A competitor's view of UK Cyber 9/12

Emna shares her experience of the 2022 UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge.


Emna Haddouk

1/31/20232 min read

In 2021, I had the opportunity to participate in the UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, an annual competition that, due to COVID, moved from an in-person event at the BT Tower to an online format in 2022. The goal of the challenge is to provide competitors with a fictional scenario that requires them to act as senior advisors to the government and propose policy recommendations to judges playing the role of the Prime Minister's office. The competition aims to provide a better understanding of the technical, societal, and strategic implications of cyber security and conflict. I participated in the competition as part of the "Cyber Royale" team from Royal Holloway University.

As someone who was pursuing a master's degree in International Public Policy, cybersecurity was an unfamiliar topic to me. However, when my friend Zeinab Mohammed came across the competition on a Twitter post and encouraged me to participate, I began researching cybersecurity topics. Our team was composed of four international students with diverse cultural and educational backgrounds, which provided us with different perspectives and a mix of technical and non-technical knowledge.

At first, we divided ourselves into technical and non-technical subjects, but by the end of the competition, we were all contributing ideas beyond our realm of knowledge. This experience taught me how to challenge myself, go beyond my comfort zone, apply my soft skills, and think like a decision maker.

The scenario for the competition was centered around threats to critical transportation networks and the rise of new forms of threat actors dedicated to wage the world's first climate change cyber war, in line with the climate change conference hosted in Glasgow. Despite the intense competition, my team was thrilled to reach the finals and be awarded third place. This experience has greatly impacted my life and career perspective, leading me to find a job in cybersecurity and work towards achieving my goals. I am grateful to everyone who contributed to this competition, particularly my friend Zeinab Mohammed for introducing me to the competition and encouraging me to participate.

Emna headshot
Emna headshot

Emna Haddouk. 2022 competitor and now member of the organising team.