Now Out: @usnistgov Cybersecurity Practice Guide — Identity and Access Management for Electric Utilities

On August 25, 2015, the NIST National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence released an initial draft of the NIST Cybersecurity Practice Guide, “Identity and Access Management for Electric Utilities.  NIST is very much interested in feedback on the document.

From NIST’s summary of the Practice Guide —

The electric power industry is upgrading older, outdated infrastructure to take advantage of emerging technologies, but this also means greater numbers of technologies, devices, and systems connecting to the grid that need protection from physical and cybersecurity attacks. Additionally, many utilities run identity and access management (IdAM) systems that are decentralized and controlled by numerous departments. Several negative outcomes can result from this: an increased risk of attack and service disruption, an inability to identify potential sources of a problem or attack, and a lack of overall traceability and accountability regarding who has access to both critical and noncritical assets.

To help the energy sector address this cybersecurity challenge, security engineeres at the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) developed an example solution that utilities can use to more securely and efficiently manage access to the networked devices and facilities upon which power generation, transmission, and distribution depend. The solution demonstrates a centralized IdAM platform that can provide a comprehensive view of all users within the enterprise across all silos, and the access rights users have been granted, using multiple commercially available products.

Electric utilities can use some or all of the guide to implement a centralized IdAM system using NIST and industry standards, including North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (NERC) Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP). Commercial, standards-based products, like the ones we used, are easily available and interoperable with commonly used information technology infrastructure and investments.

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