Belnet participated in a two-day workshop about crisis management

NRENs shared their experiences and best practices

Crisis management and communication are crucial for companies and organisations to ensure their business continuity and protect their reputation. On 12 and 13 November, we participated with four colleagues in 'CLAW 2018', an event about crisis management organised by the European research network GÉANT.

Together with about 70 employees from various European research networks we gathered in the University of Malaga for an intensive two-day workshop. After a short acquaintance, it was time for the real work. During a two-hour simulation exercise, it was our task to endure a cyber crisis as well as possible. We were divided into different teams that together formed one (fictitious) research network. Each of the teams consisted of network, security and communications specialists.

What was interesting about the exercise was that the scenario was worked out very realistically. Just like in a 'real' crisis, we were overwhelmed with information and questions, and we had to respond quickly and efficiently to the constantly changing environmental factors.

Prepare, test, adjust

What did we learn from the exercise? First and foremost: communication is crucial. Not only to the outside world but especially internally. The communication within the teams was not always clear. Very quickly, everybody was busy with his or her own tasks such as analysing technical information, patching security problems, formulating a statement for the press, etc. In doing so, we sometimes forgot to communicate and consult with each other. However, a good and efficient internal information flow is indeed necessary to endure a crisis without any problems. The role of the crisis manager as central figure during the crisis became very clear.

We also realised that good preparation is half the work. In 'peacetime', think about the different roles and responsibilities within the organisation, test the procedures and adjust them where necessary; think beforehand about crisis communication: these are just some of the elements that are critical for successfully surviving a crisis.

Learn from each other

On the second day of the workshop, we received a number of concrete tips and tools to get started with crisis exercises. Of particular interest were the informal discussions with our colleagues from other national research and education networks (NRENs) about how they tackle crisis management and communication in their organisation.

Has the story ended here? Certainly not. Each of us went home with concrete action points for his or her own organisation. Furthermore, we were once again convinced of the importance of continuing to exchange experiences within the European NREN community. To be continued!