logo

President's Cup Cybersecurity Competition

Established in response to Executive Order 13870, the President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition is a national cyber competition aiming to identify, recognize, and reward the best cybersecurity talent in the federal executive workforce. Hosting challenges from across the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Cybersecurity Framework, competitors will face a diverse array of challenges and will require an extensive skill set to succeed.

Use the buttons below to enroll in the President's Cup.

logo
2021 Team Competition

Registration: Aug 30-Sep 20, 2021
Qualifying Round 1: Sep 13-20, 2021

Team Competition
2-5 Players
logo
2021 Individual Competition

Registration: Aug 30-Oct 4, 2021
Qualifying Round 1: Sep 27-Oct 4, 2021

Individual Track A
Incident Response/Forensics
Individual Track B
Exploitation/Vuln Assessment
logo
PCCC Practice Area

Practice demo challenges and content from past President's Cup competitions

2021 Practice
Gameboard
Open Source Challenges
GitHub
Walkthrough Videos
YouTube

As announced at:

cisa.gov/presidentscup

New for 2021

Welcome to the 2021 President's Cup Cybersecurity Competition! For those of you who competed last year—we're glad to have you back. For those of you who are competing for the first time in 2021—we're glad you joined us.

Here are the updates to this year's competition:

Gameboard Updates

The Gameboard app has been updated to provide more standardization across challenges. The changes include:

  • All challenge tracks (Team, Individual Track A, Individual Track B) are now available under the same Gameboard instance. You no longer need to navigate between separate apps for each track.
  • The competition map appears next to the challenge doc to make navigating between challenges faster.
  • Example answers are included alongside each answer submission form field.

Foundry Appliance

The platform used to host the President's Cup is now available as an open-source virtual appliance. If you're interested in hosting your own competition using the same software, you can download an OVA template.

Final Words

Please review all of the FAQs and videos before starting the competition, but pay particular attention to:

Thank you all for your participation and best of luck to you in the 2021 President's Cup!

Media

Videos

Images


Continuous Session Timer

Register/Enroll

2021 Teaser

2021 Desktop Background (Red)

2021 Desktop Background (Green)

2021 Desktop Background (Blue)

Competition Rules

Conduct

  1. Violation of the Rules of Conduct as outlined may result in disqualification from the competition.
  2. Enforcement of the Rules of Conduct is at the discretion of the Competition Staff.
  3. Competitors will conduct themselves in a manner that befits employees of the Federal government and members of the Uniformed Services in all aspects of the competition.
  4. When choosing team and individual nicknames, competitors will show decorum and refrain from any names that are vulgar or political in nature (In accordance with the Hatch Act). Names will go through an approval process before appearing on the leaderboard. Inappropriate language, references to political persons or parties, or otherwise inappropriate content will be asked to be changed. The competition aims to support morale building, esprit de corps, and friendly rivalries between military units, and government departments and agencies. The competition staff reserves the right to ask any team or individual to change their name and maintains final judgement on what is acceptable.
  5. Classified toolsets are not authorized for use. All challenges are designed to be solved using open source tools including those provided on the hosted virtual machines
  6. Any attempts at unauthorized access or “Denial of Service” attacks are forbidden and will result in disqualification. “Escaping” the virtual machines or otherwise tampering with or targeting the hosting environment is prohibited.
  7. Competitors will not disclose any information involving the challenges to anyone during the competition outside of their competition team.

Team Composition

  1. Participants can only be on one team and cannot change teams during the competition. Once a team is locked during registration, it can NOT be changed later in the competition.
  2. Teams of 2 to 5 members must be from the same federal Executive Branch department or agency. For example, a cross-service, joint Department of Defense team is permitted as well as a Department of Justice team comprised of members from FBI, DEA, and ATF.
  3. Detailees to an external department can represent their home or detailed department. For example, a member of the Coast Guard detailed to DoD's US Cyber Command can be on a DoD or a DHS team.
  4. Detailees should seek approval of both their home agency and detail supervisor, including agreement on which agency will be responsible for awards.
  5. Team members must be government civilian employees or military service members. Government contractors are NOT allowed to participate in the 2021 President's Cup.

Time and Challenge Submission Restrictions

  1. During the qualifying rounds, teams have 8 hours to complete as many challenges as they can. Individuals have 4 hours per track to solve as many challenges as they can.
  2. In the event of a tiebreaker, the "Cumulative Time" figure will be used to determine who moves on to the Final Round. The Cumulative Time is the total time spent in challenges successfully solved. This is calculated using a timer specific to each challenge on your game board. When you start a challenge, the timer starts. When you successfully solve a challenge, your score and cumulative time are updated.
  3. Correct answers will vary based on the challenge format and the questions being asked. Please refer to each challenge description which will clearly articulate the format of the answer.

