• Cyber 9/12 Project

    The Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge is designed to offer students, across a wide range of academic disciplines, a better understanding of the policy challenges associated with cyber conflict. Read More
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  • General Information
  • US Competition 2015
  • Europe Competition
The Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge is the only student competition devoted to high-level policy recommendations for day-after responses to a major cyber incident. The annual event organized by the Atlantic Council and hosted by American University is the "must attend" student event in international cybersecurity policy. The Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge engages students with a small group of experts representing various sectors including government, finance, telecom, and the press. This competition promotes awareness of cybersecurity policy issues while providing students and experts an opportunity to network with cybersecurity experts and develop new ideas on the future of cybersecurity policy.

In 2015 the competition will include two events:

  • In the United States, the Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge will take place on March 13 and 14 at American University in Washington, DC.
  • In Europe, the Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge will take place on April 22-23 at the Centre International de Conférences Genève (CICG) located at 17 Rue de Varembé, in Geneva, Switzerland in collaboration with the Geneva Center for Security Policy.

The registration for US and European competition will open in December.

What is the Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge?

Throughout the competition, students will confront a serious cyber security breach by composing their ideal cyber policy recommendations and justifying the decision-making process used to rank priorities. During the course of the competition, the scenario will continue to evolve, forcing advancing teams to focus on key priorities during a major cyber attack against the United States.

By participating in the competition, students get the unique opportunity to apply their policy recommendations by briefing real global experts in cybersecurity. Their performance is evaluated by some of the world's leading cybersecurity policy experts who will participate.

Who Can Participate?

Graduate and undergraduate students from US and international universities and military and defense colleges who are interested in the disciplines of cybersecurity policy, international relations, computer science, law, and other related fields are invited to apply to compete in teams of three to four individuals.

How to Participate?

2015 competition registration will open in December. More information will be posted on this website as it becomes available. You can access competition rules outlining the process here and FAQ's here.
How to contact the organizers?


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The Atlantic Council's third annual Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge was held on March 13-14 in Washington, DC. Twenty teams from across the country competed to offer their best national security policy prescriptions for combating increased cyber conflict. This year's winner was BrownSecure from Brown University, coached by John Savage and the only team of undergraduates in the final round!

The students' policy suggestions were judged by prominent panels of cybersecurity experts, including 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; and many more.

Cyber 9-12 Winning-team(Brown Security, Brown University, winners of the US 2015 Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge)  

World-class cyber experts, including General Michael Hayden (ret), the former director of both the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, and Chris Painter, America's top cyber diplomat, engaged with students throughout the event. The students also enjoyed a mock computer network exploitation exercise by FusionX, a career panel of young cybersecurity professionals, and other activities.

The competition was made possible by the support of the Hewlett Foundation, Symantec, Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, Delta Risk, CrowdStrike, American University, and Baker & McKenzie LLP. See more...

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The Atlantic Council's Cyber Statecraft Initiative together with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) concluded Europe's first Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge, held on April 22 to 23 in Geneva, Switzerland. The European Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge follows three successful years of similar competitions held in Washington, DC. Sixteen teams competed to offer their best national security policy prescriptions for combating escalating cyber conflict. The teams traveled to Geneva from the United Kingdom, France, Poland, Switzerland, Finland, Hungary, Estonia, and the United States. By bringing together current and future cyber policymakers from across the transatlantic community, the Student Challenge provided a unique venue for advancing cybersecurity education in Europe and beyond. Take a look at the photos from Geneva here by using the password "competition".

20150429 cyber912 europe winning-team(Team Switzerland, winners of the 2015 European Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge with Amb. Christian Dussey from GCSP and Amb. Sorin Ducaru from NATO)

This year's winner was team Switzerland, composed of Swiss military officers enrolled in HEC Lausanne and ETH Zurich. A team of first-year undergraduates from the University of Aberystwyth in the United Kingdom came second, followed by a team from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland and a team from the Military University of Technology in Poland. The four finalist teams' different nationalities and academic backgrounds greatly demonstrate the diversity of the student teams that met in Geneva to compete this year.

The competition also gathered an impressive panel of judges, including Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges; Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar, Head of Cyber Policy Coordination at European External Action Service; Helena Lindberg, Director General of Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency; and many other distinguished cyber experts. The opening ceremony featured a video greeting by the Estonian President, the Hon. Toomas Hendrik Ilves. Additionally, student competitors were able to engage in question-and-answer sessions with world-class experts like Laurent Gisel, Legal Adviser for the International Committee of the Red Cross and Ambassador Urs Schmid, Switzerland's Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, as well as a group of young cybersecurity professionals advising the students as they plan their future careers.

The Student Challenge was made possible by the support of NATO's Public Diplomacy Division, F-Secure, Codenomicon, Delta Risk, CrowdStrike, the Division for Security Policy of the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs and the Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Sharing (MELANI) of the Swiss Department of Defense, Michael Hermann, and Matthew AngeloSee more...
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