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    Countering Digital Terrorism

    Propose solutions to counter terrorist use of new technologies.

    The Challenge

    Develop a solution to address one, or more, of the following online terrorist activities. Solutions can be technical or non-technical (data visualization, policies, standards, awareness raising) but they must address the issues of digital terrorist activity:

       1) Kinetic cyber-attacks to critical infrastructure and/or IoT devices
       2) Spread of terrorist content online
       3) Online terrorist communications
       4) Digital terrorist financing

    This is the list of teams selected to participate in the #CyberChallenge event to be held this December 5 – 6, 2019, at the United Nations in Vienna, Austria.

    Just Truth: Countering The Spread of Terrorist Content Online with PsychographicsCommunity based CyberTerrorism Content Filtering and CensorshipFramework for Seminar Series Curriculum: Tackling Radicalisation Through Prevention Education, Teaching Digital Skills, and Entrepreneurship Education
    Link Analysis and Data Visualization To Help Discover Trends and Secrets of Online Terrorist Communications in KenyaNot f***(aked) - Online Counterfeit DetectorA Plug-and-Play Forensicator System for Live Forensics
    Foundation of virtual security and data processing service center for cooperation with Peaceful Nuclear Power Agencies counter terrorism.Layer 8 : Securing the human factorOverview of policies/legislative measures to prevent the dissemination of terrorist content online
    ChainJail: Preventing Digital Terrorist Financing3Ps to Counter Cyber Terrorism -- Prevent, Protect, Partner: A Multi-Pronged, Multilateral Policy Framework with Delineated Implementation MechanismsPolicy Brief: Online Community Policing
    International Standard for the Usage of Quantum ComputingCooperative Measures to Protect Critical Infrastructures from Terrorist use of ICTs (With a special focus on ASEAN Region)An Intelligent Terrorism Detection System using Machine Learning

    Why does this matter?

    The use of computer network devices by terrorist actors to sabotage critical national infrastructures such as energy, transportation systems, water, government facilities, healthcare, or communications is of increasing concern to United Nations Member States. Several terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaida and ISIL/Daesh, have expressed intent to build offensive cyber capabilities that would allow them to carry out potentially devastating attacks from afar. There is clearly a need to build Member State security and resilience against such attacks, as well as the ability to mitigate, to recover and to restore them, should they occur, as well as bringing those responsible to justice.

    Research has shown that phenomena such as FTF, terrorist recruitment, and the spread of violent extremist content across the world have all been made possible through the global reach of the internet. Studies have also shown that “the fame of ISIS, which has gained worldwide attention as the most brutal Islamist terror group of our times, would not have been possible without the internet and the reach of broadband connectivity […]. The fact that ISIS managed to take over the front pages of major global news outlets was by design”.[1]  

    Over the past decade, important developments in digital technology have acquired an ever-increasing role in the progress of global economy and society, among others 1) Big Data analytics, 2) Artificial Intelligence, 3) substantive increases in computing processing power, 4) Cybersecurity and encryption, 5)5G mobile networks, 6) Blockchain and 7) interconnected devices and the Internet of Things (IoTs). While the benefits of these technologies are undeniable, there is a risk that they can also be exploited with malicious intent for the spread of extremist narratives and the implementation of kinetic cyber-attacks by terrorist actors.

    It is therefore necessary to act proactively and develop solutions embracing these technologies to counter their malicious use by terrorists.


    Importance of Youth Engagement

    While the need and merits to engage with youth as partners in prevention is clear, terrorist misuse of new technologies target and exploit youth more than other age demographics. This makes countries with large youth populations more vulnerable to terrorism and results in a stronger correlation with those countries most affected by terrorism. Notwithstanding this, no country is immune and young people are affected worldwide, but youth can also have a positive impact to prevent terrorist misuse of new technologies.