Registration

  • Teams: Starts at 12:00 PM ET on August 30, 2021 and ends at 4:00 PM ET on September 20, 2021
  • Individuals: Starts at 12:00 PM ET on August 30, 2021 and ends at 4:00 PM ET on October 4, 2021
  • Participation in the President's Cup will be closed after these dates/times.

Support and Contact Information

To ask a question, report a problem, or provide other feedback on the President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition, send email to: prescup-support@sei.cmu.edu or call (412) 268-3054.

Please include as much detail as possible including the specific challenge title, challenge Support Code (found in the lower-right corner of the challenge pane), any system element(s) involved, and any error messages you may have received.

Hours of Operation

The President's Cup Cybersecurity Competition is open for participation 24/7 during registration and qualifying. Support during registration and qualifying is available:

  • Registration period – Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM ET
  • Qualifying rounds – 24x5 support starting Monday at 8:00 AM ET and ending Friday at 11:59 PM ET; Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM ET
  • Finals – support throughout Finals
  • Hours are Eastern Time

PLEASE NOTE: Support availability is limited on weekends during the competition; participants who choose to compete during this time do so at their own risk. Please make use of the demo challenges to ensure access and compatibility before competing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below you will find some commonly asked questions and answers to help you with 2021 President’s Cup. If you can’t find the answer here, please contact us.

  1. What does "Cumulative Time" mean on the leaderboard?
  2. I’m a government contractor and I want to participate. Am I eligible?
  3. Will I need any special software or applications to participate in the President’s Cup?
  4. How does each round’s continuous session timer work?
  5. Does my score carry over from one round to the next?
  6. How are ties handled?
  7. I saw that the Finals is an in-person, two-day event. Where are the Finals held?
  8. I heard about the President’s Cup too late to sign up. Will there be a President's Cup in 2022?
  9. My agency wants to enter two teams in Qualifying Round 1. Is that possible?
  10. One of my team members dropped out after Qualifying Round 1. Can I replace them with someone else for Round 2?
  11. When does registration for the competition start?
  12. You mention that the competition challenges will be mapped to the NICE Framework. Where can I get more information on the NICE Framework?
  13. I’m eligible to participate in the President’s Cup, but I don’t have a team. Can I participate as an individual?
  14. I’m a detailee and I want to participate. Which organization do I participate with—my original agency or my detailed agency?
  15. Can I participate on more than one team at a time?
  16. What if I can't access my email when I'm out of the office?
  17. Can I copy and paste between my host and the gamespace virtual machines?
  18. If I reach my limit of virtual gamespaces (5 for teams, 2 for individuals), can I move on to another challenge?
  19. Is partial credit available for challenge submissions?
  20. Is there a recommended format for answer submissions?
  21. President’s Cup Support is asking for my “challenge Support Code”. Where can I find it?
  22. How are teams selected to advance to Qualifying Round 2?
  23. How are individuals selected to advance to Qualifying Round 2?
  24. How are teams and individuals selected to advance to the Finals?
  25. What happens if I qualify for both the team and individual Finals
  26. Are Service Academy Cadets eligible to participate?
  27. I participated in President's Cup last year. Should I create a new account or use my existing one?

0.

What does "Cumulative Time" mean on the leaderboard?

The Cumulative Time column is only used for tiebreaking purposes. When a challenge is started, a timer tracks how long it takes to solve that challenge. The sum time of all successfully solved challenges is posted to the leaderboard under Cumulative Time. Again, this is for tiebreaking purposes only.

1.

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

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

2.

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

No. All that is needed for the first two qualifying rounds is an up-to-date web browser and your registered account. Supported browsers are: Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.

3.

How does each round’s continuous session timer work?

A session timer starts when you click the "Start Session" button on a Gameboard's welcome page. After starting the session, you/your team will have a limited amount of time to complete as many challenges as you can.

The session time limits for the 2021 competition are:

Competition Session Time Limit
Team Competition 8 hours
Individual Track A 4 hours
Individual Track B 4 hours

The session timer runs continuously and cannot be paused. Your round score is determined by the sum of all successful challenges completed during your session.

PLEASE NOTE: For the Teams competition, any team member can start the session.

4.

Does my score carry over from one round to the next?

No. The score for each round starts at zero.

5.

How are ties handled?

