International Air Transport Association (IATA) and BeST (Be-Strategic Solutions) to Offer New War-Gaming Computerized Platform called Scenario.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and BeST (Be-Strategic Solutions) signed an agreement on 5th July to collaborate for the purpose of generating customized Simulations for the Aviation Industry using a computer-based program called SCENARIO.

SCENARIO is intended to immerse participants in simulated and interactive scenarios and help organizations to:

  • Effectively map out and evaluate risks by simulating unpredicted factors
  • Improve the efficiency of risk management by regular rehearsal of crisis response plans

SCENARIO – presents a unique opportunity for organizations to enhance their decision-making process and evaluate preparedness.  Participants in the gaming process operate in a virtual surrounding, which simulates unexpected challenges. The game reflects prevailing operational procedures designed to confront critical strategic dilemmas. The players represent competitors, suppliers, rivals, experts, government authorities, media outlets, etc. The unique interactive nature of the strategic gaming simulation creates a dynamic learning experience, accessible from multiple locations, providing a cost effective and modular solution.

 

IATA Chief Information Officer Pascal Buchner commented, “Every crisis, though rare, is different. That is why constant preparation and regular rehearsals of the crisis plans are essential. This collaboration with BeST will provide airlines with additional tools to enhance their crisis response by simulating various scenarios, practicing their plans, and identifying any weaknesses that need to be addressed.”

 

SCENARIO is designed to prepare individuals and businesses to deal with any crisis by refining decision-making processes and confronting critical strategic dilemmas.” says BeST Co-CEO Mr. Dotan Sagi. We welcome the opportunity to work with IATA to increase the effectiveness of crises management in the Aviation industry.

About IATA

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) represents some 275 airlines comprising 83% of global air traffic. IATA’s mission is to represent, lead and serve the airline industry.

About BeST

BeST brings together professionals in the Aviation sector together with Crisis Management experts as well as the world of Academia to create a system that focuses on decision makers and the processes they go through while dealing with different events. Together, our team has been able to build specific algorithms that analyze performance in real time and allow quick de-briefings presenting the decision-making process graphically with unique insights.

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Planning for Resiliency: A Lesson Learned from the Facebook Scandal

When crisis unfolds, it is not the event itself that counts. It is the response.

And while the strength of Facebook’s response to the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal has been disputed around the world across conference rooms and dining rooms alike, one thing remains irrefutable- there are no signs that Facebook’s profitability was hit by the scandal that exposed the misuse of up to 87 million users’ personal data.

Facebook reported an increase in both profits and users last week, as Facebook Inc. shares subsequently rose.

 

“Facebook…..has demonstrated for several quarters how resilient its business model can be as long as users keep coming back to scroll through its News Feed and watch its videos” wrote Reuters journalists David Ingram and Munsif Vengattil in an article commenting on Facebook’s resiliency in the face of major scandal.

So how has Facebook managed to avoid succumbing to this major crisis?

First of all- they’re spending to be sure their users aren’t scared away by scandal. Facebook CFO David Wehner explained that expenses would increase between 50 percent and 60 percent this year, which marks an increase in prior range from 45 to 60 percent. This increase in spending is for users’ safety and security, according to Wehner, and will endow efforts to eliminate fake accounts, eliminate hate speech and remove violent videos.

Another reason why Facebook has fared so well in light of such precarious circumstances is its crisis communications. Though met with a fair amount of discord, Facebook’s public response to the scandal (led by CEO Mark Zuckerberg) has been perceived as mostly honest and transparent.

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” Zuckerberg said in a statement on his Facebook page after news of Cambridge Analytica’s misuse of users’ data began making headlines around the world.

Public discourse shifted favorably towards Zuckerberg after he issued an explicit apology in an interview with CNN: “This is a major breach of trust, and I’m really sorry that this happened”. Oftentimes, the ability to rebuild trust amongst customers is rooted in something as simple as an admission of fault.

