Delivering the AWSN Incident Response Competition 2023


Following our success from previous years, Retrospect Labs joined forces with the Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN) once again to deliver the 2023 AWSN Incident Response Competition for the third year running.

Sponsored by the Australian Signals Directorate, this exciting event aims to increase the gender diversity in incident response. It is specially focused on providing women with a practical environment to learn critical technical, legal and communication skills – all required for a career in incident response.  

Event Summary

Commencing on 3 November 2023, close to a whopping 200 participants across 40 teams had ten days to navigate through a simulated incident response scenario. As each team launched into the exercise and took on the role of incident responders, we tested their ability to utilise their skillsets on multiple fronts as they investigated a fictitious cyber incident.

This functional (hands-on) exercise required participants to analyse technical artefacts to understand what malicious activities occurred, consider the privacy and legal implications and then pull it all together to prepare media statements and brief executives.  These entries were then assessed by our expert judging panel.

To temporarily take the teams' minds off exercising midway through the competition, we were privileged to welcome Kamil Bober (General Manager Technology at Latitude Financial Services) for a guest speaker session. Kamil captivated us as he shared his experience on all that happens when confronted with a cyber threat and taught us about the resilience that’s required in the face of adversity.

Also, remembering that this event was just as importantly a learning opportunity, Retrospect Labs led a post-competition technical deep dive session. During this time, the judges broke down tasks and analysed artefacts to bridge any gaps in understanding and provide another way for participants to get the most out of the event.  

Competition winners

We're all incredibly proud of our participants - we had an outstanding cohort, demonstrating their dedication, perseverance and a willingness to not only learn but to challenge themselves (and have fun, of course!). The excellent work produced was a testament to everyone's commitment and efforts during the competition.

Congratulations to Team Five, whose exceptional submissions led to first place! Team Five's members were Simone Van Nieu, Farhana, Peggy Wilman, Lindsey Henshall and Luisa Amanda.

In the second place, we had Team Twenty-Eight: Jacinta Hayward, Nora Zafar, Eleni Nikas and Michelle Welch. Finally, Team Eight - Susan Hutchinson, Kamaea Scott, Karen Calvin, Bec Caldwell and Laila Grach - took out third place.

Special thanks

An event like this can only come to life with the support, contributions and sponsorship of others. Special thanks go to our judges and our sponsors for making this event possible.  

Thank you to our judges who gave their time and shared their expertise in support of this competition.

Thank you to Cydarm for contributing their case management tool for the competition and to SANS, The Expert Leader and Lumify for sponsoring some incredible prizes!

Once again, we're genuinely grateful to the Australian Signals Directorate for their generous sponsorship - this event couldn't have happened without their support.


Our partnership with organisations like AWSN enables us to run events like these - ones where women from all walks of life are encouraged to get involved. It's a chance for us to provide opportunities to expose women to the industry, build up their confidence, give them some hands-on experience, and, ultimately, make a difference.    

We hope to continue our run and see even more women join us in 2024. It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman studying, already working in the field or have an interest in learning more about incident response – there’s a place for you in the competition.

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