March 14, 2016
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.



This year’s winner was Team Fightin’ Electrons from Air University, coached by Dr. Pano Yannakogeorgos. T3am 3lit3 from National Intelligence University (coached by Dr. Michael David) came second, followed by the team from US Naval Academy (coached by Dr. Martin Libicki). Rounding out the top four finalists was Team AU Cybernauts (coached by Dr. Eric Novotny) from American University.

The competition was made possible through the generous support of Leidos, FireEye, and Symantec. The venue for the competition was provided by American University’s 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, Chief Washington Correspondent of the New York Times; Steven Chabinsky, Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Risk Officer at CrowdStrike; Gen. Norton Schwartz, President and CEO of Business Executives for National Security and former Chief of Staff of the US Air Force; Rosemary Wenchel, ‎Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Coordination at the US Department of Homeland Security; Roberta Stempfley, Director of Cybersecurity Implementation at MITRE Corporation; James Attwood, British Defence Staff at the British Embassy; William Wright, Director of Cybersecurity Partnerships at Symantec; Christopher Painter, Coordinator for Cyber Issues at the US Department of State; Katherine Charlet, Principal Director of Cyber Policy at Office of the Secretary of Defense ; and many more.

Student competitors were also able to engage in question-and-answer sessions with world-class cyber experts like MG John A. Davis (Ret.), Senior Military Advisor for Cyber to the Under Secretary of Defense at the US Department of Defense, The Hon. James Miller, the former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy at the US Department of Defense, and H.E. Sorin Ducaru, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges. 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 career panels of cybersecurity professionals advising the students as they plan their future careers.

In addition to the event in Washington, DC, the competition will, for the second time, also take place in Geneva, Switzerland on April 7-8, 2015. The event is organized in collaboration with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, with twenty-seven teams currently registered from across Europe and the United States and Iran.

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