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ENISA Releases Guide for Defending Against Attacks on Industrial Control Systems

The European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), Europe’s cyber security agency, has released a new guide designed to help organizations better mitigate attacks against Industrial Control Systems (ICS).

The European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), Europe’s cyber security agency, has released a new guide designed to help organizations better mitigate attacks against Industrial Control Systems (ICS).

ICS, which often support vital industrial processes in the area of critical infrastructure, are often connected to Internet-facing systems, making it important that high levels of security preparations be taken.

The 43-page document builds upon ENISA’s current practice of CERTs with responsibilities for ICS networks, with the objective to provide advice on building Computer Emergency Response Capabilities for Industrial Control Systems (ICS-CERC).

Furthermore, ENISA’s latest guide aims to support teams that will be entrusted with the provision of ICS-CERC in the EU Member States, and for the governments that consider assigning a mandate for ICS-CERC to a team.

“Cyber-incidents affecting ICS can have disastrous effects on a country’s economy and on people’s lives. They can cause long power outages, paralyze transports and cause ecological catastrophes,” ENISA explained. “Therefore, the ability to respond to and mitigate the impact of ICS incidents is crucial for protecting critical information infrastructure and enhancing cyber-security on a national, European and global level.”

ENISA prepared the guide on good practices for prevention and preparedness for bodies with ICS-CERC and takes into consideration the following conclusions:

• While for traditional ICT systems the main priority is integrity, for ICS systems availability is the highest priority (of the “CIA” scale : Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability.) This has to do with the fact that ICS are indispensable for the seamless operation of critical infrastructure.

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• The main ICS actors sometimes do not have sufficient cyber-security expertise. Likewise, the established CERTs do not necessarily understand sector-specific technical aspects of ICS.

• Given the potential significant damage of ICSs, the hiring process for ICS-CERC teams requires staff to be vetted thoroughly, and consideration should be given to many things, for example, an individual’s ability to perform under pressure and response willingness during non-working hours.

• The importance of cooperation at both the domestic and international level must be recognized.

• The unique challenges of ICS cyber-security services can be mitigated by using identified good practices for CERTs, existing global and European experiences, and better exchange of good practices.

“Until a few decades ago, ICS functioned in discrete, separated environments, but nowadays they are often connected to the Internet. This enables streamlining and automation of industrial processes, but it also increases the risk of exposure to cyber-attacks,” Professor Udo Helmbrecht, Executive Director of ENISA said in a statement.

The full report, Good practice guide for CERTs in the area of Industrial Control Systems, is available here in PDF format. 

Written By

For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.

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