Over the past several years, communication technology has undergone a remarkable transformation, shaping the way we connect, collaborate, and conduct business. It has evolved from basic email and voice calls to encompass a vast ecosystem of instant messaging, video conferencing, cloud-based collaboration tools, and more. This technology has become seamlessly integrated into our daily lives and professional environments, making it an indispensable part of how we work.
As our reliance on communication technology continues to deepen, we find ourselves in a position of considerable dependence. The efficiency and convenience it offers have become so ingrained in our daily routines that a significant disruption in this technology, whether caused by a cyberattack, a natural disaster, or a systemic failure, could have profound consequences on a business’s ability to operate.
While the failure of any business has negative consequences for people and communities, these effects can be even more disruptive when it comes to the financial sector. Financial institutions play a central role in the stability of the economy. Disruptions in the operations of banks, investment firms, and other similar institutions can have far-reaching consequences, potentially affecting the broader economy. Financial institutions are also highly interconnected with each other and with other critical infrastructure sectors. A disruption in one financial institution’s operations can have a cascading effect on other institutions and even impact essential services outside the financial sector.
Recognizing the need to ensure the robustness of digital systems for financial institutions, the European Union (EU) has introduced the Digital Operational Resilience Act, or DORA. In this blog we will look at an overview of the Act and the key requirements for compliance.
DORA is set to come into effect on the 17th of January 2025, at which time financial institutions will need to comply with the new requirements outlined in the legislation. DORA’s scope is extensive, encompassing a wide range of entities and services that play a critical role in the digital landscape. It primarily targets two categories:
- Financial Market Participants: This category includes banks, investment firms, payment institutions, and other entities operating in the financial sector. DORA aims to ensure the continuity of critical financial services by holding these entities to rigorous operational resilience standards.
- Digital Service Providers: DORA also applies to a subset of digital service providers that offer essential services, such as cloud computing, online marketplaces, search engines, and social networks. These providers are designated as “core platform services” and are expected to meet specific requirements to ensure operational resilience.
The Main Objectives of DORA
DORA’s primary objective is to establish a comprehensive framework for ensuring the operational resilience of the financial sector and its digital service providers within the EU. To accomplish this, DORA aims to:
- Guarantee that financial institutions have robust processes and systems to withstand and respond to operational disruptions such as cyberattacks, IT failures, and other threats.
- Enhance the protection of customer data by mandating the implementation of effective cybersecurity measures to prevent any data breaches.
- Establish a level playing field across the EU by introducing a uniform set of standards for operational resilience and ensuring that all financial institutions operating within the EU adhere to these standards.
- Reinforce the standing of supervisory authorities to monitor and evaluate the operational resilience of financial institutions and take necessary actions to address any non-compliance.
Key Requirements of DORA
DORA sets several regulations aimed at enhancing the operational resilience of the financial firms in its scope, including:
Identification and Management of ICT Risk
DORA mandates that firms identify and effectively manage information and communication technology (ICT) risks. This includes the development of risk management policies, regular risk assessments, and the implementation of appropriate mitigation measures. The regulation places a strong emphasis on proactive risk management to prevent disruptions and ensure business continuity.
Firms must promptly report significant incidents that could impact the continuity of their services to ‘competent authorities’ which are designated in each EU country by DORA. Timely incident reporting is crucial for assessing an incident’s broader implications and coordinating responses effectively. DORA defines clear reporting timelines to ensure swift action in the face of a potentially disruptive incident.
Oversight and Supervision
The competent authorities are also empowered to oversee and supervise compliance with the regulations laid out by DORA. This regulatory oversight ensures that the standards of operational resilience are consistently met across the EU and that corrective measures are enforced when necessary.
Testing and Exercising
DORA encourages a culture of continuous improvement by requiring frequent testing. Firms must regularly test and update their resilience measures using exercises and simulations. These proactive measures help identify vulnerabilities, improve response capabilities, and ensure that incident response plans remain effective and are adapted to deal with evolving threats.
