MOTC Organizes 8th National Cybersecurity Drill “STAR 8”

Monday, December 14, 2020
MOTC Organizes 8th National Cybersecurity Drill “STAR 8”

Doha – Qatar

In the presence of HE Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti and some officials, the Ministry of Transport and Communications yesterday organized the 8th National Cybersecurity Drill (Star 8) in continuation of annual national cyber drills MOTC’s Cybersecurity Sector has been conducting since 2013 with the aim of raising State entities’ preparedness and efficiency to address and handle cyberattacks.

Held remotely due to the precautions of the Coronavirus COVID-19, this year’s drill carried the theme: “Defending the Nation: Know Yourself.”

The drill covered topics on several fundamental technologies such as the security-wise designing of technologies and the necessary protection mechanisms by modeling the cyberthreats that institutions encounter and, therefore, stopping them and helping the institutions to better understand to what extent their defenses are ready to address lurking cyberattacks.

This annual activity comes within the framework of achieving the objectives of the National Cybersecurity Strategy in terms of improving and sharpening the national capacity in cybersecurity by qualifying professional workforce in this domain and boosting cyberattacks response preparedness by detecting, investigating, managing and responding to and recovering from them. This happens through cooperation, instant exchange of information and deploying the appropriate measures.  

“Cyber drills aim to determine the cybersecurity situation of organizations across the country and gauge their preparedness and maturity for protecting their electronic assets and their resilience to cyberthreats, as well as addressing any electronic security weaknesses,” said Acting Assistant Undersecretary of Cyber Security Affairs, MOTC, Mr. Othman Salem Al-Hamoud.

“This year’s edition of the drill is the highest in terms of number of participants in the history of cyber drills which now enter their eight year. The number of participating entities is more than 100 represented by over 1000 specialists. These entities relate to critical infrastructure sectors. The rise is nearly 27% compared to the number of entities that took part in last year’s drill,” he added.

STAR 8 featured diverse scenarios and exercise models, tailored and engineered by a team of experts from MOTC’s Cybersecurity Sector to fit the requirements of the participating sectors. Several important topics were covered such as business continuity during the Coronavirus pandemic with a special focus on the human element and its main role throughout this crisis.

“STAR 8 drill comes in continuation of a series of national cyber defenses that began in 2018 with STAR 6 themed “Securing Major Events” and STAR 7 themed “Know Your Adversaries,” said Eng. Noora Yousef Al-Abdulla, Director of Critical Infrastructure Protection Department, Cybersecurity Sector, MOTC.

This year’s drill is unique with two key features: the intensive focus on institutions assessing their own systems and defense capabilities based on concepts, exercises and techniques deployed in previous versions and the full integration between the exercises and the technologies - an integration that was only partial in last year’s drill, she noted.

The second feature is conducting a national cyber drill that size fully remotely, which is a valuable addition that could make it easier for the State and the critical entities in the future to handle any potential crises that could hamper the assembly in one place to manage cyber crises.

STAR 8 was conducted via a special national cyber drill platform accessible exclusively for participating entities with a direct, instant connection with the participating teams to answer any questions and resolve any technical glitches.

Qatar is one of the lead nations in national cyber drills, recognized at several regional and international platforms.

Ahead of the drill, the MOTC Cybersecurity Sector last week held workshops and technical presentations for all participating entities to support them by enriching their knowledge on how to resolve the scenarios of the drill and to answer their relevant questions. 

In a related context on the sidelines of the event, HE the Minister honored the winners at the national level of the “Threat Hunters 2020 Competition” MOTC last August organized in cooperation with the ITU-Arab Regional Cybersecurity Center (ARCC).