Scope And Applicability Of DORA

by Sneha Naskar

The Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) marks a pivotal step in enhancing the resilience of the European Union's (EU) financial sector against digital disruptions. By setting forth comprehensive regulatory requirements, DORA aims to ensure that financial entities and their ICT third-party service providers can withstand, respond to, and recover from ICT-related incidents. This blog delves into the scope and applicability of DORA, identifying the entities affected, the breadth of regulation, and the criteria for applicability.

Who Is Affected By DORA

Who Is Affected By DORA

The Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) affects various entities within the financial sector, including:

1. Financial Entities

DORA applies to a broad spectrum of financial entities operating within the EU. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Credit Institutions: Banks and other institutions that accept deposits and provide loans.
  • Investment Firms: Companies engaged in trading securities, managing portfolios, and offering investment advice.
  • Insurance and Reinsurance Companies: Firms offering life, non-life, and reinsurance services.
  • Payment Institutions: Entities facilitating payment transactions, including electronic money institutions.
  • Fund Managers: Managers of investment funds, including UCITS (Undertakings for the Collective Investment in Transferable Securities) and AIFMs (Alternative Investment Fund Managers).
  • Crypto-Asset Service Providers: Companies providing services related to crypto-assets, including trading platforms and wallet providers.
  • Central Counterparties (CCPs): Entities that facilitate the clearing and settlement of trades in securities and derivatives.
  • Trade Repositories: Firms that collect and maintain records of trades in derivatives and other financial instruments.

2. ICT Third-Party Service Providers

DORA acknowledges the critical role of third-party service providers in the financial ecosystem. ICT third-party service providers, which offer services such as cloud computing, data analytics, and cybersecurity, fall within the regulation's scope. These providers are crucial for the operational resilience of financial entities, and DORA ensures that their services meet stringent standards.

3. Other Relevant Entities

In addition to the primary categories of financial entities and ICT third-party service providers, DORA also impacts other entities indirectly involved in the financial sector's ICT ecosystem. This includes:

  • Critical Infrastructure Providers: Entities providing essential services, such as telecommunications and energy, that support the functioning of financial institutions.
  • Regulated Markets and Trading Venues: Platforms for the trading of securities and other financial instruments, including exchanges and alternative trading systems.
  • Data Reporting Service Providers: Entities that offer reporting services for transaction and reference data critical for market transparency and regulatory compliance.
DORA Compliance Framework

Applicability Criteria

The applicability criteria of DORA (Digital Operational Resilience Act) are outlined to ensure that financial entities within the EU maintain operational resilience against ICT-related disruptions and threats. Here are the key criteria:

  • Geographic Scope: DORA applies to all financial entities operating within the EU, regardless of their size or market presence. This includes subsidiaries and branches of non-EU financial institutions that operate within EU member states. The regulation aims to create a level playing field, ensuring that all financial entities adhere to the same standards of digital operational resilience.
  • Proportionality Principle: While DORA applies broadly, it incorporates the principle of proportionality. This means that the specific requirements and obligations imposed by DORA are proportionate to the size, nature, complexity, and risk profile of the financial entity. Smaller financial institutions, for example, may face less stringent requirements compared to large, systemically important entities.
  • Risk-Based Approach: DORA adopts a risk-based approach, tailoring its requirements to the specific risks faced by different financial entities. Entities engaged in higher-risk activities, such as those with extensive digital operations or those critical to the financial system's stability, are subject to more rigorous standards. This approach ensures that resources are focused on areas of greatest risk and potential impact.

Detailed Requirements For Financial Entities

1. ICT Risk Management Framework

At the heart of DORA is the mandate for financial entities to establish a robust ICT risk management framework. This framework must cover the entire lifecycle of ICT systems and services, from procurement and development to operation and decommissioning. Key elements include:

  • Risk Identification and Assessment: Regularly identifying and assessing ICT risks, including emerging threats and vulnerabilities.
  • Risk Mitigation and Control: Implementing appropriate controls to mitigate identified risks, including technical, organizational, and procedural measures.
  • Risk Monitoring and Reporting: Continuously monitoring ICT risks and reporting significant incidents to the relevant competent authorities.

2. Incident Reporting

DORA introduces a standardized incident reporting framework, requiring financial entities to report significant ICT-related incidents within a specified timeframe. This ensures timely awareness and response by regulators and facilitates a coordinated approach to managing incidents. The reporting process includes:

  • Incident Classification: Classifying incidents based on their severity and impact on financial services.
  • Notification Procedures: Establishing clear procedures for notifying competent authorities and other relevant stakeholders.
  • Post-Incident Analysis: Conducting thorough analyses of incidents to identify root causes and implement corrective actions.

3. Digital Operational Resilience Testing

Regular testing of digital operational resilience is a cornerstone of DORA. Financial entities are required to conduct various forms of testing to ensure the effectiveness of their ICT risk management frameworks. Testing requirements include:

  • Vulnerability Assessments: Regularly identifying and addressing vulnerabilities in ICT systems and services.
  • Penetration Testing: Simulating cyber-attacks to assess the resilience of systems and identify weaknesses.
  • Scenario-Based Testing: Conducting exercises based on hypothetical scenarios to evaluate response capabilities.
  • Advanced Testing for Critical Entities: Critical financial entities must undergo threat-led penetration testing (TLPT), which involves sophisticated simulations of real-world cyber threats.

