| by Emily Cipriani

News Stories

Brandon Arcari
Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge competitors Brandon Arcari NPTS ’23 and Libby Flatoff NPTS ’23.

A team of four students reached the semifinals of the Atlantic Council’s annual Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge.

This year’s competition was held virtually from March 25 to 26. The competition is held in multiple locations around the globe, with the Institute students competing in the Washington, D.C., division of the event. With a title referencing the day after 9/11, the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge tasks students with responding to an attack on critical cyber assets. In the qualifying round, the Institute team analyzed the national, international, and private-sector threats posed by a fictional scenario, created a policy brief, and presented their findings to a panel of judges.


Our MIIS team did an excellent job representing the school; I was impressed with their thoughtfulness, engagement in the material, and overall teamwork. They had a terrific showing, and I heard through the judges that the team truly was seen as contending against the top tier. I’m very proud of what they accomplished.
— Visiting Professor of Cybersecurity and Faculty Coach Geoff Brown

The Institute’s team, all from the Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies program, competed under the team name MIISAttribution. The team included Brandon Arcari NPTS ’23, Libby Flatoff NPTS ’23, Steven De La Fuente MANPTS ’22, and Justin Fulcher NPTS ’23. A team from American University placed first.

“Our team had a great experience in the competition,” said Arcari. “We were incredibly proud to have moved forward to the semifinal round, with the feedback we received from the judges being very encouraging as well. Our coach, Professor Geoff Brown, was an incredible resource due to his experience with both cybersecurity and government.”

De La Fuente agreed. “Professor Brown provided an immense amount of support and insight into how to present effective briefings and response recommendations during this simulated event.”

This was the first time Flatoff had participated in the competition, and she felt the team worked well together. “Not only did we learn a lot from one another, we also weren’t afraid to question each other’s recommendations or voice our opinions,” Flatoff said. “By the end, I learned so much about both the policy and technical sides of cyber, and we are all thrilled with our feedback and genuinely happy with how far we made it. I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience, coach, or team, and can’t wait to participate again next year!”

The Institute has a good track record in the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge. In 2019, the student team won second place, and in 2018 the team was awarded “Best Written Brief.”