Students & Campus
31 May 2021

IHEID and Seek: Students Find Success at Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

A team of three master candidates won “Best Decision Document” after competing against 23 university teams in the 2021 Cyber 9/12 Challenge, an annual global competition organised by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and the Atlantic Council, held from 11-12 May. 

In this cyber policy competition, students compete to develop national security policy recommendations to tackle a fictional cyber incident. For the Geneva round, this year’s teams were tasked with finding solutions to a fictional cyber attack on a European healthcare system. 

For the competition, team “IHEID and Seek”, composed of Shimona Mohan, Yamini Sharma and David Wistocki (all pursuing a Master in International Affairs), made an oral presentation supplemented by a concise decision document to a highly-qualified and professionally diverse panel of judges. 

“Following our presentation, the judges commended us on the easily digestible design and the color-coded format of our decision document”, explained the team. “This perspective was ultimately shared by the Challenge’s coordinating team who graced us with the award for best decision document”.
The Graduate Institute team was led under the guidance of Michael Kende, Visiting Lecturer in the Interdisciplinary Programmes. 

“I first learned about the competition several years ago when a group of students asked me to coach them”, he said. For him, the competition has many benefits, as it “provides a real-world simulation of a cyber event, and requires the students to assess what has happened and provide a policy response – not just on how to address the attack itself, but also on the geopolitics of such attacks (depending on the cause), and other related policy issues”. In addition, he noted the importance of understanding how to address cyberattacks, “given that more and more of our lives are going online”.

Although the competition was intense the students were grateful for the experience, and echoed each other in their appreciation for the support and guidance of their mentor and teacher, Michael Kende. 

Learn more about the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge