Cyber threats to critical infrastructure are increasingly more common as new attack vectors emerge due to the advancements of digital transformation and as cyber criminals become more brazen in their attacks. These intentionally targeted attacks have caused critical infrastructure organizations to take a closer look at their cyber health. However, although many organizations understand they must strengthen their cybersecurity posture, they still struggle when it comes to understanding (much less adhering to) new industry regulations and standards designed to protect their cyber-physical systems (CPS). This is where a cybersecurity framework can help.
What is a Cybersecurity Framework?
Typically, a cybersecurity framework refers to a structured set of guidelines, best practices, and standards that an organization can utilize to enhance their cybersecurity posture. The goal of a cybersecurity framework is to establish a systematic and proactive approach to defending an organization from cyberattacks. This is done by providing a comprehensive approach to identifying, protecting, detecting, responding to, and recovering from cybersecurity threats and incidents. By adhering to a cybersecurity framework, organizations can create a flexible and scalable roadmap for their unique needs and quickly adapt and respond to an evolving threat landscape.
Organizations can also utilize a cybersecurity framework to align their practices with already established industry benchmarks. This will help organizations to adhere with the sometimes difficult-to-understand requirements set forth by industry regulations and standards. A cybersecurity framework can also guide organizations in identifying, assessing, and mitigating cybersecurity risks. By implementing the recommended controls and risk management processes outlined in the cybersecurity frameworks we will discuss below, organizations can also demonstrate their compliance with industry regulations that mandate risk assessment and mitigation. Finally, cybersecurity frameworks promote continuous improvement and ongoing monitoring. This will allow organizations to meet the expectations of industry regulations and standards that emphasize the need for proactive security measures.
What are the Top Cybersecurity Frameworks?
1. NIST Cybersecurity Framework
The NIST cybersecurity framework is a set of guidelines and best practices developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in response to an Executive Order from the U.S. government. The intention of the framework is to help organizations manage and reduce cybersecurity risk. This framework categorizes five core functions — identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover — as a flexible starting point for organizations to improve their cybersecurity awareness and preparedness. It also includes categories and subcategories that provide a more concrete action plan for specific departments or processes within an organization. NIST guidelines are mandatory for U.S. government agencies and any organization doing business with the U.S. government. However, the framework should be adopted by all organizations — both public and private — concerned about their cybersecurity posture. By implementing the NIST framework, organizations can bolster their defenses and mitigate risks by building out the cybersecurity practices and capabilities they need to keep their
operations safe and help them comply with existing industry regulations and standards.
2. ISO/IEC 27001
ISO/IEC 27001 is a globally recognized standard for information security management systems (ISMS). This standard helps critical infrastructure organizations to become risk-aware and to proactively identify and address weakness. With ISO/IEC 27001 critical infrastructure organizations can establish a comprehensive framework for managing and protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive information — including financial data and the personal data of both employees and customers. Much like IEC 62443, ISO/IEC 27001 can help organizations to comply with regulatory requirements, including those set by the DHS and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Overall, by implementing this holistic cybersecurity framework, organizations can protect sensitive data against cyberthreats, and maintain a secure and safe operating environment.
3. ISA/IEC 62443
ISA/IEC 62443 are a series of standards that define requirements and processes for implementing and maintaining electronically secure industrial automation and control systems (IACS). ISA/IEC 62433 standards are a big source of cybersecurity truth for OT networks and industrial control system (ICS) operators. The standard accounts for the technology, work processes, and countermeasures to ensure a holistic approach to secure control systems and take a risk-based approach to OT cybersecurity. ISA/IEC standards set cybersecurity benchmarks for all critical infrastructure sectors that use IACS including building automation, electric power generation and distribution, medical devices, transportation, and process industries such as chemicals and oil and gas. By adopting these standards, organizations can define the risk assessment processes that are critical to protecting their ICS, and determine the level of security required to meet their unique business and risk needs. As a cornerstone for securing OT, following ISA/IEC standards will allow organizations to address existing security gaps and will lead to industry and regulatory compliance.
4. MITRE ATT&CK
The MITRE Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge (ATT&CK) framework is a repository of adversary tactics and techniques reflecting various phases of an adversary attack lifecycle and the platforms they are known to target. The MITRE ATT&CK framework aims to help OT and IT security practitioners alike better understand and describe ICS adversary behavior both pre- and post-compromise. MITRE ATT&CK has three iterations. One for enterprise, focusing on adversarial behavior in Windows, MAC, Linux, and Cloud environments. One for mobile, which focuses on adversarial behavior on iOS and Android operating systems. And, the last for ICS which focuses on describing the actions an adversary may take while operating within an ICS network. This framework is used worldwide across multiple disciplines including intrusion detection, threat hunting, security engineering, threat intelligence, red teaming, and risk management. Ultimately, it provides comprehensive and up-to-date cyberthreat information to organizations looking to strengthen their cybersecurity strategies. The MITRE knowledge base is regularly updated, and inturn, informs the framework, allowing organizations to continuously improve their cybersecurity posture and adhere to industry regulations.
How to Align with the Top Cybersecurity Frameworks and Comply with Industry Regulations
Cybersecurity frameworks can provide a vital foundation for your journey to cyber and operational resilience. However, understanding and aligning with the intricacies of each framework can prove difficult. By working with a CPS security vendor, like Claroty, critical infrastructure organizations can ensure they are implementing the right security controls, monitoring and assessing the effectiveness of these security controls and identifying areas for improvement, and developing and implementing an incident response plan to ensure alignment with their chosen cybersecurity framework. Claroty helps organizations achieve deep visibility into their ICS and OT environments, which is crucial for risk assessment and control implementation as required by the cybersecurity frameworks we have discussed in this blog. Claroty also enables organizations to assess the risks associated with their ICS and OT systems, allowing them to prioritize remediation efforts and implement necessary controls in alignment with cybersecurity frameworks. In addition, Claroty leverages advanced analytics and machine learning techniques for continuous monitoring. This detection capability aligns with the proactive monitoring requirements of many cybersecurity frameworks. Finally, Claroy’s suite of solutions facilitate incident response and mitigation which is essential for adhering to incident management guidelines within cybersecurity frameworks.
By extending robust cybersecurity controls to all CPS — including OT assets, building management systems (BMS), ICS, connected medical devices, and other critical assets — Claroty helps organizations to align with cybersecurity frameworks and comply with industry regulations and standards. This extensive cybersecurity portfolio both supports and simplifies requirements for industry standards and regulations by harnessing and seamlessly integrating with existing IT security tools and workflows, allowing for full coverage and support across all IT and CPS environments. Overall, Claroty empowers organizations to implement cybersecurity frameworks and adhere to regulatory requirements to reduce risk and ensure resilience throughout their entire cybersecurity journey.
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