When a company is unprepared to handle crisis, even a small predicament can damage that company’s profits, operability and reputation. Yet a company that prepares itself ahead of crisis may have the ability to leverage undesirable events to work in its favor. Instead of frantically reacting to deteriorating circumstances, organizations that are sufficiently prepared will be able to offer timely and appropriate crisis communication to the public and to stakeholders while implementing their pre-designed operational response.

Although it is impossible to plan for everything, organizations can and should plan for crises that are associated with their business’s main functions. To this end- when crisis unfolds- these organizations will be poised to operate proactively in a manner in which they can truly counter undesirable outcomes, as opposed to merely scrambling in attempt to keep things afloat.

What would you do if you were an elected official in the midst of a cyber-attack? -*When Cyber Criminals Target Our Cities*

Co Authored by Chelsea Zfaz and Dr. Moty Cristal

Early morning on March 22, technical issues began interfering with the normal functioning of the City of Atlanta’s computer systems. It quickly came to light that a number of these systems had fallen victim to a ransomware attack. The entry point for the attack was a vulnerable server, which enabled the ransomware to spread to desktop computers throughout the network. The attackers demanded 6 Bitcoins (about 51,000 USD) to decrypt the city’s data.

The City of Atlanta remains crippled a week after the attack, as municipal court proceedings continue to be postponed and police officers and other employees resort to writing reports by hand. Yet government officials and civilians alike should be considered fortunate in that Thursday’s attack did not target more critical services- such as traffic light control systems or the power grid- creating a situation that would undoubtedly have more egregious consequences.

By their very nature as public service providers and guardians, municipalities hold a particularly high level of responsibility to guarantee the security of their constituents’ private information. These organizations are put in an especially precarious position when their systems become compromised. The situation becomes outright desperate when data is encrypted, especially when such encryption threatens citizens’ private information or the functioning of vital municipal services.

  • What would you do if you were an elected official in the midst of a cyber-attack? 

  • Would you pay a ransom to guarantee the safe return of your city’s data?
  • Would you pay a ransom if the funds were sourced from constituents’ tax dollars?
  • Would you need citizens’ approval for such a decision?
  • Would you trust the perpetrators enough to be convinced that paying the ransom would in fact return access to your data?
  • What would you expect the consequences of not paying to be?

According to the Verizon 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report, public sector entities were the third most prevalent breach victims worldwide in 2017 (last year, 12% of all cyber breaches targeted the public sector)[1]. How can all levels and scopes of government ensure they remain ahead of virtual criminal activity that is continuously evolving?

At the Muni Expo in Tel Aviv last month, Ivor Terret, Director of Be-Strategic Solutions, an Israel-based crisis management firm, presented a case study in which a municipality exercised its cyber-attack preparedness and response capacities. The municipality clarified the processes, personnel and equipment it had in place that constructively contributed to effective identification of cyber threat indicators, mitigation of cyber risks and recovery from a cyber-attack. The exercise exposed weaknesses in municipal procedures for risk and threat identification and enabled the municipality to institute practical improvements to established protocol.

The recent breach of Atlanta’s computer systems raises the question of whether municipalities in America are doing enough to protect their constituents’ private information. And while efforts indisputably vary from city to city, one thing remains clear- the more proactive the municipal approach to cyber protections, the more secure the city will remain.

[1] 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report, pg3

Observations on Disaster Preparedness

by Chelsea Zfaz

In 2015, I was recruited to manage a team of humanitarian professionals sent to Myanmar to support the response to massive flooding that inundated a majority of the country. Equipped with an incredible team of water engineers, psychologists and social workers, we set out to the farthest reaches of the country to ensure that even the most remote, isolated communities received access to the emergency relief aid that they so gravely needed.

During my time in the country, I had the great opportunity of working with people and organizations from diverse walks of life, which offered a fascinating window into the IsraAID_Burma_EliseAPAP_013 (002)cultural complexities of a country that, though on the brink of major change, remained rooted in tradition. I worked with tribal leaders from Ayeyarwady, teachers from Magwey, social workers from Myitkyina, NGO leaders from Yangon, pastors from Kale, monks from Sagaing and Internally Displaced Persons Camp managers from Hakah.

