President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition


2022 President's Cup Competition Banner. #PRESCUP

Don’t miss this unique training opportunity. Register now!

Cyber threats across the globe have put into focus our country’s need for cyber talent. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) leads and hosts the President’s Cup to identify, recognize, and reward the best cyber talent across the federal workforce. While the competition has a fictional storyline, the challenges are based on real-world situations from across the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) framework to expand cyber skills through fun and creative tests. 

In 2021, the President’s Cup participants defeated the Arellians, aliens who tried to take over Earth and harvest our oranges. While making sure our oranges stay safe makes for a fun, interesting way to test cyber talent and expertise, in the real world, cybersecurity and resilience is a necessity for our critical infrastructure, networks, and high-value assets.

This year, participants will have to outthink and outwit their competitors as they explore deep space to find the three crystals needed to rebuild the President’s Cup and protect Earth.

President's Cup Cybersecurity Competition Registration Button and Link

President's Cup Timeline

The fourth annual President's Cup Cybersecurity Competition launches in August with registration and concludes with Finals in December.

2022 President's Cup Competition Timeline. Teams Registration August 8-29. Round 1 August 22-29. Round 2 September 26-October 3. Finals December 7-8. Individuals Registration August 8-September 13. (Both Tracks) Round 1 September 6-13. Round 2 October 17-24. Finals December 5-6.

Registration

Registration is now open! 

To register for the 2022 President's Cup Cybersecurity Competition, visit Presidentscup.cisa.gov

Registration runs August 8–29 for the Teams Competition and August 8 –September 13 for the Individuals Competition. 

Participation in the President’s Cup is limited to employees of the United States Federal Government . 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. Teams can be made from individuals from one or more Departments or Agencies. 

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

Register now at Presidentscup.cisa.gov.
 

Learn by Playing Previous President’s Cup Challenges 

Beyond the competition, previous President’s Cup challenges are available at no-cost for those interested in testing and honing their cyber skills. 

Federal employees can visit the President’s Cup Archive Site to take on challenges from previous President’s Cup Competitions.

Everyone can visit the President’s Cup GitHub page to find source code, challenge descriptions and walkthrough guides for the challenges that were in the 2020 and 2021 President's Cup. These materials are free and may be modified to meet your needs.
 

Qualifying President's Cup as Training

President’s Cup participants will practice and develop cyber skillsets required to keep them proficient, vigilant, and innovative so they can expertly accomplish the mission of their respective Department or Agency. Competitors participate, with appropriate supervisorial approval, during work or duty hours. CISA encourages participating Departments and Agencies to qualify the preparation for, as well as participation in, the President’s Cup as “Advanced Technical Training” for their workforce.  

Each competitor is encouraged to incorporate their participation into their Individual Development Plans and/or Performance Plans. If your Department or Agency allows, CISA provides suggested draft language (.pdf, 116KB).

Federal employees can also hone their cyber skills by taking on challenges from previous President’s Cup Competitions on our Archive Site. Solution guides for these challenges are available on the GitHub page

The Competition

Tracks:
President’s Cup has two tracks and participants can choose to compete in one or both:  

  • Individuals: enroll as an individual and compete in one or both of two tracks: offensive and defensive.  

  • Teams: enroll in groups of two to five from across the government and take on tasks drawn from eight in-demand work roles.

Rounds: 
President’s Cup has three rounds between August and December. The first two will take place virtually and participants only need internet access and a web browser to compete. The finals will be held in person at CISA’s Arlington, Va., facility as conditions allow.  

  • Round 1: Open to the entire federal workforce 

  • Round 2: The top 100 scores from each track and teams in round 1 

  • Finals: The top 10 individuals from each track and top 5 teams from round 2 

Session Timer:

In the first two rounds, participants have eight days to start their timers and complete as many challenges as possible. The timer starts when the first challenge is launched and cannot be paused. The timer has limited time to compete for the tracks: 

  • Individuals: Four hours 

  • Teams: Eight hours

Work Roles

The 2022 President’s Cup challenges are mapped to Tasks and Work Roles from the NICE Framework and categories listed in Executive Order 13870. These Work Roles are listed below.

Individual Competition:

2022 President’s Cup Individual Competition. There are two tracks available within the Individuals competition. Individuals can choose to participate in one or both tracks based on their interest. Primary Track A Cyber Defense Incident Responder and Cyber Defense Forensics Analyst. Secondary Track A Network Operations Specialist and Cyber Defense Analyst. Secondary Track A Network Operations Specialist and Cyber Defense Analyst. Primary Track B Exploitation Analyst and Cyber Operator. Secondary Track B Research and Development Specialist and Vulnerability Assessment Analyst.

Teams Competition:

2022 President's Cup Teams Competition. The 2022 President's Cup Team Competition will consist of tasks drawn from the following eight in-demand NICE Framework roles: Cyber Defense Incident Responder, Cyber Defense Forensics Analyst, Network Operations Specialist, Cyber Defense Analyst, Exploitation Analyst, Vulnerability Assessment Analyst, Data Analyst, and Threat/Warning Analyst.

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 at PresidentsCup@cisa.dhs.gov.  

Who can participate?  
President’s Cup is open to federal employees from the executive departments and agencies, including uniformed services. Current job function does not need to be focused on cybersecurity. Contractors are not eligible to participate.  

How do I sign up? 
Registration for President’s Cup 2022 opens August 8, 2022 and runs through the end of the first round. To sign up, visit this webpage under the registration section and make sure to use a “.gov” or “.mil” email address. 

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. 

Will we be able to access the Internet in the challenge environments?

No. The required tools to solve a challenge will be included in the challenge environment. Internet connectivity is removed to keep the integrity of the competition and ensure there is a level playing field for all participants. Mirrors of standard application repositories (e.g., Apt, Yum, and Pip) are provided for use inside of the challenge environment to install additional tools on the provided virtual machines.

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

The 2022 Finals will be held on location at a CISA facility in Arlington, VA, if conditions allow. If held on location, agencies will be responsible for travel of their personnel if they qualify. 

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. 

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. 

When does registration for the competition start? 

Registration starts August 8, 2022. Team registration is open from August 8 – 29. Individual registration is open from August 8 through September 13. Please note that registration is still open through the end of Qualifying Round 1.   

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

The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS) has an overview of the Workforce Framework for Cybersecurity (NICE Framework). This video, NICE Framework 101, is a more detailed introduction to the NICE Framework website. See also our supporting materials below. 

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. 

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. 

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

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

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

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

 

President’s Cup Supporting Materials

During President’s Cup, the following resources are available to CISA partners to promote the competition to their constituencies. These materials are free and may be modified to meet your needs. 

If you are participating in the competition, review the supporting materials and resources below to help prepare for the President’s Cup. Many of these resources are referenced in the planning stages of the President’s Cup timeline. 

  • Executive Order 13870, “Executive Order on America’s Cybersecurity Workforce” 

  • Executive Order 13800, “Presidential Executive Order on Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure” 

Everyone can visit the President’s Cup GitHub page to find source code, challenge descriptions and walkthrough guides for the challenges that were in the 2020 and 2021 President's Cup. 

Previous President's Cup Coverage

2021 President’s Cup: 

The third annual President’s Cup ran from August 2021 to December 2021. The Team Competition consisted of challenges drawn from the following eight in-demand NICE Framework work roles: Cyber Defense Incident Responder, Cyber Defense Forensics Analyst, Cyber Defense Infrastructure Support Specialist, Cyber Defense Analyst, Exploitation Analyst, Vulnerability Analyst, Software Developer and Threat/Warning Analyst. There were two tracks available within the Individuals competition. Individuals could participate in one or both tracks based on their interest.  There were nearly 2,000 federal employees competing in the 2021 President’s Cup Competition, with over 900 of those taking part in the individuals tracks. The number of teams has increased each year of the competition, with 308 teams total in 2021. The Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice brought the largest number of competitors, while there was representation from at least 15 federal government agencies. 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.   

  • List of 2021 President's Cup Finals Winners Coming Soon! 

2020 President's Cup: 

The second annual President's Cup Cybersecurity Competition ran from August 2020 to February 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 exploitation 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 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.  

 

Contact Information

For general information, contact us at: PresidentsCup@cisa.dhs.gov.

For registration and competition information, contact us at: prescup-support@sei.cmu.edu

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