President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition


Teams Qualifying Round 1 began on September 13, 2021 but registration for the 2021 President's Cup is still open for Teams and Individuals! Register via the link below. Also check out the 2021 fact sheet and video below. 

President's Cup Yookie

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Established in 2019, the President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition is a national cyber event aiming to identify, challenge, and reward the best cybersecurity talent in the federal workforce. Held annually, the President’s Cup consists of individual and team challenges focusing on areas across the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Workforce Framework for Cybersecurity (NICE Framework)

Competitors will face an array of challenges that require an extensive skill set to complete. The President’s Cup was created in response to Executive Order 13870: America’s Cybersecurity Workforce

President’s Cup Timeline

The third annual President's Cup Cybersecurity Competition launched this fall Shall we compete?  

2021 Timeline

Registration

Registration is open for the 2021 President's Cup Cybersecurity Competition. Competitors can register for the Teams competition through the end of the Teams Qualifying Round 1 on September 20, 2021. Competitors can register for the Individual tracks through the end of the Individual Qualifying Round 1 on October 4, 2021. 

Participation in the President’s Cup is limited to employees of the United States Federal Government executive departments and agencies. This includes Federal employees and uniformed services personnel from Federal civilian agencies, as well as Department of Defense active duty military personnel, civilians, and those serving in a drilling reserve capacity in the Armed Forces Reserves or National Guard. Government contractors are not permitted to participate.

Participants can compete as an individual, on a team of up to five members, or both as an individual and a member of a team. All team members must belong to the same Government department or uniformed service.

Participants must register using a “.gov/.mil” email address.

 

President's Cup Yookie

Ready to compete?
Register Here

Competition Details

The competition consists of three rounds, each increasingly difficult. The challenges are real-world scenarios where participants will apply technical skills to solve a problem or complete a task. Challenges are mapped to Tasks and Work Roles from the NICE Framework and categories listed in Executive Order 13870.

Both individuals and teams compete in each of the three rounds. This year, there are two tracks available within the Individuals competition. Individuals can choose to participate in one or both tracks based on their interest.

President's Cup 2021 Individual   President's Cup 2021 Team

Qualifying Round 1 is open to all participants -- Those who succeed will be invited to compete in the next round. Qualifying Round 2 will downsize the number of competitors through increasingly difficult challenges. The top five teams and ten individuals in each track will compete in the Finals.

Please see below for information about the three rounds:

Qualifying Round 1: Teams

  • Teams access remotely via supported web browser.
  • The top team from each Department, as well as top 20% of Teams overall by score, are invited to compete in Qualifying Round 2
  • Teams will have 8 hours to solve as many challenges as they can.

Qualifying Round 1: Individuals

  • Individuals access remotely via supported web browser.
  • Top 100 scores in each track advance to Qualifying Round 2. There are no tie-breakers; all tied for 100th place will be invited to continue.
  • Both tracks qualifiers to be held simultaneously – competitors can participate in either or both.
  • Individuals will have 4 hours per track to solve as many challenges as they can.

Qualifying Round 2: Teams

  • Same team members as Qualifying Round 1 – access remotely via supported web browser
  • Higher points and harder challenges.
  • Top scores determine the five teams who advance to the Finals. 
  • Teams will have 8 hours to solve as many challenges as they can.

Qualifying Round 2: Individuals

  • Individuals access remotely via supported web browser.
  • Higher points and harder challenges.
  • Top scores determine the 10 individuals from each track who advance to the Finals.
  • Both tracks qualifiers to be held simultaneously – competitors can participate in either or both, if invited to Round 2.
  • Individuals will have 4 hours per track to solve as many challenges as they can.

Finals: Teams

  • Same team members as Qualifying Rounds 1 and 2.
  • Two-day event. If circumstances allow, the Finals will be held in Arlington, Virginia. Teams will be informed whether Finals will be held in-person or remotely at least one month prior to the Finals.
  • First day consists of challenges similar to qualifier rounds.
  • Second day consists of virtual scenario-based challenge, a unique twist on the 2019 “Escape Room” format. More details to come.
  • Cumulative score between both days determine the President’s Cup team first, second, and third place.

Finals: Individuals

  • One-day event for each track. If circumstances allow, the Finals will be held in Arlington, Virginia. Individuals will be informed whether Finals will be held in-person or remotely at least one month prior to the Finals.
  • Challenge-based format similar to qualifier rounds.
  • First, second and third place individual winners determined by final leaderboard scores.
  • There will be separate Finals round for Individuals Track A and Individuals Track B.

Incentives and Awards

Information about the 2021 President's Cup Cybersecurity Competition awards will be posted here later this year. It is encouraged that Departments and Agencies with Teams and/or Individuals competing in the 2021 competition consider providing awards to their participants.

