Politics and International Relations students Nur Tekin, Leah Arlaud and Toby Hudson took part in the global Atlantic Council Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge in London last month. The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge is an annual cyber policy and strategy competition where students from across the globe compete in developing policy recommendations tackling a fictional cyber catastrophe.
Led by Gareth Mott, the team, which included Utkarsh Utkarsh (Computing) took part in the competition which is designed to provide students from across academic disciplines with a deeper understanding of the policy and strategy challenges associated with management of trade-offs during a cyber crisis.
Dr Gareth Mott, Team Coach: “It was absolutely fantastic to support our University of Kent Cyber 9/12 Challenge team for the 2023 competition. Having coached two previous teams in the 2021 and 2022 online versions, this year’s competition at the BT Tower was a treat for everyone involved. The organisers go out of their way to make the event a unique and challenging experience for the competing students, and the simulation really gets to the crux of the contemporary cyber crises that our interconnected societies could (and do) face, whether tomorrow, in one month’s time or in the coming years. Whilst we did not make it to the final stages of the competition, our team received high praise from the judging panel. I’m extremely proud of our team, including for all of their hard work in preparation for the competition and for handling the pressure on the day. Leah, Nur, Utkarsh and Toby – whether you dabble in cyber or delve into cyber for your career pathways, I’m confident you’ll excel. Well done.”
Nur Tekin, Team Member: “The competition was a challenging but ultimately incredible experience. In the months leading up to it, our team had to tackle various issues and use many skills such as effective communication, delegation, and problem solving. I’m thankful to our coach Gareth for making every effort to help us through this process. On the actual days of the competition, I had a chance to meet and connect with cyber security professionals from both the public and the private sector. This provided me with not only valuable insights into the latest trends and developments in the field, but also potential career opportunities. Although not making it to the final round was disappointing, the efforts made by our team were still recognised by the judges. I was also proud to represent my university and be supported in return. Overall, the Cyber 9/12 Challenge was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am thrilled to have participated.”
Leah Arlaud, Team Member: “The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge was a truly amazing experience. Even though the preparation took a lot of time and giving a presentation in front of the judges seemed scary at first, it was a very fun and inspiring experience. Even though we did not advance to the next round of the competition, I am very proud of our team’s achievements – particularly of our written policy brief which was explicitly praised. Thanks to our coach, we knew what to expect and how to prepare. Talking to different cybersecurity experts also showed me that my non-technical background does not prevent me from starting a career in this field, but that it can even be an advantage. I am also thankful for the financial support that we have received from the University of Kent for traveling and staying in London. It was really a special experience and I am glad I could be part of it!”
Whilst the team unfortunately did not win, they were unexpectedly the only student team to be invited out to a formal dinner at the FCDO building, just around the corner from Downing Street, where the Commander of the National Cyber Force gave a speech.
The team should be exceedingly proud of all the hard work they put into preparing for this highly competitive and rigorous event!