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PhD student and assistant coach of the national cyberteam

Adam Blatchley Hansen is both doing a PhD in cryptographic and working as an assistant national coach for the national danish cyberteam. As coach, Adam relies on his education in computer science as well as his many experiences as contestant and organizer in both national and international cyber security contests.

Teamwork and coordination are some of the key elements when The Danish National Cyberteam solves tasks in international contests. “As a team, it is important to know each other’s different strengths and also know, which tasks everyone’s doing – otherwise, you can never succeed. It’s important to stay calm, especially when you reach the endgame, and all that’s left are the most difficult tasks. These are some of the things I keep in mind, when training with the national team,” Adam Batchley explains.

When not competing or coaching the national team, Adam studies a PhD in Computer Science, at Aarhus University, where he specializes in cryptographic. On top of this, he spends his free time being a central part of the Scandinavian hacking team ‘Kalmarunionen’, that competes in contests all over the world. In 2021 Adam was even the captain of the Nordic super team ‘Norsecode’ at the Defcon Finals. This combination of specializing in cybersecurity and having a more hands-on experience and knowledge about Capture The Flag (CTF) contests, became Adams introduction to the national cyberteam.

”I have competed in numerous contests, and is by now a well-known name in the danish CTF-environment. In 2021 I was invited to throw a coahing-event for the National Cyberteam, where I got to share my knowledge of cryptographics with them. Afterwards, Jens Myryp, who is the national coach, offered me the position of assistant coach to the national team”, Adam explains. This became his entrance to the national cyberteam, where he has signed a contract as assistant coach for the next three years, whilst contributing to the development of the national cyberteam by having a seat in the steering committee at ESCS and as a member of the jury for the danish cyber championships. This also means, that for the first time, Aarhus University is an official partner for Danish national cyberteam, which consists of ten young talents between the ages of 15-25. The young talents are from all over the country, and are qualified through the danish cyber championships, which are organized every spring.

“The national cyberteam is founded in order for Denmark to participate in the European championships, but is also a way of creating awareness around IT-security amongst young students. Every year, the number of participants increases in the preliminary rounds of the danish cyber championships. This means, that the attention around it-security is increasing, which is a positive development,” Adam tells.

In fact, cybersecurity has never been more important than right now, where Denmark – according to Center for Cybersecurity – is experiencing a very high level of cyberthreats. As a result of this, Denmark need more experts to protect our companies from hacking attacks, that can cause shutdowns, like the one that recently found place at 7-Eleven.

Adam plays a particularly active role on the national cyberteam. It is Adam who, in collaboration with his colleagues from the Crypto-group at AU, has developed the tasks f relating to cryptographic for the Danish cyberchampionships. It is based on the results of these tasks, that the almost 800 participants are narrowed down, and the ten final cyberteam members are found.  Besides creating tasks, Adam participate in bootcamps with the national cyberteam, where he trains their skills in cryptographic, but also contributes with knowledge about the more practical parts of being in CFTs – meaning how you coordinate individual team members competences, so that the team as a whole performs at its very best.

European Cyber Security Challenge

Right now, the national cyberteam is working towards the European Cyber Security Challenge, which takes place in Vienna from the 13th to the 16th of September. National cyberteams from 27 countries will here compete over the title as European Champion in Cybersecurity. What topics the specific tasks include, is top-secret, but former champions has competed in topics as reverse engineering, network sniffing, protocol analysis, programming, cryptology, network security and mobile security. Last year, the danish national team got at 5th place in the competition, and this year they once again hope to achieve a nice result.

When the national cyberteam goes to Vienna, Adam and to other coaches are accompanying the team. Their role will strictly be from the sidelines, as teams are not allowed to get any help during the contest. “I think I will be quite difficult to only watch from the outside and not being able to help – especially if the team is under pressure. But we have trained them for all sorts of situations, so I am confident, that they will be successful,” Adam finishes.