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Cyber 9/12: Building a Safer and More Diverse Future for Our Interconnected World


Eight years ago, Jason Healey, then the director of the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, and his team had a brilliant idea. They used the leftover money from a large cyber policy wargame to organize a small student competition. They identified a gap in opportunities for students to engage in a crisis management exercise that went beyond technical hackathons and capture-the-flag competitions. Since then, this experiment has turned into a global event run by the Atlantic Council and its many franchises, such as events ran by Pete Cooper in the UK or by Bobby Chesney at UT School of Law.


The field, which we quaintly themed cybersecurity, encompasses a huge range of professions, skills, and backgrounds and includes everything from information security professionals to policy, legal, and communications disciplines to cybersecurity evangelists and futurists.


Today there are as many people claiming to work in cybersecurity as there are lawyers and real estate agents. Most of the professionals in this field I have encountered came to it before specialized degrees and professional tracks were available. They learned on the job and evolved alongside the field and its challenges.


At the time when the competition started, the global push for cybersecurity talent was mostly focused on hard technical skills and information assurance. As our world became increasingly interconnected and our national security and economic prosperity became dependent on connectivity and vulnerability to cyber threats, the understanding of the skills that were needed shifted. The Cyber 9/12 strategy challenge is part of the activities available to students globally to train and test those skills.


The competition requires students to understand technology, policy, strategy, law, international relations, and every aspect of national and organizational cyber incident response, through a challenging but realistic scenario where presentational skills are as important as strategy and factual subject matter knowledge.

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Klara Jordan, Executive Director for the EU and Africa for the Global Cyber Alliance


The competition allows mixed-discipline teams coming from various academic areas to create connections for their future careers, test knowledge gained at school, interact with seasoned experts, and perhaps most importantly, feed off the energy of the gathered crowd and share their passion for the field.


I’ve had the privilege of being a part of the competition since 2013 – first as a staff member, then as a judge when I was in a private sector job, then as the director of the program, and then as a judge again after I left the Atlantic Council. No other event, experience, or professional interaction I’ve ever had during my career in this field has left me more energized, more informed, and feeling more like I am making a real impact on the future of the field.


I cannot list all of the brilliant individuals who have dedicated their time and energy to support the event and have enriched my understanding of the field, but each year I had the privilege of observing the likes of Crowdstrike’s Dmitri Alperovitch, Carnegie Mellon University’s Bobbie Stempfley, CISAC’s Chris Painter, or SANS Institute’s James Voorhees patiently sharing their expertise and experience with students and providing valuable advice for their future careers. Organizations such as Microsoft, MITRE, Rapid 7, and Baker McKenzie’s DC office have put their money where their mouth is and have supported the event financially or in kind, resulting in career defining opportunities for some of the competitors.


In a field where we all claim to be in it for the mission and looking for measurable impact, supporting this event is one of the rare opportunities to do so. I am looking forward again to being part of the event in 2020 in London, UK, and I encourage anyone and everyone to learn about it and consider supporting it financially. To learn more, please visit: https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/programs/scowcroft-center-for-strategy-and-security/cyber-statecraft-initiative/cyber-912/


Klara Jordan is the Executive Director, EU and Africa, at the Global Cyber Alliance. You can follow her on Twitter at @JordanKlara or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Smarter Not Harder

announced as new bronze sponsor of cyber strategy challenge UK Cyber 9/12 in 2020

Donated prize to include ‘smart working’ training for one of the winning teams

Smarter Not Harder (SNH) has been confirmed as a bronze sponsor of this year’s UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, which is being hosted by the Atlantic Council in London for the third time on Monday 17th and Tuesday 18th February 2020. As part of its sponsorship, SNH will deliver free ‘smart working’ training to one of the winning teams on site at their university.

The UK Cyber 9/12 competition aims to identify and foster the next generation of leaders for the cyber security challenges of the future. The challenge has been created to provide competitors across varied academic disciplines a deeper understanding of the strategy and policy challenges associated with cyber security and crisis management.

Smarter Not Harder provides training, coaching and consultancy to help individuals and teams to work smarter and improve their personal productivity. This includes the ‘SmartWorking’ programme for undergraduates and graduates, the objective of which is to make them ‘work-ready’ and give them a personal competitive advantage.

Simon Barrett, Partner, Smarter Not Harder, said: Smarter Not Harder are delighted to partner with The Cyber UK 9/12 Strategy Challenge, to provide the next generation of cyber experts with best practice in personal productivity, and give them the best possible start in their careers.”

Part interactive learning experience and part competitive scenario exercise, Cyber UK 9/12 is about more than just scoring highly and winning prizes. The challenge will enable students to gain an invaluable and realistic learning experience irrespective of their academic discipline, be they technical, policy or strategy. It also brings current senior national and international cyber security thought leaders together with those of the future and highlights the variety of multidisciplinary career paths available across government and industry.

The competition will once again take place at BT Tower, with BT recently confirmed as a strategic partner of the 2020 event. Registrations for the cyber strategy challenge closed on 15 November and the university teams that will be taking part in February 2020 will soon be announced.


Pete Cooper, Competition Director and Atlantic Council Fellow, said: “UK Cyber 9/12 and Smarter Not Harder share the same mission in preparing students for the workplace of today and of tomorrow, giving them an insight into the opportunities and realities that workplace offers, and providing them with the skills and tools they need to navigate the cyber security and digital challenges we face. 

“SNH is a great fit for the UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, and their offer of ‘SmartWorking’ training for one of the winning teams, and their university, is a generous and exciting prospect. We’re really looking forward to working with them in delivering this year’s competition and, most importantly, creating a pipeline of ‘work-ready’ graduates for the UK’s digital economy.”


