Team Pallas Athena from University of the Bundeswehr Munich Wins the 9th Geneva Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

Team Pallas Athena from University of the Bundeswehr Munich Wins the 9th Geneva Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

Team Pallas Athena from University of the Bundeswehr Munich is the winner of the 2023 Geneva Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, co-organised by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and Atlantic Council 

This two-day virtual event took place on 13-14 April 2023. The competition received a record number of applications. 28 teams were selected, comprised of nearly 150 competitors and coaches. As the most international edition of the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge series, this year’s Geneva competition involved competitors from 33 academic institutions in 16 countries including Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, France, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Serbia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda, United Kingdom and the United States. 

Four teams competed in the third and final round: 

The Geneva Cyber 9/12 challenges university students to respond to an evolving cyber crisis scenario in real-time. This year, the scenario revolved around a massive DDoS attack targeting the network of a European telecommunications company and coinciding with the product launch of a major tech giant. Over the two days, the teams had to quickly respond to new developments and offer policy recommendations to a panel of seasoned cybersecurity experts, who served as judges and role-played as the leadership of ENISA. The students were assessed based on the quality of their proposals, analysis, creativity and presentation skills. 

Team awards:  

More than 40 seasoned cybersecurity professionals participated as judges. They include: 

  1. Dr Carlos Anastasiades, Senior Manager, KPMG Switzerland 
  2. Mr Robin Andreasson, Manager, KPMG Sweden 
  3. Dr Christopher Ankersen, Clinical Professor, NYU Center for Global Affairs 
  4. Ms Sarah Backman, PhD Candidate, Stockholm University 
  5. Ms Carla Baker, Senior Director, Public Policy, Palo Alto Networks 
  6. Mr Johnny Bengtsson, Forensic Expert, Swedish National Forensic Centre 
  7. Mr Mattia Caniglia, Associate Director, DFRLab, Atlantic Council 
  8. Dr Rafik Chaabouni, Cyber Security Architect, Swiss Armed Forces Staff 
  9. Ms Kaja Ciglic, Senior Director, Microsoft 
  10. Prof. Lynne Coventry, Director, Abertay cyberQuarter, Abertay University 
  11. Prof. Frederick Douzet, Professor, Institut Français de Géopolitique 
  12. Brigadier General (res.) Rami Efrati, Former Head of the Civilian Division, Israel National Cyber Bureau, Prime Minister’s Office 
  13. Dr Amy Ertan, Cyber Policy Officer, NATO 
  14. Ms Elvire François, Government Affairs Manager, Microsoft 
  15. Mr Janne Haldesten, CSO, Sectyne 
  16. Ms Verena Jackson, Lawyer/Researcher, Bundeswehr University Munich 
  17. Mr Saldys Jusu-Sheriff, Managing Partner, Africa Risk Management and Compliance Partners 
  18. Dr Mazaher Kianpour, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Norwegian University of Science and Technology 
  19. Dr Djordje Krivokapic, Associate Professor, University of Belgrade 
  20. Dr Marina Krotofil, Senior Technical Advisor, ISSP 
  21. Ms Sonia Kumar, Senior Manager, Cyber Defence Incident, Vodafone Group Ltd 
  22. Prof. Clara Maathuis, Assistant Professor, Open University of the Netherlands 
  23. Ms Merle Maigre, Programme Director of Cybersecurity, e-Governance Academy 
  24. Dr Nebile Pelin Mantı, Academic, cyber/space law, Istanbul University 
  25. Mr Nicolas Mayencourt, Founder & CEO, DreamLab Technologies AG 
  26. Mr Inge O. Moen, Senior Advisor, Norwegian University of Science and Technology 
  27. Prof. Simin Nadjm-Tehrani, Professor in Computer Science, Linköping University 
  28. Dr Tim Nedyalkov, TISO, Commonwealth Bank of Australia 
  29. Dr Brett van Niekerk, Senior Lecturer, Durban University of Technology 
  30. Ms Dixie O’Donnell, Strategic Risk Manager, Trust & Safety, Google Ireland 
  31. Mr Floyd Pernisch, Cybersecurity & Privacy Leader – Investment, IKEA 
  32. Mr Jody Prescott, Lecturer, University of Vermont 
  33. Dr Trishana Ramluckan, Research Fellow, University of KwaZulu-Natal 
  34. Ms Zainab Ruhwanya, Lecturer in Cybersecurity, University of Cape Town 
  35. Dr Josef Schroefl, Deputy Director, Col S&D, European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats 
  36. Mr Daniel Seiler, IT Project Manager, Swiss National Cyber Security Centre 
  37. Dr James Shires, Senior Research Fellow, Chatham House 
  38. Ms Limor Shmerling Magazanik, Owner, Leshem Cyber Consulting 
  39. Mr Nick Small, Strategic Advisor, Cyber Resilience for Development (Cyber4Dev) 
  40. Ms Szilvia Toth, Cyber Security Officer, OSCE 
  41. Ms Noëlle van der Waag-Cowling, Cyber Program Lead, SIGLA, Stellenbosch University 

Several ceremonies and side events took place in parallel with the competition. Mr Lorenz Inglin, Head of Cyber Defence at Swisscom, kicked off the event with a keynote speech on “5G and Beyond: Security of Future Mobile Infrastructures.” Swisscom and Ernst & Young, two of the competition’s sponsors, hosted online career briefings for the participants about the various opportunities they offer in cybersecurity. 

