Web extra: Critical infrastructure cybersecurity standards coming

New federal and industry standards for critical infrastructure cybersecurity are here or due soon, experts say.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has an ongoing multidisciplinary effort to provide guidance on the application of Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) requirements to industrial control systems, said Keith Stouffer, a mechanical engineer at the Intelligence Systems Division of NIST’s Mechanical Engineering Laboratory. He is also chairman of the Process Control Security Requirements Forum, which has 400 member organizations from 32 countries.

FISMA governs federal information technology security. Industrial control systems are the nervous system for all critical infrastructure and oversee the operation of everything from nuclear power plants to traffic lights.

NIST is developing standards for industrial control systems security for federal and private-sector facilities, Stouffer said. The agency plans to issue an appendix to Special Publication (SP) 800-53, which governs FISMA, by this summer, he said.

The first public draft of a new document, SP 800-82, “Guide to Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition and Industrial Control System Security,” is expected in June, he said.

The power industry has already taken steps toward standardization. The North American Electric Reliability Council, an industry organization, approved eight new cybersecurity standards May 2.

The council will file the standards with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in hopes that they will become industrywide standards, council officials said.

Council standards mitigate the majority of risk of cyberattacks for the facilities that follow them, said Chrisan Herrod, executive consultant for compliance solutions at Scalable Software.

The lack of standards is a main reason why critical infrastructure owners and operators have not implemented cybersecurity measures at their facilities, Stouffer said. Government and industry should share information about security best practices, he added.

The government should provide regulations and incentives for IT security companies to offer better products for control system security, said Jason Larson, senior cybersecurity researcher at the Idaho National Laboratory, which leads federal research into critical infrastructure cybersecurity. Infrastructure owners and product vendors should take security seriously and incorporate dependable security products and procedures, he said.

But most small operators don’t have the money, workforce or expertise to implement IT security for their control systems, said John Sebes, chief technology officer and general manager of the public sector at Solidcore, which develops software that monitors changes to servers and prevents unauthorized code from running on them. They will only get serious about control system security when the federal government and big operators do, he said.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1996, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

  • Shutterstock image.

    Merged IT modernization bill punts on funding

    A House panel approved a new IT modernization bill that appears poised to pass, but key funding questions are left for appropriators.

  • General Frost

    Army wants cyber capability everywhere

    The Army's cyber director said cyber, electronic warfare and information operations must be integrated into warfighters' doctrine and training.

  • Rising Star 2013

    Meet the 2016 Rising Stars

    FCW honors 30 early-career leaders in federal IT.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group