Mitigating attacks on Industrial Control Systems (ICS); the new Guide from EU Agency ENISA
December 2013 by ENISA
The EU’s cyber security agency ENISA has provided a new manual for better mitigating attacks on Industrial Control Systems (ICS), supporting vital industrial processes primarily in the area of critical information infrastructure (such as the energy and chemical transportation industries) where sufficient knowledge is often lacking. As ICS are now often connected to Internet platforms, extra security preparations have to be taken. This new guide provides the necessary key considerations for a team charged with ICS Computer Emergency Response Capabilities (ICS-CERC).
Industrial Control Systems are indispensable for a number of industrial processes, including energy distribution, water treatment, transportation, as well as chemical, government, defence and food processes. The ICS are lucrative targets for intruders, including criminal groups, foreign intelligence, phishers, spammers or terrorists. Cyber-incidents affecting ICS can have disastrous effects on a country’s economy and on people’s lives. They can cause long power outages, paralyse transports and cause ecological catastrophes. 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. Consequently, ENISA has prepared this guide about good practices for prevention and preparedness for bodies with ICS-CERC and highlights 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.
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 recognised.
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.
The Executive Director of ENISA, Professor Udo Helmbrecht stated: “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.“
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Background: EU Cyber Security Strategy. This guide builds upon earlier ENISA work in the area of CERTs. This guide does not prescribe which Member States entities should be entrusted with ICS-CERC services.