In November 2017, 40 representatives from 20 NRENs met in Malaga for the first ever CLAW crisis management workshop organised by GÉANT. During the two-day event, these brave individuals survived a simulated crisis, learned how to handle stress in crisis situations, shared their battle stories and solutions and worked together to deliver the first steps toward crisis management processes at an NREN and a European level.
The first part of this adventure was the crisis simulation exercise. All participants were divided into four teams (NOC, CSIRT, Information Security Management and Communications) and sent to different rooms. As soon as they reached their locations, the clock started ticking; the crisis unfolded over one simulated working week: a new day started every 20 minutes. At the start of each day, all teams were given different information sheets (maximum two per group) to encourage all members to work more closely in order to get a better grasp of the situation in the short time allocated for the exercise. To add a level of difficulty, every team could only use one phone and two laptops.
After assigning roles and assessing the situation, the teams started communicating with each other and with a central response team that directed the entire event in a very dynamic and resourceful manner.
Some things went extremely well during the exercise: participants did not panic straight away, swift communication initiated by a couple of teams averted a further crisis, a great initiative was the creation of a makeshift crisis management core comprising one selected representative from each of the four teams from the fictional CLAW organisation. Participants felt the realistic impact of the exercise as soon as they started witnessing events that tend to happen in real crises: some groups developed tunnel vision and communication between teams was not optimal to start with; in addition, the lack of predefined roles created some levels of frustration when it came to making important decisions, and emotions became quite heated at times.
During the stress management training that followed, we explored how to deal with stress and heightened emotions during and after a crisis. The following day, we worked on ways to make sure that every NREN has plan and processes in place to avoid issues arising from faulty internal communication, tunnel vision and lack of clarity regarding roles and responsibilities. On day two the teams started developing specific deliverables that will be completed and shared with the community in the beginning of 2018.
If you are interested in receiving the crisis simulation exercise and training documentation used for this event, please get in touch with Charlie van Genuchten (firstname.lastname@example.org). All materials will be shared with the GÉANT community.