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Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge Highlights

Team Black Knights from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is the winner of the 2018 Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge co-hosted by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) and the Atlantic Council. 

The two-day event, which ran on 5 and 6 April at the GCSP in the Maison de la Paix, welcomed 20 teams of four students each from Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Finalists included:

Already in its fourth year, the competition invited university students to tackle a simulated cyber incident in real time. This year, the challenge’s scenario was based on a European level cyber crisis targeting the aviation ecosystem. Teams were required to respond to ever-changing situations and offer strategic policy recommendations for government leaders and senior officials.

'The biggest surprise for us was to adapt a European mindset...'

Nolan Hedglin, Competitor

As far as the competition was concerned, the biggest surprise for us was to adapt a European mindset in how we develop and formulate our policies,’ says Nolan Hedglin, a member of Team Black Knights and a graduating senior, majoring in mathematics and physics. ‘Initially, we came off almost too militaristic because we were so focused on security. In fact, the EU framework is more about the actual asset response and how they want to protect their systems and keep operations moving, and we tried to focus more on this during the final round of the competition.

The judges featured prominent personalities in the field of cybersecurity and included Group Captain Shaun Harvey, Head of Cyber Operations, Cyberspace Operations Centre, NATO; Ms Chelsey Slack, Deputy Head, Cyber Defence Section, Emerging Security Challenges Division, NATO; Mr Pertti Jalasvirta, Partner, CLANED Group; Mr Gilles Fuchs, Founder, Cyber-AID.org and Executive-in-Residence, Global Fellowship Initiative, GCSP and Mr. Pete Cooper, Non-resident Senior Fellow, Cyber Statecraft Initiative, Atlantic Council. For full list of judges click here.

It’s important to explain what’s happening and deliver the news in a simplified manner to stakeholders,’ said Laura Crespo, Public Affairs Officer at the Swiss Federal Department, during the feedback segment of the competition. ‘Stakeholders are moving back and forth between meetings so they don’t always have time to digest long reports or decipher complex information,’ she said.

20 universities participated this year:

Team Black Knights follows in the steps of the 2017 winner – Team STUXNET from the Geneva School of Diplomacy.

The participants were very talented people dealing with cyber policy and regulations. They are the future of the cyber security.

Mr Rami Efrati, Founder and President of Firmitas, Competition judge

‘It was an amazing competition,’ said judge Rami Efrati, Founder and President of Firmitas, a cyber security consulting firm in Israel. ‘The participants were very talented people dealing with cyber policy and regulations. They are the future of the cyber security.’

The GCSP thanks all the sponsors that made this 4th edition of the Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge a success and looks forward to welcoming many of you in April 2019!


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