Please read below for a short introduction to each member of our volunteer organisational team!

In addition to his role as Director of the UK Cyber 9 / 12 Strategy Challenge, Rob is a Lecturer in Information Activities at Cranfield University (www.cranfield.ac.uk) at the UK Defence Academy. He teaches on the UK Ministry of Defence’s Cyberspace Operations MSc and supports the UK’s Defence Cyber School educating senior MoD Leaders about Warfare in the Information Age.

His research topics include Cyber Deception, Information Warfare & Covert Action. Rob has extensive experience working with cyber practitioners in the planning and delivery of cyber operations. Rob also works for Artifice (www.artifice.co.uk) providing training support to national security organisations on deceptive thinking. Prior to joining Cranfield, he worked in the field of Influence and Information Operations for the UK MoD since 2003.

Please click here for a video message from Rob Black

Pete Cooper works at the forefront of critical cyber security challenges. This has included global cyber security strategies, advising the ICRC on minimising risk to civilians during cyber conflict to supporting the World Economic Forum and more. His industry work includes advising on cyber security strategy, risk, innovation, active cyber defence, culture and skills.

He currently leads the cross Government Cyber Defence team in the Cabinet Office with a remit covering the Government Cyber Security Strategy, standards, assurance, cyber red teaming and serious incident / vulnerability management.

Prior to this, he was an RAF fast jet pilot, one of the first military cyber operations officers and the first Strategic Cyber Operations adviser to the UK MOD and government. Additionally, he founded the Aerospace Village at DEFCON and Cyber 9/12 UK. He holds a Post Grad in Cyberspace Operations, is a non-resident Senior Fellow of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative of the Atlantic Council and a visiting Senior Research Fellow of Kings College London.

Safa Shahwan Edwards is the Associate Director of the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. In this role, she manages the administration and external communications of the Initiative, as well as the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, the Initiative’s global cyber policy and strategy competition. Safa holds an MA in International Affairs with a concentration in Conflict Resolution from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs and a BA in Political Science from Miami University of Ohio. Safa is of Bolivian and Jordanian heritage and speaks Spanish and Arabic.

Will Loomis is an assistant director with the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. In this role, he manages a wide range of projects at the nexus of geopolitics and national security with cyberspace. Prior to joining the Atlantic Council, he worked on market research and strategy at an emerging technology start-up in Madrid, Spain. 

 Originally from New York, he holds a BA in Political Science, with a focus on International Relations and Securities Studies from Colgate University. Will is also a Certified Bourbon Steward.


Danny Steed is Lecturer in Cyber Security at Cranfield University. A lecturer, author, public speaker and consultant, Danny's experience covers the creation and delivery of numerous courses specialising in national security strategy to student, professional, and military cadres.

Danny also has experience of government service in operational cyber security as well as private industry consultancy. 

His second book, The Politics and Technology of Cyberspace, was published by Routledge in 2019.

Boris Taratine is a passionate visionary and an influential ambassador of cybersecurity and cyber defence. Through decades of his career, he held many senior technical and leadership roles across different industries. He has been working with renowned companies across the Globe, was engaged in consulting with numerous organizations. Being a trusted adviser to the C-suite, he has helped global businesses understand the importance of cyber disciplines and take proactive actions for improvements. He actively promotes industry collaboration, participates in various industry forums, and is a frequent speaker at various industry events to influence global cybersecurity development.

Boris is the highest honour graduate at the Saint-Petersburg State University. During his Ph.D. studies, he co-authored a number of publications and patents granted under the NATO HiTech project; further has many publications and dozens of patents granted and pending. He is willing to share all the knowledge with anyone who wants to learn – this can be you.

After completing his undergraduate in Computer Science at the University of East Anglia in 2019, Niklas began his transition into cyber security by competing in both the Cyber 9/12 UK Strategy Challenge, and the Cyber Crime Cup™ Competition. This was swiftly followed by a postgraduate degree in Cyber Security.


Since then, Niklas has worked as a Research Associate within the University of East Anglia, spending time researching the effectiveness and trust behind chatbots as well as teaching as an Associate Tutor. Niklas is now completing a PhD at the University of East Anglia, researching different methods of inoculation that can be used against disinformation, with a focus on gamification.


Alex Blinda is a Senior Analyst in the Cyber Threat Detection and Response team with PwC UK and a two-time previous competitor in the UK Cyber 9/12 strategy competition. Alex is passionate about the defence side of cybersecurity, including threat hunting, incident response and digital forensics.


Alex graduated with a BSc in Computer Science and an MSc in Cyber Security from the University of Birmingham. He had worked for various companies in both software development and cybersecurity consultancy roles. Due to the great experience he had in the UK Cyber 9/12 competition as a participant and organiser, Alex jumped at the opportunity to help the Cyber 9/12 team in organising the 2022 edition.


Ben Wainwright is a 2021 first-class masters graduate in computer science with innovation. He is a previous competitor in UK Cyber 9/12,with his team finishing third in the 2021 competition. Ben is passionate about combining his background in technology and human-centred design within the cyber security realm.

Ben has previous professional experience in security research, data analysis and design consulting. He is also co-founding a meditation business, VIVE Meditation, which focuses on the empowering side of the practice. Ben brings his varied experience to the UK Cyber 9/12 team, primarily focusing on social media and student engagement.


Harriet Turner is currently completing a master’s in National Security Studies ay King’s College London where she is exploring the extent to which strategic empathy could mitigate the cybersecurity dilemma between nation states. Harriet first discovered her interest in Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy during her undergraduate degree in Politics and International Relations at the University of Leicester.

She has previously worked for a National Security Think Tank in London where she supported the Executive Director and wider team with a variety of projects. Harriet was keen to join the Cyber 9/12 Team to raise awareness of this one-of-a-kind competition in the UK and give talented students insight into the exciting cybersecurity opportunities post-university to help reduce the cybersecurity skills gap.

Alan is a previous competitor in the UK Cyber 9/12 strategy challenge and joined as a volunteer overseeing the website.
Most recently Alan was one of two technical leads for the UK Cyber 9/12 challenge for it's 2021 first ever virtual event. For this voluntary work, he received a Vice Chancellor's Commendation for Excellence from the University of Portsmouth.

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