Prioritizing Digital Resilience Key to Post COVID-19 pandemic Recovery

Through investment in digital transformation, organizations can lay the foundation for long-term resilience to future crises.

The Covid -19 pandemic became a catalyst for change in organizations and across many other sectors. The period has witnessed the need to embrace new technology as organizations and businesses transform digitally.

However, concerns have emerged on how organizations can pursue digital transformation at the expense of resilience.  

These are some of the issues that KICTANet held at the 11th edition of RightsCon on June 9, 2022, themed “Building Digitally Resilient Social Justice Organisations Post COVID-19”.  RightsCon is the world’s leading summit on human rights in the digital age. 

KICTANet’s session discussed the importance of organizations implementing a digital resilience structure, looking at how they responded post-Covid-19, their preparedness, and how they recovered. 

What Is Digital Resilience? 

Digital resilience is the ability of an organization to rapidly adapt to the changes that come through upfront business disruptions by taking advantage of the digital capabilities and solutions available to restore continuity of its operations and capitalize on the changed conditions for growth.

Mwendwa Kivuva.

 Activities that organizations can take to ensure business continuity/digital resilience include: 

  • Having Policies and strategies as procedure manuals for recovery, policies, and strategies for change of management and operations, organizational growth, and external engagement.
  • Conduct a digital resilience assessment to assess the organization’s risk from all its business procedures. The reviews can be structured as audits of its organizational processes and procedures and analysis of threats within the organization.
  • Analyze cyber incidence, and have emergency response and recovery plans for when cyber-attacks hit them. Their systems have downtime or are just unavailable for a period, have early warning systems, and do a post-mortem briefing and reporting.

Steps for digital resilience

In the journey to digital resilience, KICTANet has identified steps organizations can regularly take towards ensuring they are prepared and can recover in the event of an incident.  

First is to understand its spectrum of challenges, know where to seek help (either externally or internally), have a strategy to respond and restore, learn from the incident and adapt from the experience, expand and optimize and finally, accelerate and innovate. 

A digital resilient organization has got to have: 

  • Software management systems in terms of updated financial applications, legit software, backups, antivirus, VPNs, cyber hygiene, and good authentication practices
  •   financial policies that allow for continuity of ongoing concerns in times of change and investing in proper IT systems
  • Leadership that is aware of the need for a proper IT budget and staffing
  • Training and capacity to sensitize staff on the need for digital resilience
  • Proper audits consider threat analysis and source for assistance in the event of an incidence.

 “The need to invest in proper IT systems is investing in software, investing in people because finance is a big part of digital resilience,” Mwendwa Kivuva – Member Board Of Trustees – KICTANet, emphasized. 

“When we are in a fix, what interventions have you put in place so that you either recover or prevent them from occurring in the future. Also, as an organization, self-awareness means actively investing and prioritizing your staffing needs, software and equipment when building digital resilience within the organization.” 

Victor Kapiyo, Trustee at KICTANet, noted that as security, safety, reliability, privacy, and data ethics become increasingly intertwined, many organizations have not prioritized digital resilience as a critical aspect of their work.

According to Kapiyo, gaps identified are in terms of investments and budgeting. This has made organizations unable to enhance the security of their digital systems, which remain weak, insecure, and therefore, vulnerable to attacks or data breaches. 

He also disclosed that civil society organizations are now working in a more challenging environment that is more restrictive and hostile. Governments are trying to control their work, increased incidences of political interference, and restrictive laws and policies threaten their digital resilience. 

Other challenges include capacity, knowledge, and awareness amongst other organizations, especially technical ability. In addition, the use of obsolete equipment There are challenges concerning the various types of equipment and tools, pirated software, and the quality of the internet, which increases their vulnerability to attacks. 

As we advance, organizations are being encouraged to budget for capacity intentionally and deliberate about it to put measures to enhance digital security within their budgets.  

Taremwa Albert, executive director of Local Sustainable Communities Org (LOSCO) emphasized that besides organizations being limited in financial capacity, they have to use what they have to be at the best front line through updating systems and training staff and being proactive. 

As a leader in digital resilience, KICTANet has established the TATUA Digital Resilience Center, which means ‘Solve’ in Swahili. 

This center will offer a banquet of services to social justice organizations in East Africa to enhance their digital resilience, quickly respond to and recover from digital threats, and harness the power of technology to enable them to achieve their mission. 

In addition, it has developed a cyber hygiene curriculum targeting the marginalized communities currently under the pilot. The curriculum is easy to understand and responds to the local needs of the target communities.

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