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Introduction to DORA

The Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) is a pivotal regulation enacted by the European Union to enhance the operational resilience of financial entities against Information and Communication Technology (ICT) risks. Adopted on December 14, 2022, DORA aims to create a harmonized framework to ensure that financial entities within the EU can withstand, respond to, and recover from all types of ICT-related disruptions and incidents.

Scope and Applicability

DORA applies to a wide range of financial entities, including:

  • Banks
  • Insurance companies
  • Investment firms
  • Payment service providers
  • Crypto-asset service providers

Additionally, ICT third-party service providers that offer critical services to these financial entities are also within the scope of DORA. This comprehensive coverage ensures a robust protection across the entire financial sector.

Key Requirements of DORA

ICT Risk Management Framework

Establishing the Framework

Financial entities must establish a comprehensive ICT risk management framework. This framework must encompass strategies, policies, procedures, ICT protocols, and tools necessary to protect all information and ICT assets, including software, hardware, servers, and physical infrastructures like data centers. The primary goal is to ensure these assets are protected from risks such as unauthorized access and damage .

Documentation and Review

The ICT risk management framework must be well-documented and reviewed at least once a year. Reviews should also occur following significant ICT-related incidents or when supervisory authorities mandate it. This ensures continuous improvement based on lessons learned from implementation and monitoring .

Incident Reporting

Reporting Mechanisms

Financial entities are required to report major ICT-related incidents to their competent authorities promptly. This process includes an initial notification, intermediate updates, and a final report once the root cause analysis is complete. The aim is to enable authorities to assess the incident’s significance and coordinate a response across the EU .

Information Sharing

Details of the incidents must be shared with relevant authorities, including the European Banking Authority (EBA), the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA). This ensures a comprehensive understanding and coordinated response to ICT incidents.

Digital Operational Resilience Testing

Regular Testing Requirements

DORA mandates rigorous testing of ICT systems. This includes regular testing of ICT business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Financial entities must also conduct advanced threat-led penetration testing (TLPT) to identify vulnerabilities and ensure that their systems can withstand cyber-attacks and other disruptions​​.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Financial entities must put in place comprehensive ICT business continuity policies and disaster recovery plans. These plans should ensure the preservation of critical functions and timely recovery of operations.

Governance and Oversight

Governance Structures

Robust governance structures are essential for effective ICT risk management. Financial entities must assign clear responsibilities for managing ICT risks and ensure that senior management is actively involved in overseeing the ICT risk management framework .

Oversight of Third-Party Providers

The European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) have the power to oversee critical ICT third-party service providers. This oversight ensures these providers adhere to stringent risk management standards, thereby mitigating risks to financial entities.

Third-Party Risk Management

Managing ICT Third-Party Risks

Financial entities must ensure that ICT third-party service providers comply with DORA’s requirements. This involves conducting thorough due diligence, establishing clear contractual obligations, and continuously monitoring the performance and compliance of third-party providers.

Designation of Critical ICT Providers

DORA introduces the concept of “critical ICT third-party service providers” who are subject to enhanced oversight by the ESAs. This ensures that the most impactful providers are held to the highest standards of operational resilience.

Achieving DORA Compliance

Step-by-Step Compliance Guide

Step 1: Assess Current ICT Risk Management Practices

Begin by assessing your current ICT risk management practices against DORA’s requirements. Identify gaps and areas for improvement in your existing frameworks.

Step 2: Develop or Update ICT Risk Management Framework

Based on the assessment, develop or update your ICT risk management framework. This should include comprehensive policies, procedures, robust security measures, and regular documentation and review processes.

Step 3: Implement Incident Reporting Mechanisms

Establish mechanisms for timely reporting of ICT-related incidents. Set up processes for initial notifications, intermediate updates, and final reports, ensuring seamless communication with competent authorities.

Step 4: Conduct Regular Resilience Testing

Develop and implement a testing plan that includes business continuity exercises, disaster recovery drills, and threat-led penetration testing. Regular testing ensures that ICT systems are resilient and can recover from disruptions.

Step 5: Enhance Governance and Oversight

Strengthen your governance structures by assigning clear responsibilities for ICT risk management. Ensure senior management is involved in steering and adapting the ICT risk management framework.

Step 6: Manage Third-Party Risks

Ensure that ICT third-party service providers comply with DORA’s requirements. Conduct thorough due diligence, establish clear contractual obligations, and continuously monitor third-party providers’ performance and compliance.


DORA represents a significant advancement in enhancing the digital resilience of the financial sector in the EU. By adhering to its comprehensive framework, financial entities can effectively manage ICT risks, protect their information assets, and maintain operational continuity in the face of disruptions. Compliance with DORA not only safeguards the financial system but also enhances trust and confidence among stakeholders, paving the way for a more secure and resilient digital future.