Contact Information

To ask a question on the President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition, contact us at: PresidentsCup@cisa.dhs.gov. Contact details for technical support can be found on the registration site.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below you will find some commonly asked questions and answers to help you with the President’s Cup. If you can’t find the answer here, please contact us directly. 

1. Will I need any special software or applications to participate in the President’s Cup?

No. All that is needed for the first two qualification rounds is a modern web browser and your registered account. Supported browsers are: Chrome, Firefox and Edge.

2. I saw that the Finals are an in-person, two-day event. Where are the Finals held?

Determination will be made in the coming months if the 2021 Finals will be held on location at a CISA facility in Arlington, VA. If held on location, agencies will be responsible for travel of their personnel if they qualify.

3. My agency wants to enter two teams in Round 1. Is that possible?

Yes. A department or agency can enter more than one team in the competition.

4. One of my team members dropped out after Round 1. Can I replace them with someone else for Round 2?

No. Once a team is established, members cannot be added. You have the option to compete without that team member.

5. When does registration for the competition start?

Registration starts August 30, 2021. Teams registration is open from August 30 through September 20. Individual registration is open from August 30 through October 4. Please note that registration is still open through the end of Qualifying Round 1.  

6. It is mentioned that the competition challenges will be mapped to the NICE Framework. Where can I get more information on the NICE Framework?

This one-page overview is a good place to start. This video, NICE Framework 101, is a more detailed introduction to the NICE Framework website. See also our supporting materials below.

7. I’m eligible to participate in the President’s Cup, but I don’t have a team. Can I participate as an individual?

Yes. See Competition Details above. Participants can compete either as part of a team, as an individual, or both. Qualifying Round 1 is open to any and all Federal Executive Branch cybersecurity professionals.

8. I’m a detailee and I want to participate. Which organization do I participate with – my original agency or my detailed agency? 

Detailees to a specific agency can participate on a team for their detailed agency or their home agency subject to the approval of both their home agency and detail supervisor, including agreement on which agency will be responsible for travel and awards.

9. Can I participate on more than one team at a time?

No. You can only be a team member on one team.

10. I’m a government contractor and I want to participate. Am I eligible?

No. Government contractors cannot participate in the President's Cup.

11. What happened with monetary awards for the 2020 competition? 

CISA continues to work with the Departments and Agencies of all our winners from the 2020 competition to get them recognition and awards per the President's Cup structure. 

12. Will there be a monetary award if we win in the 2021 competition? 

Under existing authorities, each Department and Agency is responsible for providing monetary and non-monetary awards to their participants in 2021. CISA will update this FAQ should that change. 

13. Will there be any physical trophy or honorary recognition for winning in the 2021 competition? 

CISA will give the winning individuals a physical trophy in recognition for their accomplishment. 

The names of competition winners will also be added to the decorative President's Cup Official Trophy displayed within CISA headquarters.

President’s Cup Supporting Materials

Review the supporting materials and resources below to help prepare for the President’s Cup. Many of these resources are mentioned above and were referenced in the planning stages of the President’s Cup timeline.

Previous President's Cup Coverage

2020 President's Cup

The second annual President's Cup Cybersecurity Competition ran from August 2020 to February 25, 2021. The competition was split into a teams track and two individual tracks, one focused on incident response and forensic analysis and the other focused on vulnerability exploration analysis. Over 1,400 participants and nearly 250 teams competed in the 2020 competition. Held virtually, the finals featured the top 10 competitors from each individual track and the top five teams. In the Finals the teams competed in two rounds held on separate days. During the first day of Finals, teams were matched against a variety of challenges in a Capture the Flag format. On the second day teams faced a "Save the World" scenario in a virtual environment built just for this year's competition. The cumulative score over the two days determined the winning team. The second day of the teams competition was broadcast live and the video is available below.  

2019 President's Cup

The first annual President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition ran from September to December 13, 2019 and drew more than 1,000 individuals and 200 teams. After two Qualifying rounds, 10 individual finalists and five team finalists came to the Washington, D.C. area for the final round at the CISA Cybersecurity Lab.  The President’s Cup is designed to highlight the extraordinary cybersecurity talent in the federal government, and to promote careers in the field.  

The five teams were given a series of challenges to solve on the first day, followed by a virtual escape room on the second day, with the winner determined by a combined score from the two days.  The winning team consisted of Major Josh Rykowski, U.S. Army Cyber Command; Chief Warrant Officer Phillip Smith, U.S. Army 781st Military Intelligence Brigade; Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin Koontz, U.S. Army, Defense Information Systems Agency; Sergeant First Class Zachary McElroy, U.S. Army Cyber Protection Brigade; and Staff Sergeant Matthew Cundari, U.S. Army Cyber Protection Brigade. 

Individuals were given ten challenges to solve over an eight-hour period, testing different technical and security skills.  Sears Schulz, a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, finished first in the individual competition, solving four challenges.  Cadet Schulz is a senior at the Academy and hopes to attend graduate school to study cybersecurity. 

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