    Consequently, due to their unique and first-hand experiences of terrorist misuse of new technologies, engagement with youth in the cybersecurity security project is crucial, and of particular importance to the Innovation Challenge. It will empower them to become part of the solution as agents of change, in line with relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. Therefore, this Innovation Challenge is coordinated with the UNCCT Youth Engagement and Empowerment Programme, to create synergies and outreach to a broad set of young people worldwide.

    Regional focus

    Given the current priorities of UNCCT’s Cybersecurity project, this Innovation Challenge will be specially focused in solutions that tackle the problems associated to terrorist use of cybersecurity and new technologies in the Africa, South / South East Asia regions.



    For this challenge, no specific datasets are provided. Participants can, and are encouraged to, gather data from online open sources (e.g. social media, search engines, libraries, etc.).



    Solutions must be submitted by teams of 2 to 4 persons.



    Participants must be within the age from 18 to 38 years old. Participation submissions will be accepted globally, but selection prioritization will be given to teams formed by nationals from the African and Asian regions at the discretion of the challenge organizers.


    Review of Solutions

    The solutions received will be evaluated by a team of UNCCT and OICT experts with the objective to rank and identify the most relevant and well-developed tools.


    Review Criteria

    Throughout this challenge, solutions will be reviewed based on the below criteria:

    • Relevance of the solution to the task objectives described in the problem statement
    • Regional of focus: Relevance of the solution to the regions of Africa, South Asia or South East Asia
    • Applicability to the targeted issues – Alignment to the terrorist activities described in the problem statement
    • User experience
    • Advocacy / Awareness raising – Outreach and engagement regarding terrorist digital threats and the techniques to counter them
    • Innovation
    • Presentation online, and to the judging panel
    • Maturity and completeness of the solution



    The top-ranking proposals, up to a maximum of 40 people (between 10 and 20 teams, depending on the number of participants per team), will be selected to participate in the event to be held in Vienna, Austria. (The exact date and location are subject to change). Air tickets (economy class), terminal expenses and daily subsistence allowance (DSA) to travel to the event for the two days of the event will be provided by UNCCT.


    What will happen at the #CyberChallenge event?

    During this event the solutions will be refined and further developed in cooperation with technology partners and subject-matter experts invited.

    On the first morning of the event day, teams will simultaneously present their solutions to the audience and will meet mentors (technology partners and subject-matter experts) who will guide them and provide them advice and hands-on assistance to enhance their solutions. Teams and mentors will thereon work throughout the two days to enhance their solutions and their presentations.

    During the second day, teams will deliver 10-minute presentations of their upgraded solutions.

    The top four scoring teams will be recognised during a closing ceremony.


    Challenge timeline

    October: Open the call for solutions

    November 10th: Close the admission of proposals and begin shortlisting the teams for onsite event

    December 5 and 6: On-site innovation competition in Vienna.

    Background Notes and References

    Prominence of addressing cybersecurity in the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

    In the United Nations Global-Counter Terrorism Strategy (A/RES/60/288), Member States resolved to work with the United Nations with due regard to confidentiality, respecting human rights and in compliance with other obligations under international law, to explore ways and means to coordinate efforts at the international and regional levels to counter terrorism in all its forms and manifestations on the internet.

    During the sixth review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (A/RES/72/284), Member States expressed concern at the increasing use by terrorists of information and communications technologies (ICT), in particular the internet and other media, and the use of such technologies to commit, incite, recruit for, fund or plan terrorist acts. Member States further noted the importance of cooperation among stakeholders in the implementation of the Strategy, including among Member States, international, regional and sub regional organizations, the private sector and civil society.

    The review also encourages Member States to empower youth, inter alia, by “considering practical ways to include youth in the development of relevant programmes and initiatives aimed at preventing violent extremism conducive to terrorism”. The UN Youth Strategy Youth 2030: Working With and For Youth envisions a United Nations system that provides youth mainstreaming structures, engagement platforms, and dialogue opportunities for youth. Also, the United Nations Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism identifies youth empowerment as a priority area.

    In resolution 2341 (2017), the Security Council Calls upon Member States “to establish or strengthen national, regional and international partnerships with stakeholders, both public and private, as appropriate, to share information and experience in order to prevent, protect, mitigate, investigate, respond to and recover from damage from terrorist attacks on critical infrastructure facilities, including through joint training, and use or establishment of relevant communication or emergency warning networks.”

    In its resolution 2396 (2017), the Security Council noted “with concern that terrorists craft distorted narratives, which are utilized to polarize communities, recruit supporters and foreign terrorist fighters, mobilize resources and garner support from sympathizers, in particular by exploiting information and communications technologies, including through the Internet and social media.”


     Section 1 - General

    • The project hereinafter referred to as the “Competition”, will be conducted under the name “Innovation Challenge”. The Competition will be published online on the Unite Ideas website at
    • The Organizer of the Competition is the United Nations represented by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center (UNCCT), United Nations Office for Counter-Terrorism, hereinafter referred to as the “Organizer”.
    • The Competition is subject to the terms and conditions set forth herein, and the Terms and Conditions of Use of the United Nations Web Sites Including Unite Ideas (collectively, the “Terms and Conditions”).

    Section 2 - Eligibility and Participation

    • The Competition is open to students and youth between the ages of 18[1]to 38 (each, a “Participant”). Participation in the Competition constitutes a Participant’s full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these Terms and Conditions.  Any breach of these Terms and Conditions may result in exclusion of a Participant.
    • Each Participant will have to form a team which shall comprise of a maximum of 4 (four) Participants and a minimum of 2 participants (each a “Team”). Switching Teams is not allowed unless the Organizer provides its written consent.  The Organizer is not responsible for, and will not assist in resolving, any disputes between Participants or Teams. If any Participant in a Team needs to be withdrawn or replaced for any reason, the Team shall notify the Organizer in writing. 
    • These Terms and Conditions may be amended or modified at any time by the Organizer.

     Section 3. Submissions and Scoring of Submissions.

    • In order to participate in the Competition, the following conditions will need to be met:
    1. A Team may only submit one (1) Submission.
    2. Incomplete Submissions may be disqualified.
    3. Each Submission must be original, of one or more of the Participants’ or Team’s own creation, and newly written for the Competition and must not have been entered in any other competition or program similar to the Competition. “Newly written” means that Participants cannot in any way copy software code that already privately exists, and submit it as part of a Submission. Submissions may be subject to a due diligence review at any time for eligibility and compliance with the Terms and Competition.  Determination of eligibility and compliance is at the sole discretion of the Organizer.  The Organizer reserves the right to disqualify any Submission if the Submission or a Participant or a Team does not comply with these Terms and Conditions.
    • Submissions will be accepted globally. The Organizer is however entitled to give a higher priority to teams formed by nationals from the African and Asian regions.
    • The Submissions will be evaluated by a panel of experts from the UNCCT and the United Nations Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT) (the “Evaluators”) who will rank and identify the most relevant and well-developed tools that form the solutions (“Solutions”) according to the following criteria:
    1. originality/creativity (20%);
    2. innovation (25%);
    3. analytical skills (10%);
    4. strategic thinking (15%); and
    5. practical implementation (30%).
    • The decision by the Evaluators concerning the selection of the top-ranking Teams is final and binding on the Participants.
    • The Teams with the top-ranking Solutions will be notified in writing by the Organizer that they will be entitled to participate in the on-site event to be held in Vienna, Austria on Dec 5thand 6th. (“On-Site Event”). Up to a maximum of [forty (40) Participants] will be selected by the Organizer to participate in the On-Site Event.

    Section 4. Ownership of Submissions; Intellectual Property.

