Head of National Cyber Initiatives Assurance Department at the National Cyber Security Agency (NCSA) Mohammed Murshid al-Mannai revealed that the National Cyber Drill for the current year under the title "Secure Your Data" will be held from Nov 20 to 29, with the participation of about 170 vital entities in Qatar.
In an exclusive interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), al-Mannai said that National Cyber Drill began as a pioneering initiative in 2013 and have become an annual national drill since then. He explained that the cybersecurity drill, with its core exercises, serves as an important administrative tool aimed at identifying and improving gaps, as well as determining the effectiveness of response and recovery strategies, to minimize the impact on society, economy and the sustainability of national cybersecurity stability.
The head of National Cyber Initiatives Assurance Department emphasised that cybersecurity drills aim to measure efficiency of participating institutions to address cybersecurity risks from the perspective of the readiness of the human, technological, and operational elements. He noted that cyber drills exercises are excellent tools for evaluating adopted plans and programs in terms of comprehensiveness, interconnection, and accuracy.
He underlined that the cyber drill also aims to raise awareness among institutions and participants about this year's theme, enhancing their compliance with laws related to data privacy and classification, and ensuring the practical implementation of these laws. Al-Mannai explained that the basic component of the drill is the "scenario", so the strength and modernity of the scenario is reflected in raising the level of awareness of the dangers of cyber threats, as well as keeping the scenario abreast of the latest hacks and methods that hackers follow in general
He emphasised the importance of the cyber drill in ensuring the ability of the participating entity or institution to protect its assets from being hacked, and the extent to which its procedures followed in confronting recent hacks are compatible with their various scenarios, indicating that continuing the cyber drills contributes to building permanent knowledge and awareness of cybersecurity incidents and their mechanisms.
Head of National Cyber Initiatives Assurance Department reviewed NCSA's various efforts and roles in confronting cybersecurity threats, pointing out that the agency continuously shares threat bulletins, which include hacking methods, how to be exposed, and the protection mechanism, in addition to vulnerability bulletins that aim to inform all entities of the spread of any new vulnerability, and to ensure that each entity is able to protect its data from it.
He also stressed the importance of NCSA's proactive work to raise general awareness about data protection and privacy, providing principles, guidance, and tools to assist institutions in facing potential risks, noting that the agency is conducting various training workshops, lectures, and consultations in collaboration with various entities and institutions.
Al-Mannai affirmed that achieving cybersecurity relies on both the National Cyber Security Agency and the entities considered partners in securing Qatar's cyberspace, adding that the agency's duty is to assist various institutions and empower them to protect themselves through appropriate technology, proper procedures, and qualified personnel, contributing positively to the ability of institutions to safeguard their assets.
He explained one of the key outcomes of the cybersecurity drill is the presentation of an analytical report revealing the participating team's ability to deal with the threat outlined in the scenario, and identify its position within the same sector at the national level, in addition to identify weaknesses and provide necessary suggestions to overcome them along with an implementation mechanism.
He clarified that the main purpose of the cybersecurity drill consists of two aspects: educational and awareness-building, as well as identifying weaknesses or gaps, noting that the National Cyber Security Agency aims to ensure the continuity of the drill and increase the number of participating entities, considering it an experience where the participating entity tests its technical and administrative capabilities in facing a specific incident in a safe environment.
Head of National Cyber Initiatives Assurance Department Mohammed Murshid al-Mannai speaking to QNA.