The Cyber Statecraft Initiative will hold the first-ever entirely virtual Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge next week – on March 20th and 21st. In lieu of our in-person challenge at the American University Washington College of Law we will host the entire event over the Zoom platform. The agenda and format will look very similar to past Cyber 9/12 Challenges, except that it will be held remotely. The 2020 DC Challenge will be held on the same days and at the same time as originally scheduled. Plenary sessions will be held over a webinar, and competition rounds over video teleconference.

Sponsored By

NYU School of Professional Studies
Military Cyber Professionals Association

Welcoming remarks and opening keynote

Featuring Mr. Barry Pavel, Senior Vice President, and Director, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Atlantic Council; Dr. Trey Herr, Director, Cyber Statecraft Initiative, Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Atlantic Council; and the Hon. Jane Holl Lute, Board Director, Atlantic Council; President and CEO, SICPA North America; Former Deputy Secretary, US Department of Homeland Security.

Lunch panel

Featuring Dr. Ben Buchanan, Assistant Teaching Professor, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University; Ms. Winnona DeSombre, Security Analyst, Threat Analysis Group, Google; Dr. Nina Kollars, Associate Professor, US Naval War College; Non-resident Fellow, Modern War Institute, West Point; and Dr. Thomas Rid, Professor of Strategic Studies, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University.

Closing keynote

Featuring Bradford Willke, Acting Assistant Director for Stakeholder Engagement, U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agenda (CISA), Department of Homeland Security

Final round

Couldn’t Hack It 2.0 of Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs

Cyber SPAce Force of American University School of Public Affairs

STIA Stingers of Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service

Frequently asked questions

Competition Rounds

How do I log in to the virtual sessions? 

Your team will be sent an invitation to your round’s Zoom conference the day before the event using the emails provided during registration 

How will I know where to log in, and where is the schedule? 

We will send out links to Zoom conferences, along with an agenda, the day before the event. 

How are the virtual sessions being run? 

Virtual sessions will be run very close to the traditional competition structure and rules. Each zoom video conference will be managed by a timekeeper. This timekeeper will ensure that each team and judge logs on to the conference line and will manage the round.  

At the beginning of the round, decision documents will be shared by the timekeeper via Zoom and judges will have 2 minutes to review the documents prior to the Zoom conference beginning.  

Teams will have 10 minutes to present their briefing and 10 minutes for Q&A. Judges will be asked to mute themselves for the 10minute briefing session. 

Judges will then be invited to a digital breakout room and will have 5 minutes to discuss scores and fill out their scorecards via JotForm.  

After the scoring is over, judges will have 15 minutes to provide feedback to the team.  

A 10-minute break is scheduled before the start of the next round. Each round has been allotted several minutes of transition time for technical difficulties and troubleshooting. 

What do I need to log into a virtual session?  

Your team will need a computer (recommended), tablet, or smartphone with a webcam, microphone, and speaker or headphones. 

Your team will be provided with a link to the Zoom conference for each competition round your team is scheduled for. If you have any questions about the software, please see Zoom’s internal guide here. 

How are decision documents handled? 

Please email decision documents to by noon on Thursday, March 19th 

At the start of the round, timekeepers will share the decision documents with judges and give them 2 minutes to review. 

Will my team get scored the same way on Zoom as in person? 

Yes, the rules of the competition remain the same, including the rubric for scoring. 

How will my team receive Intel Pack 2 and Pack 3? 

We will send out the intelligence packs via email to all qualifying teams. 

How will the final round be run? 

The final round will be run identically to the traditional final round format except that each the only participants allowed in the competition Zoom conference will be final round judges and the assigned team.  

 Finalists will not able to watch the presentations of other teams in real time. Final rounds will be recorded and published on the Atlantic Council website after the final round ends. 


What is Zoom? 

Zoom is a free video conferencing application. We will be using it to host the competition remotely. 

Do I need to pay for Zoom to participate? 


Do I need a Zoom account? 

You do not have to have an account BUT we recommend that you do and download the application to participate in the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge. 

Please use your real name to register so we can track participation. A free Zoom account is all that is necessary to participate.  

What if I don’t have Zoom? 

Zoom is available for download online. You can also access Zoom conferences through a browser without downloading any software or registering.  

How do I use Zoom on my Mac? Windows? Linux Machine? 

Follow the instructions here  and here to get started. Please use the same email you registered with for your Zoom to sign up.  

Can I use Zoom on my mobile device? 

Yes, but we recommend that you use a computer or tablet 

Can each member of my team call into the Zoom conference line independently for our competition round? 

Yes, but again, we recommend that if a team is located in the same room, they use one computer to minimize disruption and feedback. 

Can other teams listen-in to my team’s session? 

Zoom links to competition sessions are team specific—only your team and your judges will have access to a session and sessions will be locked once all participants have joined.  

Staff will be monitoring all sessions. Any team member or coach in a session they are not assigned to will be removed and disqualified. 


What if my team loses internet connection or is disconnected during the competition? 

If your team experiences a loss of internet connection, we recommend following Zoom’s troubleshooting steps listed here. Please remain in contact with your timekeeper 

If your team is unable to rejoin the Zoom conference – please use one of the several dial-in lines included in the Zoom invitation.  

What if there is an audio echo or other audio feedback issue? 

There are three possible causes for audio malfunction during a meeting: 

  • A participant has both the computer and telephone audio active. 
  • A participant computer and telephone speakers are too close together.  
  • Multiple participant computers with active audio are in the same room.  

If this is the case, please disconnect the computer’s audio from other devices, and leave the Zoom conference on one computer. To avoid audio feedback issues, we recommend each team use one computer to compete. 

What if I am unable to use a video conference, can my team still participate? 

Zoom has dial-in lines associated with each Zoom conference event and you are able to call directly using any landline or mobile phone. 

We do not recommend choosing voice only lines unless absolutely necessary. Please reach out to us at if you have any concerns. 


Will there be keynotes or any networking activity remotely? 

Keynotes will continue as reflected on our agenda and will be broadcast with links to be shared with competitors the day before the event.  

There will be several networking sessions on Day 2 with experts available for conversation and to answer questions about careers, jobs, and their industry.  

We also encourage competitors and judges to join the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge Alumni Group on LinkedIn where we will post job vacancies and internship opportunities. 

Will the Atlantic Council cover the cost of hotels or flights which are non-refundable? 

Unfortunately, no. Due to the unforeseen circumstances and development of the novel coronavirus, the Atlantic Council will not be able to cover the cost of flights or lodging. 

If we still wish to travel and attend the event at AU, can we do so? 

No, the event will no longer be held in-person at American University. 

Will there be an in-person option if we will be in DC? 

No, there will be no in person events this year in an effort to protect the health and well-being of competition participants. 

Will anything be happening in person? 

No, see above. 

Where can I learn more about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? 

We would recommend you go look at the CDC’s website for additional information.  

Cyber Statecraft Initiative