Mark Child
Mark Child (Research Manager, European Security)

November 2022 was a busy month for the European Commission, with two major pieces of legislation passed that aim to bolster the cybersecurity and cyber resilience of Member States and at organisations across the bloc.

The first was the Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA), which covers the finance sector and companies that provide ICT services and infrastructure to financial sector entities. The second was the long-awaited update of the Security of Network and Information Systems (NIS) directive, known as NIS 2.

The broad aim of NIS 2 is to engender a high common level of cybersecurity in the EU, across all Member States, in the long term.

This is the first in a two-part IDC blog series that will focus on the implications of NIS 2.

The Clock is Ticking

The full text of the NIS 2 directive was published in the official journal of the European Union on December 27, 2022, and enters into force 20 days after that (January 16, 2023). Thereafter, Member States will have 21 months to transpose the directive into their national law (by October 17, 2024). What happens between now and then?

Building the Frame(work)

The next 21 months will be critical for the success of NIS 2 as regional and national bodies get to work on transposing the articles of the directive into their national legislation. Who will be responsible for this part of the process?

The prime mover in this respect will be the NIS Cooperation Group, which was established in 2017 to support the first NIS directive. The Cooperation Group comprises representatives of all the EU Member States, the European Commission and the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA).

The group will provide guidance to the national authorities of the Member States on transposing and implementing the directive. It will also provide guidance, advice and cooperation on numerous related areas including cybersecurity policy initiatives, capacity building, training and awareness, exchange of information and best practices, and vulnerability disclosure. It will also be responsible for defining standards and technical specifications, as well as maintaining a central register of essential and important entities in each country.

A second key group will be a network of computer security incident response teams (CSIRTs) across all the Member States. At least one CSIRT in each country will be designated as a competent authority for various roles including international cooperation and coordination, threat monitoring and analysis, and the provision of incident response and assistance to essential entities.

The third key entity is the European Cyber Crisis Liaison Organisation Network (EU-CyCLONe). Its task is to support coordinated management of large-scale cybersecurity incidents and crises at an operational level. It will also ensure regular exchange of information among Member States and relevant entities within the union. EU-CyCLONe’s role will really crank up once the directive is in place.

Key responsibilities will include:

  • Developing shared situational awareness for large-scale cybersecurity incidents
  • Assessing the impact of large-scale cybersecurity incidents and proposing potential mitigation measures
  • Coordinating the management of large-scale cybersecurity incidents and supporting decision making at the political level

Between them, these organisations, along with the Member States themselves, will be tasked with ensuring that when NIS 2 comes into force at the national level, it is appropriately transposed into national law and the countries are able to put in place the necessary structures and resources.

Kicking the Tyres

One criticism of the first NIS directive was that it lacked teeth. The EC is striving to establish NIS 2 more firmly throughout the bloc and one measure through which it seeks to do this is peer reviews. These are aimed at assessing at a national level the conformity, progress and readiness of the directive. For example, peer reviews will assess:

  • The level of implementation of cybersecurity risk management measures and reporting obligations
  • The level of capabilities, including available financial, technical and human resources
  • The operational capabilities of the country’s CSIRTs
  • The level of implementation of cybersecurity information-sharing arrangements

Peer reviews are to be carried out by designated cybersecurity experts from at least two Member States, at a maximum of once every two years. The experts conducting the reviews are expected to provide reports including recommended improvement on any of the reviewed aspects. Those reports will be submitted to the Cooperation Group and the CSIRTs network where relevant.

Conclusion

These entities and processes should ensure that at a regional and national level the EU and its Member States can develop a higher level of cybersecurity and resilience by adhering to the NIS 2 directive.

The second instalment of this blog series will look at which organisations NIS 2 will apply to and what will be required of them.

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