Human collaboration and leadership of cybersecurity teams, whether co-located or virtual, are essential when responding during a realistic cyber-attack and have been has been identified as an important predictor of cyber resilience and defence performance. Technology is good at reducing the number of breaches, but only real people, working together as a team can save the business once a breach has been successful, working face to face or remotely should not make a big difference in the quality of the response. Unfortunately, misunderstandings, communication problems and diminished engagement are everyday realities of virtual communications, and these issues, within the incident response team, may put the success of even the best technical response at risk. One of the biggest challenges for virtual teams, therefore is to prevent geographical distance from leading to psychological distance and to establish a set of trusting relationships influenced by a balanced assessment of other team members’ technical expertise and personality, especially under increased stress.
CyberFish psychologists and cyber incident response experts have identified a number of protective factors, that can help people improve remote team synergies and resilience. We have created an on-line exercise to practice these behaviours in a safe environment, specifically designed for cyber incident response teams. Our virtual incident response exercise was developed in a way that it takes teams through a realistic simulation of a real-life cyber incident scenario, just like a fire drill, step by step. Participating in the virtual incident management simulation offers a cutting-edge experience of addressing incident response in a virtual war room. The simulation exercise is followed by a guided discussion with a psychologist, which provides ample opportunities for reflection and establishing new routines for teams to work successfully together in virtual environments.
Participating in the exercise informs strategy and decision-making functions about answering questions such as:
- how would the organisation’s remote team be able to co-ordinate incidents
- who to include in contingency planning from the organisation and beyond
- how to manage stakeholder communications, safeguard the company’s reputation and make the right decisions for the business
- what behaviours does the organisation expect from their management team to model in the event of a cyber crisis within an existing crisis
- how to set up a virtual war room, and what roles can help in engaging people in it more effectively
- how team dynamics have changed in remote working, how do we counter the potential difficulties by using practical solutions
- reflection upon communication strategies used by the team in the virtual group environment
Our scenario is highly recommended for diverse teams, apart from cyber security team members, we encourage participants from the wider incident management/business continuity team such as senior leadership, legal, human resources, PR/communications experts to participate. The exercise will add value to incident response teams who wish to stress-test their existing incident response plan in a pandemic environment.
Available sessions for continued coaching for participants
Collaborative coaching sessions will focus on feedback and discussion of quantitative and qualitative behavioural data gathered on participants before and during the wargame scenario.
Topics addressed, as appropriate, may include:
- Personal/technical difficulties experienced during the exercise
- Virtual Interpersonal communication and collaboration skills
- Virtual Team skills
- Leadership style and team management
- Decision making
- Exercise of functional specialisation
- Internal cognitive processes
- Experience of shared information and other biases
- Situation awareness
The session discussions aim to enable the participants to reflect on their skills and performance, which will then feed into the formulation and agreement of an individual performance development plan geared towards increasing resilience, improved sensitivity to specific cyber skills and cyber team dynamics.
“The exercise gave me a different perspective and understanding on how I would deal with incidents in the current operating regime.”
“I became immersed in the scenario, doing it virtually also was very current. Completely new experience doing scenarios in a virtual format for me, and somehow felt easier to picture this happening in the real world.”
“I found the psychological feedback the most useful. It offered insights on how I might improve when acting as a team within a crisis situation.”
“Being observed and getting an outside perspective of how my team works really helps us put our work in perspective. Understanding that there are nuances of actual meetings that are lost over video conferencing is important for these incidents.”
“It was really enjoyable.”
“I certainly feel there was a lot for us to learn and reflect upon from taking part.”
“ It made me assess how I communicate in virtual environments.”
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