Four LINCS PhD students - Konstantin Macher, Mark Williams, Matt O'Neill and Jamie Day - represented Queen's University Belfast in the UK's first interdisciplinary Cyber 9/12 Cyber Policy and Strategy Competition at the BT Tower in London.
Now in its sixth year, The Atlantic Council Cyber 9/12 annual competitions give students from across the world the opportunity to engage with expert mentors and high-level cyber professionals. Cyber 9/12 is supported by the UK Government, key industry sponsors, the Atlantic Council and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).
The Strongest LINC team joined 14 other teams from Universities across the UK and teams from the Ministry of Defence and Law Enforcement in London on 26 and 27 February 2018 to address technical and strategic policy challenges associated with cyber security, cyber crisis and conflict through the scenario of an escalating cyber attack against the UK. The teams had to understand and consider the issues and develop solutions and recommendations for each scenario. They had to make presentations on their technical, policy and strategic options to a judging panel of government and industry leaders in cyber security. Teams were questioned and their performance scored to select the top three teams who would then compete for the £2000 prize through a cyber crisis simulation scenario.
Whilst The Strongest LINC team did not make it through to the final round they were given great feedback and commended on their teamwork as well as being bold in their policy outlook and decision-making.
Jamie Day enjoyed the competition, saying, “The event gave us the opportunity to showcase the importance of policy when presented with a cyber crisis situation. It also provided us with the chance to network with other academics and organisations in the technology sector”.
For Matt O’Neill the competition “reinforced the need to balance technological expertise with a strategic and dynamic policy which can meet the challenges of our contemporary world. This is a difficult task but we are having the conversation through our interdisciplinary LINCS research programme".
Konstantin Macher noted, "The competition was a valuable opportunity to apply knowledge from theoretical research in a real-world crisis simulation and showed how important it is to effectively communicate your ideas".
Mark Williams reflected, “It was refreshing to see government and industry highlighting the need for an interdisciplinary response to cyber security. Technology alone cannot address cyber threats to businesses and governments - input from other disciplines is essential. The competition also provided me with an opportunity to engage with students from other Universities and with industry leaders. The careers fair opened my eyes to a wealth of employment opportunities that I hadn't previously contemplated”.
Our team may not have progressed to the final but they left the Cyber 9/12 Competition with stronger communication skills, effective networking and bridging skills gaps through increased knowledge and understanding of cyber security, crisis and conflict. They did us proud!
The Leverhulme Interdisciplinary Network on Cybersecurity and Society (LINCS) was established at Queen’s University Belfast in 2015. It builds on the existing interdisciplinary work between the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) in the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EEECS) and the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice.