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OZON 2023 cyber crisis exercise evaluation: basics in place, time for sectoral collaboration

The evaluation of OZON 2023 shows that the collaboration between IT and education processes has improved, with collaboration on many more levels than during previous editions. Participating institutions also practised cyber crises more frequently, making them better prepared. The conclusion: the basics are in place, time for sectoral collaboration.

Overall picture: exercise successful

The evaluation of OZON 2023 - conducted by COT, Institute for Security and Crisis Management - shows that the exercise was successful: more than 80% of the institutions indicated that it contributed to awareness about cyber crises within the organisation. It further shows that most participating organisations with a crisis protocol in place also used it during the exercise, that took place on 23-24 March 2023. Escalation and scaling-up procedures were also followed. In recent years, individual institutions have invested a lot in developing cyber awareness and response. This was reflected during the exercise.

Need for central coordination on information sharing and collaboration

There are also a number of concerns. At both technical and tactical/strategic levels, there is a need for central coordination on information sharing and collaboration. At the technical level, participants expect more coordination from SURF of the overall technical picture during the exercise. Furthermore, it is not clear with whom coordination should lie at the administrative level. This involves process support and coordination on perception. Decision-making on continuity lies with the institutions themselves.

Towards sectoral collaboration

Individual institutions are increasingly prepared with their own crisis plans, but sectoral preparation is lacking. With the increased dependence on IT and the vulnerability of data, the likelihood of sectoral crises has also increased. The COT recommends that sectoral preparations be laid down in a sectoral or national crisis plan for education and research. This will require discussing the roles and responsibilities of the umbrella parties within the sector.