UNICC Cybersecurity and Data Solutions Support COP27 Climate Conference

15 December, 2022


UNICC team on the ground in Sharm El Sheikh helps UNFCCC with conference optimization

UNICC assisted with cybersecurity and data solutions for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, from 6 to 18 November 2022.

There were more than 100 Heads of State and Governments and 35,000 participants, including VIPs, country delegations, civil society organizations, coordination and management teams, technical specialist teams, UNFCCC and local staff, journalists, reporters and visitors. UNICC sent three cybersecurity and data experts to help out on the ground, in addition to providing remote support from Valencia.

Last year UNICC provided conference management, registration cybersecurity and data support to COP26. UNFCCC asked UNICC to continue this year with a number of services, including:

  • Virtual conference platform and infrastructure cybersecurity assessment
  • Onsite cybersecurity support
  • Data and analytics solutions to optimize information on participants, enhance data quality and confidence in registration data, with a view to enabling UNFCCC management to make informed decisions and gather insights from survey data.

Under my guidance as UNFCCC Director of Conference Services, that of the UNFCCC, Head of ICT and the respective team leads, the UNICC team on-site (and offsite) provided excellent support, particularly in the area of registration and accreditation. This enabled UNFCCC to successfully deliver a large-scale COP. The UNICC team showed absolute dedication, commitment and flexibility in being there to address the challenges and getting the issues resolved, often within minutes, especially during situations that needed immediate intervention. On top of this, the UNICC team on the ground were also able to manage some of their other prior commitments, which is commendable.

Laura Lopez, Director of Conference Affairs at UNFCCC

On-site and remote cybersecurity support for COP27
Under the leadership of the UNFCCC Cybersecurity Officer, UNICC was part of the Security Operations Center (SOC) team that supported UNFCCC and the Government of Egypt during COP27. UNICC was tasked with the vetting of the cybersecurity arrangements in place, as well as to participate in security operations during COP27 to ensure that a safe and secure information and cyber environment was provided for participants and delegates.

Activities in scope for UNICC’s review included a threat and risk assessment established prior to the conference, as well as a comprehensive security audit conducted by the main cybersecurity provider and the Egyptian CERT teams. The scope of the audit included conference facilities, network infrastructure, IT services, and end-user IT equipment and was followed by a remediation phase to address findings before the start of the conference.

Under UNFCCC supervision, UNICC participated in security incident management and response activities jointly with the main cybersecurity provider and the Egyptian CERT teams. Security operations were carried out by the SOC, itself embedded within the Network Operations Center (NOC) for enhanced interaction, and were supported by a Security Information and Event Monitoring solution (SIEM) deployed on-premises by the main cybersecurity provider specifically for the purpose.

During the conference, a UNICC team member served as a backup to the UNFCCC Cybersecurity Officer and worked on a shift basis to oversee the cybersecurity operations on behalf of UNFCCC during the sessions.

The UNICC team member interfaced with other SOC team members, the conference Infrastructure Lead Engineer, the NOC teams, the Conference Logistics Officer and on-site UNFCCC staff servicing the conference to address cybersecurity-related events and incidents.

Doing this, UNICC was responsible for assessing and evaluating reported cybersecurity-related events and alerts, daily reports issued by the teams, as well as for providing input to decision-making and follow-up recommendations to the UNFCCC ICT Lead as necessary. UNICC was also responsible for providing forensics investigation for cybersecurity-related incidents, as well as for providing regular threat intelligence updates prior and during the conference. In addition, UNICC teams undertook the cybersecurity assessment of the virtual conference platform.

As Head of UNFCCC ICT and Lead COP27 ICT Service Coordination, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the UNICC team for the high quality support we received on the cybersecurity front, which was very valuable to us navigating through this year’s conference.We were fortunate to have UNICC expertise in the SOC, jointly with the main cyber contractor and the Egyptian teams. UNICC’s on-site and remote contribution was excellent, in particular the additional support we received in the area of threat hunting and forensics work, which was key to driving incident handling throughout the conference. UNICC colleagues were great, reliable team players, and showed outstanding professionalism, dedication, and support even in stressful moments.

John Kiarie, Head of ICT at UNFCCC
UNICC team on the ground in Sharm El Sheikh helps UNFCCC with conference optimization.
Photo: UNICC

Data and analytics support
UNICC provided data and analytics support to UNFCCC for operational aspects. The UNICC data and analytics team focused on building data and analytics solutions to support the Conference Affairs, ICT and Operations coordination teams.

They created re-usable playbook and frameworks to manage workflows such as managing information on participants, support conference affairs team with registration and other formalities. They also worked to improve the data quality and confidence in registration data and enable UNFCCC leaders to make better decisions and gather insights from survey data, improving credibility with self-serve analytics on UNFCCC reporting platforms.

The team supported with high-level areas where to provide support:

  • Supported COP27 registration and accreditation data insights, with tools that supported real-time decision-making by UNFCCC senior management.
  • Provided optimal registration and accreditation services and development and implementation of the secretariat’s registration and accreditation standards.
  • Managed a COP27 client survey, a major reference and decision-making tool for UNFCCC senior management, management at large and Host Countries, as well as other conference managers in the UN system and intergovernmental systems.
  • Supported the Coordination Unit and Registration and Accreditation Management Team (RAMT) of the Conference Affairs division with responsibilities related to data analysis, data transformation and reporting. Worked under the general guidance of the respective Team Lead according to the area of specific assignments.

Data and Analytics team members, present in Egypt at the conference, also offered support for ad-hoc requests on stats and dashboards (e.g. on vaccinations, exceptions lists, etc.), maintaining, supporting and adapting existing dashboards as well as creating new ones based on requirements.

The high-quality data analytics solutions for the COP27 included client survey, registration and accreditation allowing for sophisticated insights and harnessing data to drive actionable analytics.

The team also liaised with ICT on the ground, adding additional data sources and technical issues, as well as an interactive client survey dashboard, a sentiment analysis for the client survey, interactive registration and accreditation dashboards and stable data infrastructure for ingest, storage and processing.

UNICC was proud to help with its successful cybersecurity and data solutions and support for UNFCCC at COP27 this year.