November 10, 2017

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NYC Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge
NYC Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge

The SIPA Digital & Cyber Group (DCG), a student organization, hosted the second annual NYC Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge at IAB on November 3 and 4. The cyber policy competition was sponsored by SIPA and the Atlantic Council, which originated the inaugural 9/12 Student Challenge last year.

The Cyber 9/12 event, which has been described as a combination of a case competition and a hackathon, convened students with backgrounds in policy, law, and computer science. Participants responded to a series of (hypothetical) escalating cybersecurity scenarios with written policy recommendations and oral briefs to panels of esteemed judges. Teams came to New York from across the country, and represented schools including Tufts Fletcher, Toronto Munk, Georgetown SFS, NYU Law, the U.S. Military Academy, Texas A&M University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Princeton. Teams representing various Columbia graduate programs also took part.

This year, the competition relied on more than 30 judges (including several SIPA alumni) from organizations such as Google, the Council on Foreign Relations, IBM, Morgan Stanley, Army Cyber Institute, FlashPoint, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Foreign Affairs, 21st Century Fox, among others.

Between competition rounds, students and judges enjoyed the opportunity to hear from multiple speakers. The chief technology officer of the city of Seattle and the chief information security officer for New York City gave keynotes, while guests from Citi, Google Jigsaw, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley joined panel discussions. Executives from IBM and FlashPoint gave technology demonstrations on blockchain and vulnerabilities. A Friday night reception for participants and judges featured speeches from Bank of America's managing director of global cybersecurity and American University's program director for U.S. foreign policy and national security.

Three Columbia teams were among the eight that advanced to semifinal competition on Saturday. After another round of cuts, the final round featured a lightning round of presentation, inquiry, and an intelligence briefing. The team from Georgetown's School of Foreign Service earned top honors, with Columbia University coming in second, NYU Law third, and the U.S. Military Academy fourth.

In his closing remarks, Senior Research Scholar Jason Healey praised the world of think tanks for providing such a practical competition for students, and encouraged schools to send teams to the upcoming Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge in Washington, D.C.