C3SA has joined forces with the Atlantic Council Cyber Statecraft Initiative to host the inaugural Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge in South Africa. The Competition is a pilot program, modelled off the traditional Cyber 9/12 Competition format, but adapted to include two rounds held over the course of two afternoons. The Competition will provide a platform for next-generation African talents to engage and exchange ideas on cybersecurity policy solutions, developed in response to a cybersecurity incident simulation exercise. The Competition meets the National objectives of developing cybersecurity policy skills in national cybersecurity workforces. The development of such skills in graduate and undergraduate students is a major objective of the Atlantic Council’s Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge as well as C3SA.
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is home to more than a billion strong, young, and dynamic people. It is a space where most people have some knowledge of the new technologies and the cyberspace that they enable. They know how to use them to connect to friends and family, to have fun, to study, to work and to look for opportunities. Nevertheless, the cyber landscape of sub-Saharan Africa is still in its infancy, with an infrastructure still in the process of being developed, unclear cybersecurity strategies, poor cybersecurity regulations and standards, poor cybersecurity awareness and education, and questionable cybersecurity mindsets. These are vulnerabilities at the level of a country or a region. They suggest that individual computer and Internet users are particularly exposed to cyber threats and risks.
Earlier this year, the Cybersecurity Capacity Centre for Southern Africa (C3SA) was invited to participate in the 2021 Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, organised by the Atlantic Council team in Washington, DC, which took place virtually due to travel restrictions enforced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Intrigued by the opportunity of being mentored by international cybersecurity experts on how to identify a policy response to a major cyber attack, we set up a team, consisting of two PhD students specialising is cybersecurity and a Master’s student who is a web developer from the University of Cape Town under the guidance of a Postdoc and senior researcher at C3SA, and we registered to participate. This was the first time a team from Africa participated in the competition, which is held annually.