4. ICT Third-Party Risk Management

Financial entities increasingly rely on third-party service providers for critical ICT functions. DORA mandates rigorous management of ICT third-party risks to ensure the resilience of these services. Key requirements include:

  • Due Diligence: Conducting thorough assessments of third-party providers before engagement, focusing on their security measures and resilience capabilities.
  • Contractual Arrangements: Establishing clear contractual agreements with third-party providers, including provisions for compliance with DORA's requirements.
  • Ongoing Monitoring: Continuously monitoring the performance and security of third-party services, conducting regular audits and assessments.
  • Exit Strategies: Developing and maintaining robust exit strategies to ensure continuity of services in case of third-party failure or termination of the contract.

5. Governance and Oversight

DORA emphasizes the importance of strong governance and oversight in managing ICT risks. Financial entities are required to establish clear governance structures and allocate responsibilities for ICT risk management. Key aspects include:

  • Board and Senior Management Involvement: Ensuring active involvement of the board and senior management in ICT risk management, including setting the risk appetite and overseeing the implementation of risk management frameworks.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: Defining clear roles and responsibilities for ICT risk management across the organization, including appointing dedicated ICT risk officers.
  • Training and Awareness: Implementing training programs to enhance awareness and understanding of ICT risks among employees and stakeholders.

Detailed Requirements For ICT Third-Party Service Providers

1. Scope of Regulation

ICT third-party service providers play a crucial role in the digital resilience of financial entities. DORA extends its scope to these providers, recognizing their impact on the overall stability of the financial sector. The regulation applies to a wide range of ICT third-party services, including cloud computing, data analytics, cybersecurity, and software development.

2. Risk Management and Security

ICT third-party service providers must adhere to stringent risk management and security requirements to ensure the resilience of their services. Key provisions include:

  • Risk Assessment and Mitigation: Regularly assessing and mitigating risks associated with the services provided to financial entities.
  • Security Controls: Implementing robust security controls to protect data and ensure the continuity of services.
  • Incident Reporting: Establishing procedures for reporting significant incidents to both the financial entities they serve and relevant competent authorities.
DORA Compliance Framework

3. Contractual Obligations

DORA mandates clear and comprehensive contractual arrangements between financial entities and ICT third-party service providers. These contracts must outline the responsibilities of each party and include provisions for:

  • Compliance with DORA: Ensuring that third-party providers comply with DORA's requirements, including those related to security and incident reporting.
  • Access and Audit Rights: Granting financial entities access and audit rights to assess the third-party provider's compliance with contractual obligations.
  • Termination and Exit Plans: Establishing clear termination and exit plans to ensure continuity of services in case of provider failure or contract termination.

4. Cooperation and Information Sharing

ICT third-party service providers are encouraged to cooperate and share information with financial entities and competent authorities. This includes sharing information on emerging threats, vulnerabilities, and best practices for managing ICT risks. By fostering a collaborative approach, DORA aims to enhance the overall resilience of the financial sector.

Challenges and Considerations

1. Implementation Challenges

Implementing DORA's comprehensive requirements poses significant challenges for both financial entities and ICT third-party service providers. Key challenges include:

  • Resource Constraints: Smaller financial institutions and service providers may face difficulties in allocating the necessary resources for compliance, including skilled personnel and financial investments.
  • Complexity of Compliance: Navigating the detailed and extensive requirements of DORA can be complex, requiring robust internal processes and systems.
  • Coordination with Existing Regulations: Ensuring alignment with other existing regulations and standards, both within the EU and globally, adds an additional layer of complexity.

2. Balancing Security and Innovation

While DORA aims to enhance security, it is essential to strike a balance between stringent requirements and the need for innovation. Overly restrictive measures could stifle innovation and hinder the adoption of new technologies. Regulators must ensure that DORA's provisions are proportionate and do not impose undue burdens on financial entities and service providers.

3. Ensuring Continuous Improvement

The digital landscape is constantly evolving, and so are the threats facing the financial sector. DORA must remain adaptable to address these evolving risks. Continuous review and updating of DORA's provisions, in consultation with stakeholders, will be essential to ensure that the regulatory framework remains relevant and effective.

4. Promoting Cyber Resilience Education

Building a cyber-resilient financial sector requires a skilled workforce with expertise in cybersecurity and ICT risk management. Investing in education and training programs to develop these skills is crucial. Financial institutions, service providers, regulators, and educational institutions must work together to create a talent pipeline that can support the implementation of DORA and enhance the sector's overall cyber resilience.


The Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) is a comprehensive regulatory framework aimed at enhancing the digital resilience of the EU financial sector. By mandating stringent requirements for ICT risk management, incident reporting, testing, and third-party risk management, DORA addresses the critical need for cybersecurity and operational resilience. DORA applies to various financial entities and ICT third-party service providers, ensuring a holistic approach to managing ICT risks. Its proportional and risk-based approach tailors requirements to the size, nature, and risk profile of each entity. Implementing DORA presents challenges but also offers significant benefits, including enhanced financial stability, consumer protection, and innovation. By fostering collaboration and continuous improvement, DORA lays the foundation for a secure and resilient financial sector in the EU. As the digital landscape evolves, DORA guides financial entities and ICT service providers through digital transformation, ensuring high security and resilience standards.

DORA Compliance Framework