NESA’s Compliance Enforcement and Penalties


nesa penalties

NESA Standards have been developed based on the existing standards such as ISO 27001 and 27031 and NIST. NESA typically operates a tiered approach to enforce compliance. Depending on the level of risk your organization poses to the UAE information infrastructure, based on your organization’s current security controls and the inherent risk of your sector, determines the level of involvement of the industry regulator and NESA with your organization.

NESA’s framework structures the management monitoring, based on 4 levels of risk an organization poses to the UAE’s critical data information infrastructure for compliance. All the frameworks are based on a tiered methodology. The Security Controls are based on priority level P1, P2, P3, and P4 in the order of importance. Controls listed in P1 are compulsory for all the qualifying entities.

Escalation of the Compliance process and its impact

NESA’s enforcement of the IAS Standards is based on the levels of a 4-tier approach which are as follows

  • Reporting: Self-assessment by organizations in line with mandatory and voluntary IAS requirements;
  • Auditing:  When considered appropriate, NESA can intervene and audit organizations by requesting specific evidence to support their self-assessment reports;
  • Testing: When considered appropriate, NESA can commission tests of the information security measures organizations to have in place;
  • National Security Intervention: in extreme cases, NESA can directly intervene if the organization’s activities are leading to unacceptable national security risks.

NESA’s Non-Compliance Penalties

Although NESA has not mentioned any specific penalties for non-compliance, the intervention and escalation of scrutiny from the industry regulators and NESA should not be taken lightly. Organizations running their business in the UAE must be aware of the fact that if their business operations are considered critical to the UAE’s data infrastructure, they will inevitably fall under the scrutiny of industry regulators and NESA. Non-compliance to the set standards will bring with it the risk of scrutiny and high-level escalation which would also mean a direct intervention from NESA. This direct intervention may result in actions such as expensive audits, increased compliance requirements, more manpower requirement, possible lawsuits and even monetary penalties in case there are instances of willful default. It is therefore strongly recommended to all organizations within the UAE to comply with NESA’s IAS Standards.

The NESA’s IAS Standards are based on internationally recognized standards that facilitate a robust cybersecurity framework. Adhering to the set framework helps the company secure its sensitive/confidential data from a breach. For these reasons, it is recommended that even if an organization does not fall under the scope of compliance, they must follow the Standards to protect their business-critical operations. Organizations should seriously consider adopting the relevant parts of the security standard to secure their infrastructure from a cyber-attack.

Also Read: Brief Insight On What is NESA Compliance

How VISTA InfoSec can help your organization achieve Compliance?

We at VISTA InfoSec regularly help our ever-expanding list of esteemed clients meet regulations and compliance laws as per the industry standards. Our Compliance team provides comprehensive security and consulting services that bolster our client’s cyber risk management efforts. Be it Audit or Advisory, we work as an extension of your IT team and effectively manage compliance requirements on an ongoing basis. Among many Regulatory and Compliance services we offer clients across the UAE solutions that help them achieve NESA’s IAS Standards.  We provide effective information security consulting services and audit services that enable the organization to meet NESA’s cybersecurity requirements and compliance standards. We help organizations sustain and increase their cybersecurity stance every year and help them stay compliant as per the set regulatory standards.

Narendra Sahoo
Narendra Sahoo

Narendra Sahoo (PCI QPA, PCI QSA, PCI SSF ASSESSOR, CISSP, CISA, CRISC, 27001 LA) is the Founder and Director of VISTA InfoSec, a global Information Security Consulting firm, based in the US, Singapore & India. Mr. Sahoo holds more than 25 years of experience in the IT Industry, with expertise in Information Risk Consulting, Assessment, & Compliance services. VISTA InfoSec specializes in Information Security audit, consulting and certification services which include GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, NESA, MAS-TRM, PCI DSS Compliance & Audit, PCI PIN, SOC2 Compliance & Audit, PDPA, PDPB to name a few. The company has for years (since 2004) worked with organizations across the globe to address the Regulatory and Information Security challenges in their industry. VISTA InfoSec has been instrumental in helping top multinational companies achieve compliance and secure their IT infrastructure.