QCF Compliance


What is the QCF?

The Qatar Cybersecurity Framework (QCF) is a set of guidelines that are engineered to ensure that organizations follow and maintain cybersecurity best practices. The Framework was developed by the Qatar National Cyber Security Committee (NCSC) in collaboration with other government agencies, private sector organizations, and cybersecurity experts. The QCF consists of six core components: strategy and governance, risk management, protection, detection and response, recovery, and collaboration and partnership.

Who must comply?

The QCF was mainly developed and complied by the Qatar government to ensure that all organizations that provided services to FIFA 2022 World Cup had a cybersecurity best practices framework to follow. Since the FIFA 2022 World Cup has ended, Qatar continues to ensure that the QCF is implemented by organizations that wish to work with the Qatar government and may make it mandatory for other events or summits conducted in the country. The QCF is a flexible approach to cybersecurity and can be customized to industry and organizational requirements.

What are the consequences of QCF noncompliance?

Non-compliant organizations may face limitations in business collaborations, contracts, and partnerships, especially with government or government-affiliated organizations. Insurance companies often consider an organization's cybersecurity posture and compliance status when determining insurance premiums. Not meeting best practices found in the QCF may lead to higher insurance costs, as the organization is seen as a higher risk for potential cybersecurity incidents.

Compliance requirements

QCF functions and categories:

The Qatar Cybersecurity Framework has six components to help ensure organizations implement best practices.

  • Strategy and Governance Strategy and governance focuses on maintaining clear procedures and structures to ensure a roadmap for effective cybersecurity practices.
  • Risk Management Risk management focuses on identifying, prioritizing, and mitigating potential risks that threaten the cybersecurity structures that are in place.
  • Protection Protection includes mandating and maintaining cybersecurity protocols like endpoint security, access control, encryption, and network security.
  • Detection and Response Identifying and responding to cybersecurity threats in an effective and efficient manner are the core basis of detection and response.
  • Recovery Recovery ensures that a post attack scenario is smooth and operations are back on track as soon as possible. For example, a business continuity plan in the event of a cybersecurity emergency.
  • Collaboration Collaboration ensures that ideas and best practices are constantly updated to strengthen the cybersecurity posture of an organization and its network.

QCF roadmap

By ensuring that most of the organizations doing business with the Qatar government follow the best practices that have been listed in the QCF framework, the government increases cybersecurity awareness within the country and globally. The implementation of this framework will help in building the capacity for organizations to detect and mitigate security threats.

QCF best practices: A checklist

  • Establish a strong governance structure for cybersecurity-related issues within the organization, with dedicated roles and budgets.
  • Conduct regular risk assessments to identify weak links and strengthen and implement controls to mitigate threats.
  • Develop and implement comprehensive cybersecurity policies, standards, and guidelines that cover areas such as access control, data protection, incident response, and employee awareness.
  • Implement strong access control mechanisms like authentication and authorization processes.
  • Regularly update network security measures including firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and secure configurations.
  • Develop and test an incident response plan along with a business continuity plan in case a cybersecurity breach occurs.
  • Evaluate cybersecurity measures taken by third-party vendors to ensure that the data given to them will not be at risk.
  • Implement cybersecurity monitoring tools to detect and report incidents in real time. Conduct cybersecurity awareness programs to ensure employees are aware of the latest trends in cybersecurity.

Key QCF rules to consider:

QCF rule Code definition Compliance recommendations
3.2 Endpoint security service A capability for protecting all endpoints, such as servers, desktops, laptops, wireless devices, mobile devices, and other operational technology (OT) or IoT devices connected to the network, from cyber threats.
  • Track asset inventory of endpoint devices and ensure that endpoint changes, patches, and configuration go through a controlled change management process.
  • Detect unprotected endpoints via a security operation center and ensure endpoint protection is applied.
4.2 Application Security Service Application security capability is the process used to prevent, detect, or correct security weaknesses during the development or acquisition of applications and while using existing applications.
  • Ensure software platforms and applications within the organization are inventoried.
5.2.1 Network Configuration Management Service Network Security Configuration Management is the process in which the secure configuration baseline of network components is formalized and subsequently verified against the actual state.
  • Network infrastructure devices within the organization are inventoried.
  • Vulnerability scans are performed in collaboration with Security Monitoring and Operations.
5.2.3 Network Monitoring Management Service The network monitoring management is to maintain infrastructure availability and performance as defined and manage alerts and incidents in a way that reduces downtime.
  • Physical devices and systems within the organization are inventoried.
  • Recovery plan is executed during or after a cybersecurity incident.
5.7.3 Management Module The primary goal of the management module is to facilitate the secure management of all devices and hosts within the enterprise network security architecture.
  • Unmanaged devices and hosts are managed through IPSec tunnels that originate from the management network.
  • The firewall should be configured in active/passive cluster configuration with all interfaces being monitored for failover. Session pick-up should be enabled for stateful failover. Wireless Network Security The main goal of the wireless network security module is to ensure that the wireless network is secure and safe for all devices that access it.
  • The perimeter firewalls should be installed between all wireless networks and the enterprise network. These firewalls are configured to deny or accept traffic if it is necessary for business purposes and permit only authorized traffic between the wireless environment and the enterprise network.

Source: qatar2022.qa/sites/default/files/Qatar2022Framework.pdf

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