 

There are over 135 different ethnic groups in Myanmar speaking over 100 different languages. In such a sundry country, whose politicians, policies and practices often seem to leverage divisiveness as a tool to achieve various objectives, finding common trends amongst the people I worked with seemed improbable.  Yet, after a couple of months on the ground, I managed to see a through line that once acknowledged, could not be ignored. This trend crossed cultures, religions, socioeconomic statuses and vocations. From aid workers to government officials, from tribal chiefs to law enforcement, from spiritual leaders to entrepreneurs- I learned that people were rarely as prepared for disasters as they thought they were.

I was intrigued by this observation and was enthusiastic about evaluating its prevalence in Fiji, where I would land on my next deployment. I was sent to Fiji in the early Spring of 2016 to support recovery efforts after a category 5 cyclone devastated much of the country. An archipelago of more than 300 islands located in the South Pacific, Fiji has been experiencing increasingly destructive hurricane seasons in recent years and is no stranger to devastating storms. Yet Cyclone Winston, which made landfall in February of 2016, was the most intense cyclone ever recorded in the world’s Southern Hemisphere.

Here again I experienced this sociological tendency in which communities, businesses and government agencies had a certain level of disaster preparedness that had been assumed to be sufficient but had been proven to be inadequate. And again, my experiences showed me that people- regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, social standing, or occupation– are rarely as prepared for disasters as they think, feel or assume.

This trend was so prevalent that upon return to Israel from Fiji, I pivoted my focus to strategic disaster preparedness.

Raising an organization’s level of disaster preparedness is not a simple task, especially when considering that preparedness is determined by a number of policies and practices, many of which rely on action from external actors. The reality is that all capacity-building endeavors involve close collaboration between multiple agencies. Whether you’re working in emergency preparedness or response, or humanitarian aid or development- How do you ensure that all actors (including those who are contracted) cooperate consistently and operate uniformly, and that operations are not only as effective and efficient as possible but are also aligned according to equal standards? Achieving these objectives is possible only through critical analysis of both people and processes and informed assessment of the quality of their dynamic in managing various challenging scenarios.

As someone who has spent innumerable hours reacting to the changing conditions of disaster relief, I see great opportunity in shifting the paradigm from a reactionary approach to a proactive approach in order to refine the quality and efficiency of humanitarian service provision.

Such a shift cannot happen overnight. But I do believe that raising awareness of the importance of preparedness in the collective mind of civil society is a necessary step in reducing the extent of human suffering in the world.

BeST has hit the Headlines!

Ahead of our Competitive Intelligence War-game at the end of February, YNet interviewed BeST Founder and CEO Dotan Sagi to discuss the value of war-gaming in the commercial sector. (https://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-5106644,00.html)

Unlike more traditional approaches to war-gaming, BeST moves crisis management training from the theoretical world to the practical world, accelerating organizations’ crisis preparedness and response capacities from hypothetical assessments to authenticated practices.

Reporter Liat Zener comments: “The business world requires real-time response capabilities and coping with unexpected crises at any moment. When the business moves to the international market, the conditions change, and with them the rules of the game in the new arena.”

This is precisely what BeST trains its Competitive Intelligence clients to understand in practical terms.

Dotan Sagi notes: “With the help of the practice, we aim to get out of the theoretical world into the practical world. The purpose of the game is to provide tools for the exporter, not only with the way he thinks he will behave in an unexpected situation on his own, but also to practice making decisions together with anyone who makes decisions within the organization.”

“Practicing processes through war-gaming enables both intra-organizational and inter-organizational coping simultaneously, and the game takes into account how people will respond to the moves outside the organization.”

“The system constantly compares between expected and actual performance and what actually happens inside and outside of the organization, and is able to identify why events unfold as they do, in real-time”.

The efficacy of war-games is by no means limited to military and para-military organizations. Businesses who want to remain ahead of the competition or want to become leaders of their industries are turning to war-games to refine their decision-making processes and their organizational procedures.

