I was privileged to take part in CLAW, GÉANT’s second crisis management event that took place on 11-13 November 2018.
Over 60 representatives from security, network operating centres and marcomms from the global NREN community gathered in sunny Malaga for an intense two-day workshop, eager to learn from each other, share experiences and hatch crisis management plans for their organisations. New connections were forged and old ones were strengthened.
The two external speakers, an international business management coach and the head of security of a Dutch university, shared some valuable insights on how individuals and teams cope in emergency and crisis situations, and how reactions and actions depend not only on specific skills and personality, but most importantly on thorough preparation and training.
We listened with rapturous attention to SURFnet’s account of their country-wide cyber crisis exercise, OZON 2018, which saw the involvement of 50 organisations and over 1,200 people! An impressive endeavour and a large scale event that required coordination of the highest levels and took over a year to prepare.
But the highlight of the CLAW event was undoubtedly the table-top exercise that simulated a realistic cybersecurity crisis involving the NREN of an imaginary country. I gladly accepted the challenge to play the role of the exercise leader for one of the teams and prepared diligently to ensure that my group had a positive and smooth experience of the activity planned by the clever organisers of the workshop – not to mention how worried I was about the possibility that unanswerable technical questions might come my way during the intense 90-minute exercise.
The threat of highly sophisticated global cybercrime and the awareness that an incident can escalate to emergency and crisis levels in the blink of an eye, should encourage us to stop and reflect on how confident we feel about the systems, mechanisms and processes that have been put in place to safeguard our networks – so precious for what they enable, deliver and represent not only for the global research and education community, but for society at large.
So, in a nutshell, ‘If you want peace prepare for crisis’ (paraphrasing the famous sentence attributed to the Roman general Vegetius: ‘if you want peace prepare for war’) could be recognised as one of CLAW’s core messages as it explains and justifies the importance of the availability of crisis management, disaster recovery and business continuity plans for NRENs.