My Experience of the UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

Alex Blinda takes us on a journey from competing in the competition as a student to joining the organising team.


Alex Blinda

2/18/20202 min read

I first took part in the competition when I was a Computer Science student back in 2018. Coming from a computer science background, I had a narrow understanding of what cyber security is outside of technology. I had no contact or experience in cyber policy or strategy. The UK Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge completely changed my view of cyber security starting with the registration phase when I found out how diverse my team was. Every team member was studying for a completely different degree: Politics, Economy, Computer Science and even Chemistry.

I find it quite hard to describe what it feels like to take part in the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge. Close your eyes and imagine your country slowly slides into an ongoing cyber crisis. Furthermore, imagine it is your team’s job to advise some of the most important people in the government on the best course of action in order to avert the worst-case outcomes. The scenarios rapidly and unexpectedly evolve between the phases until the climax is reached in the 3rd phase. Cyber 9/12 takes you through a rollercoaster of emotions, from adrenaline to potential moments of despair, due to the well-thought structure of the competition, the unbelievably realistic scenarios and the incredible judges, whose day job is to do this for real!

Alex Blinda. Threat Hunt Cyber Security Analyst.

If this sounds exciting or the very thought of it gives you goose bumps, your team should apply as soon as possible! And if not, come along and give it a try – I promise you will have an amazing time. I had so much fun that I decided to compete one more time in 2019 and learnt lots more about the cyber security industry. I can also say that Cyber 9/12 was a factor in my decision to further study cyber security and continue with a career in this field – I now work at Price Waterhouse Cooper where I advise companies how they can be better prepared for cyber incidents.

I have learned a lot from taking part in the competition but, for me, the most important thing was understanding that diversity is at the heart of a successful cyber security team. I wanted to help the Cyber 9/12 organising team in continuing to spread their message. I believe every student should have the chance to enjoy the competition and the plethora of lessons that it teaches. Keeping this thought in mind and looking for a challenge, I volunteered to be a part of the UK Cyber 9/12 2021 organising team where I am working in the scenario development team.

Judges asking a team questions about their briefing during the competition

The task of contributing to creating a realistic and challenging scenario that will keep both students and judges engaged has pushed me to the edge of my limits, thinking how I would respond to and deal with the issues were are putting in front of the students. I hope they enjoy it! As part of the organising team, I can certainly say that I am having fun while learning something new, once again as part of this fantastic competition.

I hope you will take the chance and sign up today!