March 19, 2015
The Atlantic Council’s third annual Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge was held on March 13-14 in Washington, DC.  Twenty teams competed to offer their best national-security policy prescriptions for combating increasing cyber conflict.  Student competitors came from Arizona State University, Brown University, Columbia University, Harvard Law School, the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, National Defense University and many more.  


The Atlantic Council’s third annual Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge was held on March 13-14 in Washington, DC.  Twenty teams competed to offer their best national-security policy prescriptions for combating evolving cyber conflict scenario.  Student competitors came from Arizona State University, Brown University, Columbia University, Harvard Law School, the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, National Defense University and many more.  

This year’s winner was BrownSecure from Brown University, coached by John Savage and the only team of undergraduates in the final round. A team from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (coached by Martin Libicki) came second, followed by a team from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (coached by Jason Healey).  Rounding out the top four finalists was an Air Force team (coached by a former two-time competitor, Col “Dollar” Bill Young) from the Air Command and Staff College.

The competition was made possible by the support of the Hewlett Foundation, Symantec, and Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. Delta Risk assisted the Cyber Statecraft Initiative in developing the competition scenario, and CrowdStrike provided prizes for the finalist teams. The venue for the competition was provided by the American University’s Washington College of Law and School of International Service. Additionally, Baker & McKenzie LLP generously hosted an evening reception and awards ceremony in their offices overlooking the White House and the National Mall, providing the participants a unique opportunity to engage with the judges and observers in the heart of Washington. 

The Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge remains the only major student competition devoted to national security policy recommendations for responses during a major cyber incident. It engages students with a group of senior-level cybersecurity practitioners acting as judges, representing various sectors including government, finance, telecom, and the press.  

Part interactive learning experience and part competitive scenario exercise, the Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge gives students interested in cyber conflict policy an opportunity to interact with expert mentors, judges, and cyber professionals while developing valuable skills in policy analysis and presentation. 

This year, judges included David Sanger, the New York Times’ Chief Washington Correspondent; Dmitri Alperovitch, Cofounder and CTO at CrowdStrike; Rosemary Wenchel, ‎Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security; Bobbie Stempfley, Director of Cybersecurity Implementation at MITRE Corporation; Neal Pollard, Director of Forensic Technology Solutions at PricewaterhouseCoopers; Cheri McGuire, Vice President of Global Government Affairs and Cybersecurity Policy at Symantec; John Nicholson, First Secretary of Cyber Policy at the British Embassy; and Laura Crespo, from the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, among other prominent cybersecurity experts.

Student competitors were also able to engage in question-and-answer sessions with world-class cyber experts like General Mike Hayden (ret), the former director of both the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Association, and Chris Painter, America’s top cyber diplomat. Tom Parker from FusionX, a firm specializing in simulating realistic cyberattacks for its clients, engaged the participants in a mock computer network exploitation exercise, demonstrating methods commonly utilized by real-world cyber adversaries to compromise governments and private companies. The event also hosted a career panel of young cybersecurity professionals advising the students as they plan their future careers.

In addition to the event in Washington, DC, the competition will, for the first time, also take place in Geneva, Switzerland on April 22-23, 2015. The event is organized in collaboration with the Geneva Center for Security Policy, gathering eighteen teams from across Europe and the United States.

RELATED CONTENT