ASU Cybersecurity Student Challenge

Arizona State University hosts

Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions
Global Security Initiative
Center for Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Center on the Future of War
Center for Law, Science & Innovation
Public Service Academy

Important Dates

Now – Oct 21, 2017  Registration period (Students must register as individuals but must be a member of a four-person team; three-person teams may be considered).

September 7, 2017: Info session for interested competitors.  Click here to view the info session video.

October 19, 2017:
  Teams receive “Intelligence Report I,” and start preparing their policy papers.

October 21, 2017: Team Orientation - registered competitors will meet with coaches and work on competition materials. 

November 17, 2017:  Live competition begins.

March 2018:  ASU grand prize winners will compete at the Atlantic Council national competition in Washington, D.C.

A major cyberattack has occurred. How should your nation respond?

We frequently hear the terms “Cyber 9/11” and “Digital Pearl Harbor,” but what should policymakers do the day after a crisis? The Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge is an annual event designed to give elite students an opportunity to compete in developing national security policy recommendations based upon a fictional cyber catastrophe.

In association with the Atlantic Council, Arizona State University is hosting, for the first time, a campus-based cyber policy competition modeled after the Atlantic Council’s Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge in Washington D.C.

What is it?

Now entering its fifth year, the ASU Cybersecurity Student Challenge is a one-of-a-kind competition designed to provide students interested in cybersecurity with a deeper understanding of the policy challenges associated with cyber crises and conflict. Part interactive learning experience and part competitive exercise, it challenges teams to respond to a realistic, evolving cyber attack and analyze the threat it poses to national, international, and private sector interests.

Playing the role of National Security Council staff, students are confronted with a fictional cyber crisis. First, each team is asked to prepare a written policy response to the crisis. After the policy papers are submitted and graded, the teams gather on the first day of live competition and brief their policy proposals to a panel of judges. The brief is limited to ten minutes with a ten minute period for judges' questions. Judges also provide feedback on the team's performance. Teams advancing to the second round will be announced on Friday, along with individual awards. Advancing teams will be given "Intelligence Report II" which accelerates the crisis.        

The second round begins Saturday morning and each surviving team will brief its modified policy proposal to another panel of judges. The winning team will go on to represent ASU at the competition in Washington D.C.

Can I get involved?


Currently enrolled students from any accredited university may apply - not just ASU students.  Students may be undergraduate or masters degree seekers.  Registration will be open before Sept 7.  Students may register as a team of 4 or as a single competitor and be matched with other competitors.  Email Nicole Thomas at for more information.

Registration is now LIVE:

Want to learn more? Click here to watch the info session video and learn more about the competition from Dr. Brian Gerber:

Click here to watch the team orientation video:

Coaches & Judges

We are looking for cyber security professionals to serve as coaches for teams in the competition and as judges on competition days.  Experience in emergency management and public speaking preferred.  Email Nicole Thomas at for more information.


Sponsorship opportunities are available.  Contact Andrea Ramirez at for more info.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What if I don’t have a team?

Some students will be able to form a 3 or 4 person team.  Others might have an interest in competing – but have yet to find other teammates. If you don’t have a team, and would like assistance in locating others to form a team, please contact Nicole Thomas at for further assistance in finding other students also interesting in forming a team.

Can I attend if I am not a competitor?

For students who are not able to compete in this event, but are interested in cybersecurity and related issues,  the best opportunity to meet others and learn about careers in this field will be to attend a career discussion session on the first day of the competition (Friday, Nov 17). Please check this website for additional details about the career event associated with the competition.

Are the competition’s oral briefing presentations open to public?

The central focus of the 2-day competition are oral briefings made by each team. Those briefings are closed. Only the team, their coach, and judges are permitted to attend the oral presentations that are part of the competition.

Can you earn credits or a certificate from the competition?

No, this is purely an extracurricular activity. Although, this experience will provide opportunities for students to gain experience and enjoy networking opportunities with subject area experts, no credit hours are conferred.

Do we provide lodging for out of state students?

Those students traveling to Phoenix for the competition should make their own travel and lodging accommodations. However, those students should contact Nicole Thomas at for additional information about lodging options.

What if I graduate in the fall, can I still compete?

Yes, you can compete in the ASU Cyber 9/12 Challenge. However, the national competition hosted by the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. only permits currently-enrolled students. Thus, a student graduating in December would not be able to compete in spring 2018 national challenge event. However, a team member who loses that eligibility can be replaced – should that team be selected as a competition winner.

Does my team have to have a coach?  What does a coach do? How do I find a coach?  And who can my team chose as a coach?

Using a coach is recommended, but not required. A coach is simply an individual who provides guidance and feedback to teams as they prepare for the cyber 9/12 challenge and as they compete during the event. Judges are permitted to observe teams as they make their briefing presentations and can offer guidance if a team advances to the next round. Coaches do not do any research or writing for the teams – they simply offer their expertise and assist the preparation. Students might approach an ASU faculty member or other subject area experts outside the university to serve as the team’s coach. There are not really any precise restrictions; if a team feels a person can assist in their preparation, the team can invite that person. If you don’t have a coach, you can contact Nicole Thomas the Admin Assistant at for further assistance on finding one.

If I am competing do I need to stay the whole day?

You do not have to stay the whole day but it is recommended because there will be lunch provided along with networking opportunities and speakers. The lunch break on competition day one will feature industry speakers and there will be a “mini” career fair that afternoon (Friday, Nov. 17). The lunch break on the second day of the competition will also feature speakers on professional development and career opportunities.

To clarify, is the entire event held at the downtown campus?

Yes, the start and conclusion of each day will be in the Concho room in the Westward Ho building on the northwest corner of Fillmore and Central Ave. Most of the oral briefing portion of the competition will take place in the ASU Post Office building, which is located across the street, on the southwest corner of that same intersection.

The teams presenting will take place in the ASU post office building, across the street on the southwest corner of Central and Fillmore.

What if I competed last year, can I compete this year?

Yes, so long as your team was not the first or second place finisher at last year’s competition.