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

The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge is an annual cyber policy and strategy competition where students from across the globe compete in developing policy recommendations tackling a fictional cyber catastrophe.

For the 2021-22 competition season, the Strategy Challenge will take place in Cape Town, South Africa on October 12-13, 2021; New York, New York, on November 4-5, 2021; Austin, Texas on January 22-23 2022; London, UK, on February 15-16, 2022; Washington, DC, in March 2022; Geneva, Switzerland on April 21-22, 2022.

Read on below for further information and registration details for each location.


About the strategy challenge

Now entering its tenth 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, Geneva, Canberra, and Lille.

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 one thousand students from universities in the United States, Europe, Indo-Pacific, and the Middle East. It also has received widespread social media attention, with the DC competition in both 2017 and 2018 receiving over 3.5 million impressions on Twitter. 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.

Sponsored By

Hewlett Foundation
NYU School of Professional Studies
Military Cyber Professionals Association

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:

Affiliate partner:


Competitions around the world

Canberra, Australia

In partnership with the Institute for Regional Security the second edition of the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge in Australia, students will compose policy recommendations and justify their decision-making process, considering the roles and responsibilities of relevant civilian, military, law enforcement, and private sector organizations, and updating their recommendations as the scenario evolves.

Cape Town, South Africa | October 12-13, 2021

In partnership with the Cybersecurity Capacity Centre for Southern Africa (C3SA) at the University of Cape Town, students will respond to a cyberattack with far-reaching impacts on the economy, politics, society and more. This competition is only open to students enrolled in academic institutions based in Africa.

Register for the inaugural Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge in South Africa.
Click here to download the rules for Cape Town 2021.

New York, New York | November 4-5, 2021

In partnership with Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, students will tackle challenges like assessing the impact of a major cyber attack, thinking through attribution and national responsibility, and response options for the President and private sector.

Learn more about the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge in New York, New York.

Austin, Texas | January 22-23, 2022

In partnership with the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin, students will respond to a fictional, evolving cyber scenario and will develop policy recommendations to a panel of senior judges while considering the legal, security and private sector implications.

Learn more about the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge in Austin, TX.

Lille, France | 2022

In partnership with the French Institute for Geopolitics (IFG) and the International Cybersecurity Forum (FIC), students will respond to a large scale cyber-attack on France during a major international event. Competitors will manage the tradeoffs that come with responding to a cyber crisis that poses challenges to state, military, and industry actors.

London, UK | February 15-16, 2022

In partnership with senior British government and industry stakeholders, student teams will compete to steer the UK through a large scale cyber crisis impacting businesses and critical services. Mixed discipline, creative teams will need to understand not just the technology and strategy challenge they are faced with but then also present potential solutions to senior government and industry decision makers on their options in the face of a cyber security crisis.

Learn more about the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge in London, UK.
Click here to download the rules for London, UK, 2020.

Washington, DC | March 2022

In Washington, DC, student teams confront a serious cybersecurity breach of national and international importance. Hosted for the first time in a fully-virtual format, 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.

Click here for the Washington, DC competition page

Click here to download the rules for the 2021 Washington, DC competition

Geneva, Switzerland | April 21-22, 2022

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.

Learn more about the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge in Geneva, Switzerland.


The Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, 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.