Cyber 9/12 Project

The Cyber 9/12 Project explores how we should respond the day after a major cyber calamity. Learn More
  • WannaCry Ransomware Attack: Dreams Should Not Come True

    On May 12, 2017, the world was shaken by a ransomware cyberattack called Wanna Crypt (also known as WannaCry) that spread like a network worm. The attack impacted over 45 National Health System (NHS) organizations across England and Scotland, forcing hospitals to cancel appointments and loose critical patient records, as well as the German S-Bahn.

    The impacts did not stop there. In less than ten days, WannaCry affected approximately 200,000 systems in 150 countries, swiftly becoming one of the most impactful malware outbreaks in recent history, and dominating the news cycle for the next several days.

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  • 2017 US Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge

    At what point does a cyberattack become an act of war? Should the government react to a cyber-attack on the private sector? Is cyber privateering the answer to the government’s woes? These were some of the questions students (including this author) contended with at the Atlantic Council’s 2017 Cyber 9/12 student challenge on March 17 and 18.

    Held at American University’s Washington College of Law, this was the fifth and biggest iteration of the annual student competition. Forty-five teams from 32 universities from across the United States took on the roles of cyber policy experts advising the National Security Council on how to react to a fictional cyber catastrophe.

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  • Naval War College Wins Atlantic Council’s Fifth Annual Cyber 9/12 Student Competition

    Team C3S from Naval War College won first place at the fifth annual Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge, a cybersecurity student competition by the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative. The competition was held on March 17-18 at American University’s Washington College of Law in Washington, DC, and featured forty-five competing teams from eighteen states across the United States. Student teams competed to offer their best national-security policy prescriptions for combating evolving cyber conflict scenarios.

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  • Cyber 9/12 Event Featured in the CyberWire


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  • The 2016 European Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge

    Serbia has been hit by a major cyberattack! The Office of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is contacting your team for what to do next...

    The Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, in partnership with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), hosted the second annual European Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge in Geneva, Switzerland on April 7-8, 2016. The competition brought together 150 students representing twenty-eight teams of bachelors, masters, and PhD students from eleven different countries across Europe, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The students represented thirty different university or military college affiliations and were judged by panels of experts in the field of cybersecurity. The winning team came from King’s College London, with US Naval Academy finishing in second place and Geneva School of Diplomacy...

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  • The Day After: Preparing to Respond to National Cyber Crises

    Given that all entities are susceptible to being hacked, how will (not would) a federal government like that of the United States respond to the potential compromise of a critical asset like the Global Positioning System (GPS)? For the fourth year in a row, the Atlantic Council has been at the forefront of proactively tackling such cyber-related national security policy challenges by hosting the Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge. The Military Cyber Professionals Association (MCPA) and its members were honored to recently conclude its second year of direct support to the event. Having served as a reviewer, presenter, and judge at the event, here are some reasons why I look forward to the event’s continued growth.

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  • What if a Cyberattack Ignited a War?

    Cyber 9/12 contest participants present policy options to contain crisis

    A cyberattack has brought nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan to the brink of war. An unknown adversary has hacked into a US defense contractor’s computer systems, stolen highly sensitive data, and potentially taken over Global Positioning System satellites. Fighter jets and military radios, along with commercial airlines and mobile phones, are all at risk.

    As tensions escalate, non-state actors falsely claim responsibility for the cyberattack. Meanwhile, India and Pakistan inch toward full-scale war as a Pakistani missile shoots down an Indian commercial airliner that has mistakenly strayed into the airspace over the contested Kashmir region.

    This was the fictional scenario laid out in a simulation at the fourth annual Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge held at American University on March 11-12. Who carried out the data breach? Were civilian GPS systems affected? Did...

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  • An Overview of the Fourth Annual Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge

    40 Teams, 25 Universities, 14 States... 1 Cyber Policy Competition:
    An Overview of the Fourth Annual Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge (Part 1)

    The Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative held its fourth annual Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge on March 11 and 12, 2016. Forty teams from 25 universities participated, along with high-level judges and speakers. American University’s School of International Service hosted the event in Washington, DC. Leidos, FireEye, Symantec, Baker & McKenzie, AU’s School of International Service, and the Military Cyber Professionals Association provided support and funding. This year’s competition continued a strong tradition, while also setting new records. 

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  • Cyber 9/12 Event Featured in Maxwell Air Force Base Blog


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  • Atlantic Council Cyber Statecraft Initiative Concludes Fourth Annual Student Cyber-Policy Competition

    The Atlantic Council’s fourth annual Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge was held on March 11-12 at American University’s School of International Service in Washington, DC. Forty teams competed to offer their best national-security policy prescriptions for combating evolving cyber conflict scenarios. Student competitors came from Arizona State University, Brown University, Columbia University, Duke University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Tufts University, National Defense University, and many more.


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