03 June 2024

Scottish students challenged to take on major cyberattack scenario

Students from cyber, business, criminology, law and politics to take on resilience challenge

Three students standing over a desk

Scottish students will be challenged to navigate all aspects of a major cyberattack scenario when a national competition returns later this year.

The annual Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge 2024 will be hosted by Abertay University in partnership with the Scottish Government, Dewar Cyber Consulting and the Atlantic Council, a foreign policy think tank based in Washington, DC.  

University and college students from across the key disciplines of cybersecurity, business, criminology, law and politics will take on the role of senior advisors as they are challenged to lead on decision making and crisis management in the critical hours following a cyber breach.

The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge is designed to provide students with experience of what it takes to manage high pressure decision making and the trade-offs that have to be made quickly and effectively to keep an organisation running during a cyber crisis. 

Working as a team, each of the students will bring their own views and expertise to the table as the evolving scenario is analysed from a legal, business, political, sociological and information security standpoint.

Over the course of the competition they will be asked to conduct situational analysis and provide recommendations on the best course of action to mitigate the crisis. 

Since its establishment in Washington, DC in 2012, the competition has expanded across the US and runs in London, Dundee, Geneva, Paris, San Jose, Tashkent, and Cape Town.

The call for participants in the Dundee challenge launches today (Monday 3 June) with the online event to take place on 13 and 14 November 2024, coordinated Dr Rob Dewar of Dewar Cyber Consulting and staff from Abertay University and the Atlantic Council.

Senior cybersecurity professionals from the Scottish Government, ScotlandIS, Cyber and Fraud Centre Scotland, Google and the Swiss Cyber Forum will be among the judging panels charged with deciding on the winning team.

The Scottish Government’s Minister for Higher and Further Education, Graeme Dey said: “Our lives are becoming increasingly digitised which can bring enormous benefits, but can also bring risks. We need to have experts from across disciplines to ensure the cyber resilience of our country. The Scottish Cyber 9/12 competition gives the opportunity to students, the next generation of cyber leaders, to take part in an authentic cyber scenario. The Scottish Government is delighted to continue to support this important annual event.”

Prof Lynne Coventry, Director of Abertay cyberQuarter said: “The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge is now in its third year and we are looking forward to welcoming the new cohort of participants. The competition is open to all colleges and universities across Scotland and we want to attract not just those studying cybersecurity, but students from other relevant disciplines like business, criminology, law and politics. It’s hugely important that we keep promoting all aspects of cybersecurity as a career and investing in making Scotland’s organisations and businesses more resilient.”

Safa Shahwan Edwards of the Atlantic Council said: “The Scottish edition of the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge is a great opportunity for colleges and university students. Learning the importance of working in an interdisciplinary team is essential in a crisis scenario and helps build the skillsets required for a career in cybersecurity. We are pleased to be partnering with Dewar Cyber Consulting, Abertay University and the Scottish Government to bring this one-of-a-kind learning opportunity back for another year.”

Rob Dewar of Dewar Cyber Consulting said: “Cybersecurity is everyone’s problem and it’s really important that we take steps to bring through the next generation of talent required to effectively navigate all aspects of an attack, and not just the technical or digital challenges. The last two years have shown that students bring a completely fresh perspective to how a crisis situation should be effectively managed and it’s very often those with no experience of cybersecurity who are first to identify the key risks and best approaches.”

Sign up for the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge.


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