On Day 2, Ms Christina Orisich, Deputy Director of the GCSP, moderated a panel discussion on careers in cybersecurity. The participants later received an expert briefing by Ms Heli Tiirmaa-Klaar, Director of the Digital Society Institute and former Estonian Ambassador for Cyber Diplomacy, on geopolitical cyber risks and lessons from the 2007 Estonia cyber-attacks. Finally, Ms Safa Shahwan Edwards, Deputy Director of Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, moderated the “Scenario Masterclass” panel where judges weighed in on this year’s fictional cyber crisis.  

The event closed with a keynote address by Mr Märt Volmer, Undersecretary for Global Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, before the winners were announced by the Competition Director, Mr Gazmend Huskaj, and Head of the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative, Dr Trey Herr. 

The following 28 teams participated (alphabetical order):   

  1. Team 405 Found, IMSISS programme 
  2. Team Aalborg University, Aalborg University, Denmark 
  3. Team Colonials Pipeline, George Washington University, United States 
  4. Team Cyber Punks, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands 
  5. Team Cyber Sailors, US Coast Guard Academy, United States 
  6. Team Cyber Transcendence, European University Institute, Italy 
  7. Team Cyberiyada, University of Belgrade (et alia), Serbia 
  8. Team CyTroopers, Makerere University, Uganda 
  9. Team Error 451 Unavailable for Legal Reasons, Swedish Defence University, Sweden 
  10. Team Four-Byte Force, OTH Regensburg, Germany 
  11. Team GSD_makeyouWannaCry, Geneva School of Diplomacy, Switzerland 
  12. Team Hydra, ETH Zurich, Switzerland 
  13. Team International Cyber Tigers, Geneva Graduate Institute, Switzerland 
  14. Team Mak Shields, Makerere University, Uganda 
  15. Team Moravian Malware Melee, Masaryk University & Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic 
  16. Team Name`; DROP TABLE users, Masaryk University & Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic 
  17. Team nETHics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland 
  18. Team Pallas Athena, Bundeswehr University Munich, Germany 
  19. Team PetyaPirates, University College London, United Kingdom 
  20. Team Solid Cyber, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa 
  21. Team Special Defence Service, Swedish Defence University, Sweden 
  22. Team TalNups, TalTech & National University of Public Service, Estonia & Hungary 
  23. Team The Phishing Phighters, Masaryk University & Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic 
  24. Team togETHer, ETH Zurich, Switzerland 
  25. Team Trolling Thunder, Brussels School of Governance, Belgium 
  26. Team USMA Golden Knights, US Military Academy, West Point, United States 
  27. Team W0LV3R1NES, Utah Valley University, United States 
  28. Team Watchdogs, ETH Zurich (et alia), Switzerland 


Testimonials from the competitors 

Poni Henry, who competed on Team Mak Shields and won the award for Best Teamwork shared her thoughts on this year’s Geneva competition: “The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge was an intense and immersive experience. It provided us with a unique opportunity to gain valuable insights into cybersecurity issues and sharpen our critical thinking and problem-solving skills. I encourage everyone interested in cybersecurity to participate in this competition, and I am confident that it will be a life-changing experience.” 

“It was a challenging and rewarding experience, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to showcase my skills and knowledge in cybersecurity and policy” said another competitor, Víctor Tuxans Pajares, who reached the final with Team GSD_makeyouWannaCry. “The competition has tested my ability to think creatively and critically, as well as my teamwork and communication skills.” 


The GCSP thanks our sponsors at Swisscom, the Permanent Representation of Estonia to the UN in Geneva and Ernst & Young for making the 2023 Geneva Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge possible. We look forward to welcoming many of you in 2024! 


Screenshots from the competition

Picture 1


Team nETHics from ETH Zurich presents to judges including Ms Sarah Backman, Ms Dixie O’Donnell and Mr Daniel Seiler during the final round. 

screenshot cyber 9/12

Team Watchdogs from EPFL, ETH Zurich and Hochschule Luzern answers questions from the judges including Mr Daniel Seiler, Professor Frederick Douzet, Dr Tim Nedyalkov and Mr Johnny Bengtsson.