Beazley proud platinum sponsor of Atlantic Council’s UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

Major competition to support next generation of cybersecurity experts

London, December 18th, 2019




Beazley, a leading provider of global cyber insurance and data breach response services, is proud to support a major competition and educational event, designed to identify and encourage the next generation of cybersecurity experts.


The UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, will be held in London’s BT Tower on February 17th – 18th 2020. It will bring together 17 multidisciplinary teams from UK universities who will take part in a competitive crisis scenario exercise designed to challenge and deepen their understanding of cybersecurity and risk management, as well as the need for a multidisciplinary response. The teams will be tasked with responding to a realistic cyber incident that will test their understanding and skills across technology, policy, strategy, law, international relations, risk and crisis response.


Students attending the UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge will also have access to workshops, panel discussions, job fairs and mentoring sessions, all aimed at helping them to progress along their cyber career paths into either government or industry.


As the sole platinum sponsor, Beazley will be providing guidance in developing the scenario, judging rounds of the competition, and a global team of cyber specialists from Beazley will also attend the event.


Paul Bantick, London market and international cyber & tech focus group leader, said: “The UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge will provide an excellent opportunity for young people who are considering a career in cybersecurity to gain greater insight into this industry. Insurance and risk management are vital parts of the cybersecurity landscape and require a multitude of skills and diverse thinking to unlock new challenges faced every day. Those of us lucky enough to work in this fast-paced and fascinating sector are all too aware that we need to always attract and develop the next generation of talent and we are delighted to be supporting such an exciting initiative.”



Pete Cooper, UK Cyber 9/12 competition founder, director and Atlantic Council senior fellow, said: “We’re delighted to have Beazley on board as our platinum sponsor and first partner from the global insurance industry. Raising the levels of cyber security capability across the country will take a diverse workforce and support from every sector. Insurance companies such as Beazley have a hugely influential role to help drive changes in how we identify and develop our future cyber security talent. It’s fantastic to have Beazley’s contribution to the UK Cyber 9/12  competition this year.”


The third annual UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge will be held in London’s BT Tower on February 17th – 18th 2020.  More information can be found on the Atlantic Council’s website:  https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/news/press-releases/atlantic-councils-cyber-9-12-strategy-challenge-returns-to-london-for-its-third-year/.


For further information, please contact:


Beazley Group

Mairi MacDonald
+44 (0)207 674 7164

 Atlantic Council’s Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge returns to London for its third year


 BT Tower to host the competition, as British Telecom returns as Strategic Partner


WASHINGTON, DC – The Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative is hosting the third annual Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge in London on February 17-18, 2020. The competition will once again take place at BT Tower with our 2020 Strategic Partner – British Telecom.

The Challenge aims to identify and foster the next generation of leaders for the cybersecurity challenges of the future. Created in 2012, the competition aims to provide competitors across various academic disciplines with a deeper understanding of the strategy and policy challenges associated with cybersecurity and crisis management.

With just three months until the 2020 competition, 25 university teams have submitted applications to participate and 17 have been invited to London to compete in February. We will be joined by 17 teams of four from Bournemouth University, London School of Economics, King’s College London, Queen’s University Belfast, Royal Holloway University, University College London, University of East Anglia, University of Manchester, University of Oxford, and University of Portsmouth.

“We are delighted to present this year’s London edition of the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, once more in partnership with British Telecom” said Atlantic Council President and CEO Frederick Kempe. “Since its founding, the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge has been a unique mechanism to tackle the cyber skills shortage by training and mentoring the next generation of cybersecurity professionals across three continents.”

Pete Cooper, Competition Director and Atlantic Council Senior Fellow said, “We’re very excited that the UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge is returning to London for its third year. We again look forward to welcoming fantastically capable, mixed-discipline teams that demonstrate the benefits that such diversity brings when steering through a complex cyber crisis.

“Previous participants have told us that they valued the opportunity to demonstrate and develop their understanding of strategy, presentation skills, and knowledge of cyber policy by engaging with today’s senior decision-makers. This is a key aspect of what we at Cyber 9/12 do—showing the talent of the future the range of amazing roles they can aspire to, and linking them with potential employers. Moreover, considering the pressing need to increase diversity in cybersecurity, I’m pleased to say that our multidisciplinary approach makes a huge difference: in 2019, just over 50% of our competitors were women. 

“We’re really looking forward to another amazing competition this year – and especially the creative ideas that the students will bring to the table in response to the 2020 scenario as it unfolds.”

Part interactive learning experience and part competitive scenario exercise, the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge is about more than just obtaining high scores and winning prizes. The Strategy Challenge provides students a practical learning experience irrespective of academic discipline through a competition dynamic alongside panels, job fairs, and mentorship sessions. It connects current senior national and international cybersecurity practitioners with those of the future, highlighting the variety of multidisciplinary cyber career paths available across government and industry.

Les Anderson, Chief Information & Security Officer of British Telecom, added, “BT’s global cybersecurity business employs thousands of people worldwide. Of course, many of these are technical specialists but they cannot do the job alone. Our business also needs access to non-technical skills to function and grow effectively. We believe that the private sector has a significant role to play in building this broad base of cybersecurity skills for the future. This is why BT is proud to support Cyber 9/12 UK for the third year running.”

The competition is taking place with the kind support and sponsorship of BT as our Strategic Partner.  Other confirmed partners include Beazley, Sage, Standard Chartered Bank, ReSolve, Quisk, Cyber Defence Alliance, Global Cyber Alliance, and techUK. Further sponsors and partners will be announced in the near future.

For questions, please email press@atlanticcouncil.org.  Follow the conversation online using #Cyber912.



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