Cyber 9/12 Project December 5, 2023

2024 DC Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

By Cyber Statecraft Initiative

The Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, in partnership with American University’s School of International Service and Washington College of Law, will hold the twelfth annual Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge both virtually and in-person in Washington, DC on March 15-16, 2024. This event will be held in a hybrid format, meaning teams are welcome to attend either virtually via Zoom, or in-person at American University’s Washington College of Law. The agenda and format will look very similar to past Cyber 9/12 Challenges, except that it will be held in a hybrid format. Plenary sessions will be livestreamed via Zoom.

Held in partnership with:

Frequently Asked QuestionsVirtual

How do I log in to the virtual sessions? 

Your team and coach will be sent an invitation to your round’s Zoom meeting in the week leading up to the event using the emails provided during registration

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

For competition rounds you will receive an email invitation with your Zoom link. For all plenary sessions and for the team room assignments and agenda please check the Cyber 9/12 Linktree. 

How are the virtual sessions being run? 

Virtual sessions will be run very close to the traditional competition structure and rules. Each Zoom meeting 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 competition round.  

At the beginning of the round, decision documents will be shared by the timekeeper via Zoom and judges will have 2 minutes 30 seconds to review the document prior to the competitors’ briefing.  

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

Judges will then engage the team in a Q&A session, playing the role of members of the National Security Council (or other organization as listed on the Intelligence Report instructions).

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 10 minutes to provide direct 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. 

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. You can see the rules and the grading rubric here.

How does advancing through the competition work in a hybrid format? 

After the Qualifying Round on Day 1, the top 50% of in-person teams and the top 50% of virtual teams will advance to the Semi-Final Round on Day 2. After the Semi-Final Round, the top 3 teams, in-person or virtual, will advance to the Final Round.

How will my team receive Intelligence Report 2 and 3? 

We will send out the Intelligence Reports 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 the judges will be in-person. The virtual team will follow the standard final round format as outlined in the rules. After finishing the competition round, the virtual finalist team(s) will then join the plenary session webinar for the final round and watch the remaining finalist teams present.

Frequently Asked QuestionsIn-person

Where will the event be held in-person? 

For participants attending in-person, the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge will be held at American University’s Washington College of Law (WCL).

What time will the event start and finish? 

While the final schedule has yet to be finalized, participants will be expected at American University WCL at 8:00am on Day 1, and the competition will run until approximately 5:00pm, with an evening reception at approximately 6:30pm. Day 2 will commence at approximately 9:00am, and will finish at approximately 5:30pm. The organizing team reserves the right to modify the above timing. The official schedule of events will be distributed to teams in advance of the event and will be available on the Cyber 9/12 Linktree. All times are EST. 

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

Yes, the rules of the competition remain the same, including the rubric for scoring. You can see the rules and the grading rubric here.

How does advancing through the competition work in a hybrid format? 

After the Qualifying Round on Day 1, the top 50% of in-person teams and the top 50% of virtual teams will advance to the Semi-Final Round on Day 2. After the Semi-Final Round, the top 3 teams, in-person or virtual, will advance to the Final Round.

Can teams who are eliminated on Day 1 still participate in Day 2 events? 

Yes! All teams are welcome at all of the side-programming events. We strongly encourage teams eliminated on Day 1 to attend the competition on Day 2. There will be side-programming events such as Careers Talks, Resume Workshops, and other fun, cyber-related activities. See the Cyber 9/12 Linktree in the lead up to the event to see the full schedule of event.

Will meals be included for in-person attendees?

Yes, breakfast and lunch will be provided for all participants on both days. Light refreshments & finger foods will be provided at the evening reception on Day 1.

What should I pack/bring to a Cyber 9/12 event?

At the event: Please bring at least 5 printed copies of your decision documents to give to the judges on Day 1. Teams who do not have their decision document to give to judges will be assessed a penalty. We will help print documents on Day 2. Name tags will be provided to all participants, judges, and staff at registration on March 15. We ask you to wear these name tags throughout the duration of the competition. Name tags will be printed using the exact first and last name provided upon registration.

Dress Code: We recommend that students dress in business casual attire as teams will be conducting briefings. You can learn more about business casual attire here.

Electronic Devices: Cell phones, laptops, and wearable tech will not be used during presentations but we recommend teams bring their laptops as they will need to draft their decision documents for Day 2 and conduct research. Please refer to the competition rules for additional information and for our policy on technology accommodations.

Presentation Aids: Teams may not use any visual aid other than their decision documents in their oral policy brief, including but not limited to slideshow presentations, additional handouts, binders, or folders.

How do we get to American University?

American University is on the DC Metro Red line. Metro service from both Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Reagan National Airport (DCA) connect with the Metro Red Line at Metro Center. 


What is Zoom? 

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

Do I need a Zoom account? 

You do not have to have an account BUT we recommend that you do and download the desktop 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. Please see the troubleshooting section below for tips if multiple team members will be joining the competition round on independent devices in the same room.  

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

Zoom links to competition sessions are team specific—only your team, your coach and your judges will have access to a session and sessions will be monitored once all participants have joined. If an observer has requested to watch your team‘s presentation, your timekeeper will notify you at the start of your round.

Staff will be monitoring all sessions and all meetings will have a waiting room enabled in order to monitor attendance. 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.


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. Some side-programming events may not be available virtually. We apologize for the inconvenience.

We also encourage competitors and judges to join the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge Alumni Network on LinkedIn where we regularly share job and internship postings, as well as information about events and how to be a part of the cyber policy community worldwide.

How should I prepare for a Cyber 9/12?

Check out our preparation materials, which includes past scenarios, playbooks including award-winning policy recommendations and a starter pack for teams that includes templates for requesting coaching support or funding.

Cyber Statecraft Initiative