In the event of a tiebreaker, the "Cumulative Time" figure will be used to determine who moves on to the Final Round. The Cumulative Time is the total time spent in challenges successfully solved. This is calculated using a timer specific to each challenge on your game board. When you start a challenge, the timer starts. When you successfully solve a challenge, your score and cumulative time are updated.

PLEASE NOTE:

  • Your challenge timer does not stop if you "delete" a challenge space or go work on another challenge. If you start a challenge, then start and work on another challenge, and return to your previous challenge, your challenge timer is still running.
  • Time spent in challenges failed, or challenges started and not finished, does not count towards your cumulative score. You won't be penalized for trying!
  • Your overall competition time is still capped at eight (8) hours from when you launch your first challenge.
6.

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.

7.

I heard about the President’s Cup, but it is too late to register. Will there be a President’s Cup in 2022?

Yes. The President’s Cup will continue to evolve in future years based upon lessons learned from past competitions.

8.

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

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

9.

One of my team members dropped out after Qualifying 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.

10.

When does registration for the 2021 competition start?

Registration for President’s Cup 2021 opens on Monday, August 30th and closes on Monday, September 20th for Teams and Monday, October 4th for Individuals.

11.

You mention 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 Cybersecurity Workforce Framework 101, is a more detailed introduction to the NICE Framework website.

12.

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

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

13.

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 awards.

14.

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

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

15.

What if I can't access my email when I'm out of the office?

To use multi-factor authentication without access to email, visit your identity profile and select Configure 2FA. You'll need to be logged in for this, so be sure to do this while you do have access to email.

There you can generate a Time-based One Time Password (TOTP) secret key. Use this secret key with any totp-enabled authentication app, such as Duo Mobile or Google Authenticator, by simply scanning the barcode. If you don't have access to your device, copy down the secret key and later input it into the TOTP app on your device.

16.

Can I copy/paste between my host and the gamespace virtual machines?

Yes. The cog button in the upper-left corner of the virtual machine console allows you to move text bidirectionally between your host and that virtual machine.

17.

If I reach my limit of virtual gamespaces (5 for teams, 2 for individuals), can I move on to another challenge?

Yes. If you start a challenge but would like to move on to another challenge without finishing it, you can DELETE that gamespace. However, the challenge timer will not stop. When you return to this challenge, you can RESTART the gamespace in its original state.

18.

Is partial credit available for challenge submissions?

Yes. All 2021 President's Cup challenges have multiple parts which allow competitors to earn partial credit. Each challenge part includes the number of points awarded for providing the correct answer.

PLEASE NOTE: When you click the Submit button, ALL of your answer parts will be sent to the grading server, and you are limited to THREE (3) submissions per challenge. This applies whether or not you leave any answer fields empty.

19.

Is there a recommended format for answer submissions?

Correct answers will vary based on the challenge format and the questions being asked. Please refer to the example answer provided beneath each answer submission form field.

20.

President’s Cup Support is asking for my “challenge Support Code”. Where can I find it?

The challenge Support Code can be found in the lower-right corner of the challenge pane. The Support Code looks similar to this: a347c5c6.

21.

How are teams selected to advance to Qualifying Round 2?

In the Teams competition, the top-scoring team from each competing Department automatically advances to Round 2. For the purposes of the competition, Departments align with the organizations listed during enrollment.

For those not included as top Department teams, the top 20% of remaining teams based on their final scores advance to Qualifying Round 2 as well. No time-based tiebreakers are used to calculate the 20% cutoff, so all teams tied at the score cutoff will advance.

22.

How are individuals selected to advance to Qualifying Round 2?

In the Individuals competition, the top 100 scores in each track advance to Qualifying Round 2. There are no tie-breakers; all tied for 100th place in each track will be invited to continue. Qualifying Round 1 leaderboard scores are used to determine the cutoff line, and no time-based tiebreakers are used in this calculation.

23.

How are teams and individuals selected to advance to the Finals?

The top five (5) teams and top ten (10) individuals in each track will advance to the Finals based on each respective leaderboard at the end of Qualifying Round 2.

24.

What happens if I qualify for both the team and individual final rounds?

The final rounds for the President's Cup team and individual competitions will be held on different days. Competitors who qualify for both final round events will be able to compete in each one without a conflict. Furthermore, each Individual Track final will take place at different times, allowing for someone to participate in both if they should qualify.

25.

Are Service Academy Cadets eligible to participate?

Service Academy Cadets are eligible and encouraged to participate! Cadets can register with their .edu email address, or contact the help desk at prescup-support@sei.cmu.edu and we will work to get you enrolled.

26.

I participated in President's Cup last year. Should I use my existing account or create a new one?

If you are using the same email address as last year, use the Password Reset option to gain access to your existing account.