 2022. Please indicate your name, course and study programme. You can already form teams (and choose a team name). Otherwise, we will create the teams ourselves. You can keep the same (or slightly modified) teams from last year.

1. Programming languages: C/C++, Java, Delphi, Python, Perl, etc.
2. English wording of tasks.


Thermo Fisher Scientific Nominal Scholarship Competition 2022-2023

“Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics” UAB in cooperation with Vilnius University invites prospective 1-year masters students from VU Life Sciences Center, Faculty of Chemistry and Geosciences, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics to prepare Master final thesis at the Company.

Favorite students selected to prepare Master final thesis at the Company will receive Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics nominal scholarship of 1.800 Eur per single academic year. VU students who prepare the final thesis at the Company for two academic years and if study results do not worsen, are entitled for a second-year scholarship, therefore total scholarship would amount to 3.600 Eur.

Applicants’ Bachelor final thesis (or exams) and Main study field subjects weighted average grades must be no less than 8 to qualify for the Scholarship competition.

This nominal scholarship does not impact students’ chances to receive other scholarships from the State, Vilnius University, “Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics” or other.

First year Master students must submit applications for the competition by September 15, 2022

Students must submit following documents: 

  • Curriculum vitae (CV);
  • Motivational letter, also indicating preferred Research groups;
  • Copy of Bachelor studies diploma and its supplement;
  • Copy of Secondary school graduation diploma;
  • Copy of other achievements, such as scientific and/or social activities (e.g. participations in scientific competitions, tournaments and other);
  • Recommendation from VU Faculty or Employer would be additional benefit.

Application documents should be submitted to VU Study administration department via e-mail: and “Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics” UAB via e-mail: titled “Thermo Fisher Scientific nominal scholarship”.

Questions regarding this competition should be addressed to “Thermo Fisher Scientific” representative – Edvin Stankevič, , or VU representative – Jurgita Alonderyte-Venckiene e-mail: .


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