Team Security Lancaster Make it to Semi-Finals of Atlantic Council’s Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

Cyber 9/12

The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge is designed to encourage and equip the next generation of policy and strategy leaders with the skills and experiences necessary for tackling the cyber security challenges of the future. It brings together experts in cyber security and policy from all over the world to coach, advise and judge each team’s efforts in responding effectively to an unfolding cyber crisis. This year’s scenario involved an evolving landscape of cyber threats/risks facing Critical National Infrastructure in the form of attacks against fuel distribution facilities and the energy sector more broadly.

Coached by Dr. Mark Lacy, Team Security Lancaster was one of the most diverse teams to take part this year, comprising students at varying stages of their academic lives and spanning multiple disciplines. Those taking part were: Anna Dyson, PhD student of International Relations, Warren Stockdale, part-time Masters student of Cyber Security, Blair Welsh, first year Undergraduate of Data Science and Kenneth Wilkinson-Roberts, Masters student of Religion and Conflict. Together, team Security Lancaster pooled their diverse skillset to create multi-dimensional policy recommendations that sought to tackle the unfolding scenario in an innovative manner.

After presenting their initial policies to a panel of 5 expert judges and defending their decisions during a round of questioning, all teams were gathered together to find out who was advancing to the semi-final rounds. Team Security Lancaster were delighted to find out they had been chosen as one of the advancing teams and were also presented with an award for the best written brief!

Advancing to the semi-finals entailed being given new information as to how the cyber crisis had evolved. In response to this, teams had to go away and work through the night to compile a new set of policy recommendations to present to Government in the morning. Speaking about this experience, PhD student Anna Dyson said: “This was the perfect chance to experience what it would be like to respond to an unfolding cyber-attack. The real-time element to the competition is extremely interesting and worthwhile as it presents you with a very unique opportunity to fully immerse yourself within an escalating crisis situation. The lessons and skills you take away from that experience are invaluable.”

On the final day of the competition, the team presented their new policy recommendations to a panel of expert judges and again had to defend their decisions. This gave the students a chance to gain real-world insights and feedback from leaders in the field of cyber security as well as top level strategists. Although the team did not make the final round this time, they are keen to implement the lessons and skills they learnt at Cyber 9/12 this year and hopefully take those forward when participating again in the future.

Reflecting on the event overall, Masters student Warren Stockdale said: “This was an amazing experience for Team Security Lancaster and we have all learnt so much by taking part in this event. For me personally, it helped significantly to focus my skills on a real-world challenge and the competition inspired me to do some of my best work. As a result of participating in the competition, we all have a better sense of direction when thinking about how to effectively apply our skillsets to real-world challenges.”

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