The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge was founded by the Atlantic Council in 2012. Starting in Washington, DC, the competition has expanded its reach globally including in Geneva, Canberra and Cape Town.
The UK instalment of the competition began in 2018. We enjoyed three years of the competition being held in-person before the COVID pandemic struck. We held our 2021 and 2022 competitions virtually before returning to being back in-person for the 2023 event.
Over the last 6 years, we have had close to 50:50 male to female ratio in our competitors; unheard of in any other cyber security initiative. And we have had two years where all female teams have won.
This highlights that we are bringing a diverse pool of exceptional talent into cyber security field that can deliver at a high standard.
The UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge is designed to foster the cyber security leaders of the future; those individuals capable of thinking beyond just the technical by addressing the strategy and policy aspects of any cyber security challenge.
The competition generates blended learning, effective teamwork and communication skills, critical thinking and analysis and the complementary skill sets that are recognised as essential across all professions and industries that are involved in cyber security, yet often overlooked.
It also emphasises the value in the variety of skills required for a comprehensive approach and fosters innovation and effective working across diverse participants. The competition also provides opportunities for our sponsors and partners to connect with, inspire and recruit the next generation of cyber security leaders straight from university.
With full backing and participation from the UK government, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Cabinet Office, the Department for Work and Pensions and the NCSC and strategic partners on both sides of the Atlantic, the UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge is unique, influential and has helped drive the UK dialogue about the cyber security challenges that we face and how best we develop the talent needed for the future.
Foster the cyber security policy and strategy leaders of the future. Link them up with the organisations that match and value their skills.
Engage with a wide audience of senior government, business and academic stakeholders to widen and drive dialogue around the need for diverse cyber security skills.
Secure and build on the success of previous competitions to grow year-on-year.
The UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge is unique across the cyber security community. We are focused on building leaders of the future who can take a holistic approach to cyber security, working across multidisciplinary teams and bringing their experience from a diverse background.
We are proud of our efforts in ensuring the competition is open and accessible for all. However we aren’t stopping there. Beyond achieving parity amongst our competitors in terms of gender diversity, we are still seeking further ways to ensure we are as diverse as possible.
For 2024, we are keen to encourage further diversity. We are continuing our partnership with SEIDEA to facilitate greater awareness of the competition amongst Black & Asian communities. We are also working with neurodiversity organisations to help refine the Finals Event to ensure it is a fair playing field for all students.
Finally, we are seeking to ensure no student team is inhibited from attending due to costs. So, we created a Supporting Access Fund to cover the cost of some student competitors for attending an event in London.
Above all, our goal is to provide a immensely valuable interactive learning experience for students to gain experience in the strategic and policy aspects of dealing with a cyber crisis. We hope to become a pipeline for the next generation of cyber policy makers and build a community of multidisciplinary cyber security professionals.
The UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge has been supported by a range of fantastic partners and sponsors as well as from government. We attract support from the highest levels of government and Westminster through advocates such as Lords Robertson and Harris, Baroness Martha Lane Fox, DCMS Ministerial engagement, the NCSC, the Cabinet Office, FCDO and the MOD.
Since the inaugural competition in February 2018, we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from students who not only enjoyed the event but have also used the experience to secure their first cyber security role, given them confidence in the value of their skills and linked them up with equally passionate employers.