We frequently hear the terms “Cyber 9/11” and “Digital Pearl Harbor,” but what might policymakers do the day after a crisis? The Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge is an annual cyber policy competition for students across the globe to compete in developing national security policy recommendations tackling a fictional cyber catastrophe. In 2017, the Student Challenge will take place in Washington, DC in March, Geneva, Switzerland in April, and Sydney, Australia in September.

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 Now entering its fifth year, the Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge is a one-of-a-kind competition designed to provide students across academic disciplines with a deeper understanding of the policy challenges associated with cyber crisis and conflict. Part interactive learning experience and part competitive scenario exercise, it challenges teams to respond to a realistic, evolving cyberattack and analyze the threat it poses to national, international, and private sector interests.

Students have a unique opportunity to interact with expert mentors and high-level cyber professionals while developing valuable skills in policy analysis and presentation. The competition has already engaged over 700 students from universities in the United States, United Kingdom, France, United Arab Emirates, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Sweden, Finland, and Estonia.

In Washington, DC, in partnership with American University's School of International Service, student teams confront a serious cybersecurity breach of national and international importance. Teams will compose policy recommendations and justify their decision-making process, considering the role and implications for relevant civilian, military, law enforcement, and private sector entities and updating the recommendations as the scenario evolves.

In Geneva, Switzerland, in partnership with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), students respond to a major cyber-attack on European networks. Competitors will provide recommendations balancing individual national approaches and a collective crisis management response, considering capabilities, policies, and governance structures of NATO, EU, and individual nations. The competition fosters a culture of cooperation and a better understanding of these organizations and their member states in responding to cyberattacks.

. . .as a competitor:

Graduate and undergraduate students from any university, including defense colleges and military academies, are invited to apply to compete in teams of four. There are no requirements for team composition based on academic majors, education levels, or nationalities of team members.



. . .as a coach:

Each team must recruit a coach to assist in preparing for the competition. One coach can serve for sever¬al teams. Teams are expected to consult with their coaches to help develop and revise their policy ideas for the competition and confer with them during breaks between competition rounds.

. . .as a judge:

Experts with significant policy and cybersecurity ex¬perience are invited to serve as judges. Judges eval-uate the student teams' oral presentations based on the quality of their policy responses, their deci-sion-making processes, and their presentation skills. Previous judges include practitioners from various sectors, such as government, international organiza¬tions, information and communications technology, finance, and the press.

. . .as an observer:

All competition events are open to the public, and we welcome anyone interested in cybersecurity policy to join us as an observer.

. . .as a sponsor:

The Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge is a unique oppor¬tunity for companies to support next-generation cy¬bersecurity education on both sides of the Atlantic and position themselves as innovative thought lead¬ers in the field. Depending on the level of sponsor¬ship, our partners receive great benefits including recruitment of top tech and policy talent; extensive advertisement in print and online; and keynote and judging opportunities for company representatives.


The Student Challenge presents a prime opportunity for companies to engage with top policy and technical talent from around the world. With its numerous recruiting events, marketing opportunities, and speaking slots, the competition allows organizations to
  • hire skilled workforce from a pool of 150+ students;
  • network with leading and emerging experts in major international policy hubs;
  • advance next-generation cybersecurity training; and
  • demonstrate thought leadership in a field of rapidly increasing significance.
For more information on partnership opportunities, download the brochure or contact Ms. Anni Piiparinen, Associate Director, Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or +1-202-292-5164