Enterprise, Technology

GCC firms need robust cyber resilience strategies: Booz Allen Hamilton

GCC firms must make resilience an integral part of their threat mitigation strategy across the private sector and government services, a report by Booz Allen Hamilton, has revealed.

According to the report, this is to ensure that essential functions are restored after disruptive events.

Jay Townsend, Booz Allen Hamilton

The Booz Allen Hamilton study highlighted that currently, GCC organisations are already spending approximately $3.5 million per year on identifying and restraining data security breaches, far ahead of the global average of $2.1million.

However, despite such enormous spends, GCC organisations take longer than their European counterparts to contain a breach, with the average reported time in the GCC standing at 260 days, compared to just 138 days in Europe.

To reduce this gap, GCC governments are equipping organisations in the region with the necessary tools to build resilience across industries. For example, the UAE’s Regulation and Supervision Bureau (RSB) published a set of business continuity management regulations relating specifically to drinking water, wastewater and electricity services in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The UAE has also developed several plans to manage emergencies, such as the National Emergency Plan for the Telecom Sector.

Jay Townsend, Principal at Booz Allen Hamilton, said, “Investing in robust threat mitigation strategies and resilience response could reduce organisations’ exposure to threats that result in untoward incidents. GCC governments have recognised this and, over the past decade, have begun to implement systems and programs to help navigate uncertainty and enhance preparedness and response capabilities. But, they need to take this a step further and make it part of the strategic corporate and national agenda.”

Booz Allen Hamilton outlines the following well-conceived “resilience equation” that protects organisations against potential shocks; focuses on being proactive; helps to explore options for dealing with surprises and changes; and defines resilience objectives and guiding principles.

Rosa Dono, Booz Allen Hamilton

The resilience equation comprises Risk Management, Continuity Management and Testing & Exercises. Together they provide a holistic view for organisations to thrive and grow through changes, disruptions, and unknown events.

The report underlined that organisations need to consider having a Robust Risk Management Program to identify and assess risks across the entire organisation and to help with the implementation of risk management strategies. A sustainable risk management program covers eight focus areas, including Governance; Organisation and Decision Process; Strategy and Policy; Risk Appetite & Tolerance; Processes & Tools; Culture and Communication; Performance Monitoring; and Business Intelligence.

In addition, Booz Allen Hamilton also noted that establishing a Continuity Management scheme enables an organisation to absorb any kind of disruptions by ensuring they have backups and fail-safes, including mechanisms for rapid response designed to restore operating capacity. It covers the following key areas – Emergency Management Plan; Crisis Management Plan; Continuity of Operations Plan and IT Disaster Recovery Plan.

The final part of the resilience equation refers to Testing and Exercises, which mean having plans and procedures that are capable of revealing weaknesses and gaps and that improve organisational coordination, clarify roles and responsibilities, and create a unique learning environment. The best way to prepare for the unforeseen is by assessing strategic options and tactical plans through testing and exercises. This also focuses on unlocking the benefits associated with building preparedness, increasing resilience and sustaining performance.

Rosa Donno, Senior Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, said, “GCC organisations are already on the right track to building resilience, but they need to be more aware of their future threats and current weaknesses, so that they can take informed strategic and tactical decisions that can be applied across the full spectrum of sectors and industries region-wide, in order to prepare for risks and respond effectively to internal and external events.”

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