Any cyber attack has the potential of being expensive. Analyzing an attack, understanding what attackers were after, assessing the damage, and other post-attack procedures are all necessary but costly consequences of these kinds of breaches. Cyber attacks on critical infrastructure however, are more than just expensive, they are literally matters of national security.
State Sanctioned Attacks
Security experts believe the recent breach of over 14 million personnel records from the Federal government was perpetrated by Chinese hackers. The massive breach experienced by Sony in late 2014 has been attributed to North Korea.
The point is, a scenario where state-sanctioned cyber attacks on critical infrastructures occur is no longer just hypothetical; it’s a real threat.
The impact of a single critical infrastructure site being compromised cannot be overstated. Just one attack could leave millions of people without power or clean water, for instance. Because of the massive effect cyber attacks on critical infrastructure would have, critical infrastructure protection (CIP) needs to be a top priority of responsible parties.
Fortunately, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has established standards and an auditing process that helps sites identify and resolve any outstanding security issues. Implementing these standards and audits, however, is a bit more complicated.
Critical Infrastructure Security Through NERC CIP Standards
With such a powerful impact on so many people, developing an effective plan for identifying and preventing cyber attacks on critical infrastructure is of the highest importance.
The process of establishing critical infrastructure protection is usually based on the NERC CIP protocols for covered entities. These includes 9 standards and 45 requirements for impact assessment, electronic perimeter security, critical asset protection, and other North American power grid security elements.
Establish Audits to Protect Your Infrastructure from Cyber Attacks
A significant part of securing critical infrastructures is preparing and managing NERC CIP compliance audits. NERC CIP audits entail:
- Documenting critical assets
- Creating definitions for security protocols, then following them
- Developing efficient impact assessment methods
- Establishing a powerful security infrastructure
- Adding accountability and reliability for all security layers
- Holding strong employee security training and awareness
The actual NERC CIP checklist is a bit longer and more detailed. Moreover, these audits must be performed regularly to ensure all NERC CIP standards are followed.
Establishing these audits takes a lot of time, training, and energy. Employees and supervisors must understand what they are responsible for auditing and what to do if a specific item needs to be addressed.
Furthermore, these employees need to understand how to do an audit in the first place. There also needs to be redundancies in place to ensure nothing gets overlooked. Even a seemingly unimportant part of a critical infrastructure could be a backdoor for cyber attackers.
Increasing Critical Infrastructure Security
In addition to audits, critical infrastructure protection requires proper security be put in place as an added layer of safety from breaches. Through implementing secure remote infrastructure monitoring, for example, sites can be protected from security breaches from insecure connections that can be hijacked for nefarious purposes.
Breaches are More Than Expensive, They’re Matters of National Security
Those familiar with critical infrastructure security are familiar with many of the processes above, but that does not make executing an effective security strategy easier. Establishing audits, probing networks for potential vulnerabilities, and other security-related measures all require a significant investment of time and resources.
Rather than attempt to handle this important but difficult work in-house, contact the Patriot team. Our experience protecting our nation’s critical infrastructures from cyber threats means we’re able to quickly and effectively deliver the same protection to your organization.