If improving your competitiveness, your profitability, your decision-making processes or your crisis-response capacity is of interest to you- contact us today for a commitment-free demo:

Smart Cities Under Attack – Simulation Case Study

What happens when a city’s critical infrastructure is targeted by cyber criminals? Are there mechanisms in place to ensure operational continuity of the vast network of municipal services? Could traffic be disrupted? Sensitive citizen information leaked?

We are thrilled to be presenting one of our latest Crisis Management Simulations at the MuniExpo in Tel Aviv next week, during which we will be exploring a Smart City’s identification, mitigation and recovery from a cyber-attack.

 

Mr. Ivor Terret will be presenting at 15:20 in his usual engaging manner the full course of a cyber-attack as was carried out by BeST.

Coming Soon – Game Prototype Page

In today’s quickly-evolving, fast-paced world, we know that few of our clients have enough time on their hands to build their own games from scratch. Chances are- no matter where in the world you are located-  that your staff is overworked, your budgets are constrained and your operations are overloaded.

Fortunately for all of us, building games is what we do; it is our lifeblood.

We recently decided to add another page to our website where you will find a network of pre-designed, prototypical games that are widely applicable to organizations of all shapes, sizes and interests.

On this page, you will find games focusing on the most relevant and credible scenarios that we know interest you the most, including cyber events, natural disasters, aviation emergencies and financial crisis-related scenarios that are ready to be taken off the shelf and applied to your own businesses.

Each game is built according to a specific interest and enhances participants’ literacy in at least one of the following concepts: safety, cyber, business continuity and operational viability.

We are excited to begin sharing our prototypical games with you all and in a few weeks we will start to roll out the different games.

 

The Emergency Alert System Dilemma: How can authorities leverage technological advancements to aid (and not diminish) strategic disaster risk reduction endeavors?

People across the globe have come to rely heavily on technology, which has proven to be an exceedingly effective tool for wireless emergency alert systems. Wireless emergency alert systems can take a number of forms, but primarily use cell tower and Internet pathways to notify the public on a variety of emergency situations by sending text alerts to mobile phones.

During the wildfire outbreak in California in December, 2017, authorities sent emergency alerts to over 22 million cellphones.

During Hurricane Irma in September 2017 and Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, emergency alerts informed millions of people on changes to the storms’ strengths and trajectories.

The efficacy of emergency alert systems is generally acknowledged yet not without scrutiny.

On Saturday, January 13, 2018, a false alert sent to cellphones across Hawaii sent hundreds of thousands of people into panic as they mistakenly received an alert that read “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” As it was, Hawaiians had already been on high emotional alert as a result of escalating tensions between the US and North Korea.

Officials stated that the alert was mistakenly sent as a result of human error, not the workings of hackers or a foreign government. Senator Brian Schats of Hawaii wrote on Twitter: “This system failed miserably and we need to start over”.

The strongest argument against emergency alert systems is their ability to create unwarranted panic in populations facing no threats. So, we pose the question to you- our readers- are emergency alert systems innovative advancements that can save lives? Are they invasive technological-overkill that generate false panic? Or do they fall somewhere in between? How can authorities leverage technological advancements to aid (and not diminish) strategic disaster risk reduction endeavors?

Congrats to Dr. Carmit Rapaport and Professor Avi Kirschenbaum

All of us at BeST are proud to congratulate Dr. Carmit Rapaport and Professor Avi Kirschenbaum on being part of the group selected to join the National Emergency Management Authority and the Ministry of Science and Technology in a collaborative project called The National Knowledge Center for Disaster Preparedness.

At the 10th Anniversary conference of the National Emergency Management Authority this week, the National Knowledge Center for Disaster Preparedness was launched with the goal of optimizing public and the economic preparedness for every possible crisis scenario.

The new research center developed from the understanding that Israel, as a high-tech state that produces the most cutting-edge technological innovations and that is well aware of the reality of emergencies, embodies a close connection between science and advancement in the field of emergency preparedness.

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