About the Strategy Challenge

Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge logo

Now entering its twelfth year globally, the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge is a one-of-a-kind cyber competition designed to provide students from across academic disciplines with a deeper understanding of the policy and strategy challenges associated with management of tradeoffs during a cyber crisis. Part interactive learning experience and part competitive scenario exercise, it challenges students to respond to a realistic, evolving scenario of international cyber crisis, analyze the threat it poses to national, international, and private-sector interests, and provide recommendations on the best course of action to mitigate the crisis. Since its establishment in Washington, DC, in 2012, the competition has expanded its reach globally, with regional competitions across the United States, as well as in London, Dundee, Geneva, Paris, Santo Domingo, Tashkent, and Cape Town.

Through the competition, students have the unique opportunity to interact with expert mentors and high-level cyber professionals while developing valuable skills in policy analysis and presentation. To date, the competition has engaged over 1,000 students from universities in the United States, Europe, Latin America, Indo-Pacific, Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Through its unique crisis scenario format, mentorship, recruiting, and networking opportunities, the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge has expanded its global reach, will continue to build on its reputation as a pipeline for the next generation of cyber policymakers, and will continue to grow as a global community of multidisciplinary cybersecurity professionals.

A major cyber attack has occurred—how should your nation respond?

Why Cyber 9/12?

For years, policymakers have explored what a catastrophic cyberattack might look like— with terms like “Cyber Pearl Harbor” or “Cyber 9/11” regularly referenced in the US. In 2012, the Cyber Statecraft Initiative took this debate and examined it from a different point of view. In anticipation of national cyber crises, like a Cyber 9/11, how can we train future cyber policy leaders to handle the crisis? How can we prepare them for the day after the incident, the Cyber 9/12.

In the twelve years since Cyber 9/12 was established, the competition program has grown into an internationally recognized brand and experience for students interested in cyber policy.


Preparation materials


For the 2023-24 competition season, the Strategy Challenge will take place in:

  • Cape Town, South Africa, on August 18-19, 2023
  • Miami, Florida, on September 13-14, 2023
  • New York, New York, on October 13-14, 2023
  • Dundee, UK, on November 16-17, 2023
  • Austin, Texas, on January 27-28, 2024
  • London, UK, on February 20-21, 2024
  • Washington, DC, on March 15-16, 2024

For the 2024-25 competition season, the Strategy Challenge will take place in:

  • Geneva, Switzerland, on April 4-5, 2024
  • Paris, France, on April 24-26, 2024
  • New York, New York (Trust & Safety), on May 13-14, 2024
  • San José, Costa Rica, on July 22-23, 2024
  • Cape Town, South Africa, in Fall, 2024
  • Miami, Florida, in Fall 2024
  • Dundee, UK, in Fall 2024
  • New York, New York, in Fall 2024
  • Austin, Texas, in Spring 2025
  • London, UK, in Spring 2025
  • Washington, DC, in Spring 2025

Dates and additional locations will be added soon. Please be sure to check our page and X (formerly Twitter) account regularly for updates.

The NextGen Fund

Cyber 9/12 is a singular opportunity to sharpen the leading edge of the cyber skills pipeline through competition, training, and teamwork. This pipeline is not yet sufficiently diverse however, reflecting a critical challenge for the broader cybersecurity community. Cybersecurity benefits from a richer set of voices and perspectives, in the analysis, at the keyboard, and in the boardroom.  

Making Cyber 9/12 accessible to underrepresented students and nascent professionals in the cybersecurity community is more than a goal, it’s a core requirement. The NextGen Fund builds on Cyber 9/12’s legacy as a unique global competition and history of innovation to bring the best and the brightest into the cyber workforce of the future. 

Supported by

Presented by

The Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, under the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab), works at the nexus of geopolitics and cybersecurity to craft strategies to help shape the conduct of statecraft and to better inform and secure users of technology.