Cooperation and Information Sharing
DORA promotes cooperation between financial institutions, regulators, and relevant stakeholders and requires that businesses actively engage in cooperation and information-sharing initiatives. Information-sharing mechanisms must be put in place so that there can be a coordinated response in the event of a widespread digital incident.
Preparing for DORA: A Compliance Checklist
To get ready for the January 2025 deadline, companies should start preparing now. To help your company meet its DORA obligations effectively, consider the following checklist:
- Understand DORA’s Applicability: Determine whether your organization falls under the scope of DORA as a financial institution or digital service provider.
- Identify Competent Authorities: Identify the relevant authorities in each EU member state where your organization operates.
- Appoint a DORA Compliance Officer: Designate a DORA compliance officer or team within your organization responsible for ensuring adherence to DORA’s provisions.
- Assess and Document ICT Risks: Map your critical business services, processes, and IT systems to identify and manage operational risks. Develop comprehensive risk management policies and strategies.
- Cybersecurity: Adopt appropriate and effective cybersecurity measures to prevent cyber threats and data breaches.
- Incident Reporting Protocol: Establish a clear and documented incident reporting protocol. Make sure that all employees understand when and how to report significant incidents to the competent authorities.
- Reporting Timelines: Ensure that your organization can report significant incidents in line with DORA-mandated timelines.
- Incident Documentation: Create a system for documenting and retaining records related to significant incidents.
- Incident Response Plan: Create and maintain a robust incident response plan that outlines specific actions to take in the event of a significant incident.
- Testing and Exercising: Implement a regular testing and exercising program to assess the effectiveness of your incident response and resilience measures.
- Cooperation and Information Sharing: Start building cooperative relationships and information-sharing protocols with other financial institutions, regulators, and third-party service providers.
- Employee Training: Provide training to employees regarding their roles and responsibilities in incident reporting and response. Foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness.
- Third-Party Assessments: If your organization relies on third-party service providers, assess their DORA compliance and ensure they meet the necessary standards.
Implementing DORA: Challenges and Considerations
Complying with DORA’s communication regulations will involve significant costs for businesses. This includes investments in technology and cybersecurity upgrades, incident reporting systems, staff training, and compliance monitoring. Smaller businesses, in particular, may find it difficult to find the necessary resources to put everything in place. Balancing the costs of compliance with the benefits of improved resilience can be difficult, but it is important to understand that the risks of data breaches and digital attacks are very real. Cybersecurity statistics show that there are approximately 2,200 cyber attacks every day, with a cyber attack happening every 39 seconds on average.
Another challenge for organizations is making sure they remain compliant with privacy laws while still fulfilling DORA’s reporting and information-sharing requirements. Meeting these DORA requirements may involve the transmission of sensitive data, and you will have to strike a balance between compliance with DORA and safeguarding customer privacy. At an absolute minimum, any data sharing must be in accordance with data privacy regulations such as the GDPR.
In addition to complying with all local legislation, businesses that operate internationally may face challenges in reconciling DORA’s requirements with other regulatory frameworks. Cross-border operations will need careful planning and legal expertise from specialists in different countries and will inevitably require additional compliance efforts and coordination.
All of these challenges have to be faced against a backdrop of a continually evolving threat landscape. New risks and tactics emerge regularly, as do new technologies and solutions. Businesses must actively monitor the threat landscape and be ready to modify their strategies and security measures in response to new threats and challenges. This proactive and adaptive approach is essential for building resilience against digital threats and ensuring the ongoing protection of digital assets and operations.
LeapXpert: Your Partner in DORA Compliance
LeapXpert recognizes that modern communication channels bring new security and data governance challenges. The LeapXpert Communications Platform is a solution for compliant and secure messaging and voice communications and protects any communication information exchanged with clients to minimize security risks. It offers built-in prevention of security risks including identity threats, viruses/malware, and data losses.
The LeapXpert Communications Platform is highly secure and enterprise-grade by design to support the strictest security audits and enterprise performance requirements, and offers data encryption, bring your own key (BYOK), single sign-on (SSO, and ISO certification. Supporting hundreds of thousands of users worldwide 24×7, support is always available globally. Book a demo now.
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