    • The Participants represents and warrants that they are the owners of intellectual property used in the Competition and the On-Site Event, except for content or computer code available in the public domain as per Section 2(2) of the Terms and Conditions of Use of the United Nations Web Sites Including Unite Ideas.
    • Each Participant further represents and warrants that the Submission does not violate any agreement or obligation to any invention assignment, proprietary information, confidentiality, non-solicitation, noncompetition or similar agreement with any employer or other person. Each Participant represents and warrants that the Submission is and will be such Participant’s own original work or the original work collectively developed by the Participants comprising a Team, and does not and will not infringe the intellectual property or proprietary rights of any third party, including, without limitation, any third-party patents, copyrights or trademarks.   Each Participant hereby agrees not to instigate, support, maintain or authorize any action, claim or lawsuit against the United Nations, including the Organizer,  or any other person, on the grounds that any use of a Team’s Submission, infringes any of such Participant’s rights as creator, individually or collectively as a member of a Team, of the Submission, including, without limitation, trademark rights, copyrights and moral rights or “droit moral”.  
    • Each Participant hereby grants the United Nations a royalty-free, worldwide, irrevocable license to use, distribute, publish, copy, edit, publicly display, and publicly broadcast, in whole or in part, any Submission, in any manner without compensation during and after the Competition for the official purposes of the Organization.

    Section 5.  The On-Site Event in Vienna, Austria.

    • Participants selected for the On-Site Event will be provided with the following by the Organizer:
    1. Air tickets (economy class) for each Participant in the Team;
    2. Terminal expenses; and
    3. Daily subsistence allowance (DSA) to travel to Vienna for the two (2) days of such event.
    • All other costs and expenses not listed above shall be borne by each Participant. The Participants shall maintain adequate medical, travel and other necessary insurances for the duration of the On-site Event.  Each Participant shall be responsible for obtaining, at its own cost, all medical, travel and other insurances and visas necessary for its participation in the Competition and travel to the On-Site Event. 
    • Each Participant must supply his/her own laptop to participate in the On-Site Event.
    • During the On-Site Event, the Solutions will be refined and further developed by the Teams in cooperation with technology partners and subject-matter experts invited by the Organizer to act as mentors to the Teams. The decision by the Organizer to match technology partners and subject-matter experts with the Teams is final and binding. 
    • On the first morning of the On-Site Event, Teams will meet with the selected mentors who will guide them and provide them advice and hands-on assistance to enhance their Solutions. The Teams will work with their selected mentors throughout the two (2) days of the On-Site Event to enhance their Solutions and their presentations.
    • During the second day of the On-Site Event, the Teams will deliver 10-minute presentations of their Solutions to the judging panel.

    Section 6. On-Site Event Evaluation Panel.

    • An evaluation panel will score the Solutions from the Teams from 0-10 based on the below criteria scored:
    1. Relevance of the solution to the task objectives described in the problem statement;
    2. Regional of focus: Relevance of the solution to the regions of Africa, South Asia or South East Asia;
    3. Applicability to the targeted issues – Alignment to the terrorist activities described in the problem statement;
    4. User experience;
    5. Advocacy / Awareness raising – Outreach and engagement regarding terrorist digital threats and the techniques to counter them;
    6. Innovation;
    7. Presentation to the judging panel; and
    8. Maturity and completeness of the solution.
    • The evaluation panel will rank the top four (4) scoring Teams.   

    Section 7. Announcement of Results, Giving of Certificates of Participation and Achievement.

    • The results will be announced by the Organizer during the closing ceremony of the On-Site Event.
    • The top four (4) scoring Teams will be recognised with a certificate of achievement by the Organizer during the closing ceremony of the On-Site Event.
    • All Participants in the On-Site Event will receive a certificate of participation by the Organizer during the closing ceremony.
    • The Organizer shall bear no responsibility if any Participant or Team is not able to participate in the closing ceremony and pick up any certificate of participation or achievement.

    Section 8. Publicity; and Name and Emblem.

