Citi is a multinational investment bank and financial services corporation headquartered in New York City. As well as delivering financial services, in 2019 Citi supported the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in delivering the Commonwealth Cyber Exercise, also known as CyberX. This was part of Citi’s support for the Commonwealth Cyber Declaration.
Citi, along with partner organizations the IMF, World Bank, SABRIC and the Commonwealth Secretariat, agreed to facilitate a cyber exercise for the financial services sector in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
Citi needed to deliver this type of exercise across multiple countries simultaneously. Delivering a successful event required a stable online solution that would allow hundreds of participants to engage in the exercise at the same time globally.
There were three key challenges: first, delivering a solution that could be scaled on demand to allow individuals in-country to participate, as well as an unlimited number of individuals joining remotely; second providing a solution with a quick sign-up process and simple interface, as participants would be using it for the first time; third, providing a low bandwidth solution that was also available on mobile devices, as connectivity capability would differ across the regions.
Using traditional tabletop exercising methods while linking countries over video conference would have made coordinating activities and keeping the sessions on track difficult.
“THE IMMERSIVE LABS CYBER CRISIS SIMULATOR ALLOWED US TO SIMULTANEOUSLY FACILITATE A REALISTIC RANSOMWARE EXERCISE ACROSS CENTRAL BANKS AND FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS IN SIX AFRICAN NATIONS, IN SUPPORT OF THE COMMONWEALTH CYBER DECLARATION PROGRAMME.”
In June 2019 Immersive Labs powered the Commonwealth Cyber Exercise, which spanned four continents and nine countries as partner teams joined in. It involved over 150 locally based participants and hundreds of participants joining online, simultaneously playing three decision-based labs (co-authored with Citi).
Attendees were presented with a simulated threat scenario delivered through a series of ‘injects’. This was followed by a facilitated discussion to understand information flow and coordination.
Immersive Labs was the only viable platform that could deliver the exercise at scale simultaneously and remotely across multiple geographies.
The event scaled seamlessly for all participants, no matter their location. Decisions were captured and analysed in real-time to reinforce learning and develop understanding of incident response.
Feedback from each delegate and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office was that the event was a great success, and delegates were able to use the exercise to test their decision making, increase awareness of incident response, and look at improving national and international cooperation.