    • The Participants hereby consent to the use of his/her name, photo and/or likeness, biographical information, entry and statements attributed to the Participant for advertising and promotional purposes, including without limitation, inclusion in the Organizer’s newsletters, the United Nations’ website at, and any of the United Nations’ social media accounts or outlets without additional compensation, and without any limitations as to time, place and duration of use.
    • The Participants shall not use the United Nations name or emblem, or any abbreviation thereof, in a way that could be perceived as an endorsement, commercial or otherwise, by the United Nations of the Participants, Teams, Submissions or Solutions or of any other non-UN entity/entities or any of such non-UN entity/entities’ or individual’s products and services, including for any fundraising purposes associated with the Participants’ entry into the Competition.
    • The Participants shall respect the goodwill associated with the United Nations name and emblem and shall not portray the United Nations or its officials, agents or employees in any manner that would negatively affect such goodwill.

    Section 9. Indemnity and Disclaimer.

    • Each Participant agrees to release, indemnify, defend and hold the United Nations (including the Organizer) and its directors, officers, employees, and agents, including advertising and promotion agencies, and assignees, and any other organizations or third-parties related to the Competition, harmless, from any and all claims, injuries, damages, expenses or losses to persons or property and/or liabilities of any nature that in any way arise from participation in the Competition, including without limitation (i) any condition caused by events beyond the Organizer’s control that may cause the Competition to be suspended or terminated or otherwise disrupted; (ii) any claim that a Submission or Solution infringes third party intellectual property or proprietary rights; (iii) any disputes among members of a Team or with Participants in other Teams, (iv) any injuries, losses, or damages (compensatory, direct, incidental, consequential or otherwise) of any kind arising in connection with or as a result participation in the Competition; (v) any printing or typographical errors in any materials associated with the Competition; (vi) technical errors that may impair a Participant’s or Team’s ability to participate in the Competition; or (vii) errors in the administration of the Competition.

    Section 10. Miscellaneous.

    • Nothing herein shall constitute an employment, joint venture, or partnership relationship between a Participant, Team and the Organizer or any other office or officials of the United Nations. The Participants will not receive any compensation from the Organizer in connection with any Submissions or Solutions.  Each Participant acknowledges and agrees that the Organizer or other Participants or third parties may have developed or commissioned works which are similar to the Submission of a Participant or Team, or may develop something similar in the future, and each Participant waives any claims that the Participant may have resulting from any similarities to the Submission of Participant or Team.
    • If the Organizer has grounds to suspect any Participant or Team of cheating, deception or fraudulent or other improper or inappropriate conduct of any kind (including, without limitation, manipulating the Competition, choice of top-ranking winner(s) or any Submissions or Solutions), the Organizer reserves the right (in its sole discretion) to disqualify any Participant, Team or any other person it reasonably believes to be responsible for, or associated with, such activity. The Organizer further reserves the right to disqualify any individual it finds to be acting in breach of these Terms and Conditions or in breach of any law. 
    • The Organizer is not responsible for (i) late, lost, damaged, incomplete, or misdirected Submissions or Solutions, responses, or other correspondence, whether by e-mail or postal mail or otherwise; (ii) theft, destruction, unauthorized access to or alterations of Submissions or Solutions; or (iii) phone, electrical, network, computer, hardware, software program or transmission malfunctions, failures or difficulties.
    • The Organizer reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, modify or suspend the Competition in whole or in part, in the event of fraud, technical or other difficulties, if the integrity of the Competition is compromised, or for any other reason, without liability to the Participants or Teams.
    • Both the Participants and the Organizers shall use their best efforts to amicably settle any dispute, controversy, or claim arising out of arising from the Competition and these Terms and Conditions.
    • The United Nations is in no way endorsing or supporting, and will not endorse or support, any Participant, Team, Submission or Solution submitted by such Participant or Team.
    • The Organizer’s failure to enforce any term of these Terms and Conditions shall not constitute a waiver of that provision.
    • Nothing herein shall be deemed to constitute a waiver, express or implied, of any of the privileges and immunities of the United Nations, including the Organizer.

    [1] If a youth is considered a minor in its country of nationality, his/her parents or legal guardians’ written consent will be required.

    Get started by clicking on "Post Idea" to let us know you are joining this project. Submit your draft idea and invite the members of your team to join you online. You can edit your proposal with links to your tools and prototypes, as you make them.

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    Challenge ends:
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