Cyber security standards

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Cyber security standards are security standards which enable organizations to practice safe security techniques to minimize the number of successful cyber security attacks. These guides provide general outlines as well as specific techniques for implementing cyber security. For certain specific standards, cyber security certification by an accredited body can be obtained. There are many advantages to obtaining certification including the ability to get cyber security insurance.



Cyber security standards have been created recently because sensitive information is now frequently stored on computers that are attached to the Internet. Also many tasks that were once done by hand are carried out by computer; therefore there is a need for Information Assurance (IA) and security. Cyber security is important in order to guard against identity theft. Businesses also have a need for cyber security because they need to protect their trade secrets, proprietary information, and personally identifiable information (PII) of their customers or employees. The government also has the need to secure its information. One of the most widely used security standards today is ISO/IEC 27002 which started in 1995. This standard consists of two basic parts. BS 7799 part 1 and BS 7799 part 2 both of which were created by (British Standards Institute) BSI. Recently this standard has become ISO 27001. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released several special publications addressing cyber security. Three of these special papers are very relevant to cyber security: the 800-12 titled “Computer Security Handbook;” 800-14 titled “Generally Accepted Principles and Practices for Securing Information Technology;” and the 800-26 titled “Security Self-Assessment Guide for Information Technology Systems”. The International Society of Automation (ISA) developed cyber security standards for industrial automation control systems (IACS) that are broadly applicable across manufacturing industries. The series of ISA industrial cyber security standards are known as ISA-99 and are being expanded to address new areas of concern.

ISO 27002

ISO/IEC 27002 incorporates mainly part 1 of the BS 7799 good security management practice standard. The latest versions of BS7799 is BS7799-3. Sometimes ISO/IEC 27002 is therefore referred to as ISO 17799 or BS 7799 part 1 and sometimes it refers to part 1 and part 7. BS 7799 part 1 provides an outline or good practice guide for cyber security management; whereas BS 7799 part 2 and ISO 27001 are normative and therefore provide a framework for certification. ISO/IEC 27002 is a high level guide to cyber security. It is most beneficial as explanatory guidance for the management of an organisation to obtain certification to the ISO 27001 standard. The certification once obtained lasts three years. Depending on the auditing organisation, no or some intermediate audits may be carried out during the three years. ISO 27001 (ISMS) replaces BS 7799 part 2, but since it is backward compatible any organization working toward BS 7799 part 2 can easily transition to the ISO 27001 certification process. There is also a transitional audit available to make it easier once an organization is BS 7799 part 2-certified for the organization to become ISO 27001-certified. ISO/IEC 27002 states that information security is characterized by integrity, confidentiality, and availability. The ISO/IEC 27002 standard is arranged into eleven control areas; security policy, organizing information security, asset management, human resources security, physical and environmental security, communication and operations, access controls, information systems acquisition/development/maintenance, incident handling, business continuity management, compliance.[1]

Standard of good practice

In the 1990s, the Information Security Forum (ISF) published a comprehensive list of best practices for information security, published as the Standard of Good Practice (SoGP). The ISF continues to update the SoGP every two years; the latest version was published in 2011.

Originally the Standard of Good Practice was a private document available only to ISF members, but the ISF has since made the full document available to the general public at no cost.

Among other programs, the ISF offers its member organizations a comprehensive benchmarking program based on the SoGP. Furthermore, it is important for those in charge of security management to understand and adhere to NERC CIP compliance requirements.


The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has created many standards. The most widely recognized is NERC 1300 which is a modification/update of NERC 1200. The newest version of NERC 1300 is called CIP-002-1 through CIP-009-2 (CIP=Critical Infrastructure Protection). These standards are used to secure bulk electric systems although NERC has created standards within other areas. The bulk electric system standards also provide network security administration while still supporting best practice industry processes. [2]


  1. Special publication 800-12 provides a broad overview of computer security and control areas. It also emphasizes the importance of the security controls and ways to implement them. Initially this document was aimed at the federal government although most practices in this document can be applied to the private sector as well. Specifically it was written for those people in the federal government responsible for handling sensitive systems. [3]
  2. Special publication 800-14 describes common security principles that are used. It provides a high level description of what should be incorporated within a computer security policy. It describes what can be done to improve existing security as well as how to develop a new security practice. Eight principles and fourteen practices are described within this document. [4]
  3. Special publication 800-26 provides advice on how to manage IT security. This document emphasizes the importance of self assessments as well as risk assessments. [5]
  4. Special publication 800-37, updated in 2010 provides a new risk approach: "Guide for Applying the Risk Management Framework to Federal Information Systems"
  5. Special publication 800-53 rev3, "Guide for Assessing the Security Controls in Federal Information Systems", updated in August 2009, specifically addresses the 194 security controls that are applied to a system to make it "more secure."

ISO 15408

This standard develops what is called the “Common Criteria”. It allows many different software applications to be integrated and tested in a secure way.

RFC 2196

RFC 2196 is memorandum published by Internet Engineering Task Force for developing security policies and procedures for information systems connected on the Internet. The RFC 2196 provides a general and broad overview of information security including network security, incident response or security policies. The document is very practical and focusing on day-to-day operations.


ISA99 is the Industrial Automation and Control System Security Committee of the International Society for Automation (ISA). The committee is developing a multi-part series of standards and technical reports on the subject, several of which have been publicly released as American National Standards Institute (ANSI) documents. Work products from the ISA99 committee are also submitted to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) as standards and specifications in the IEC 62443 series.

The numbering and organization of ISA99 work products into categories.
Planned and published ISA99 work products for IACS Security.

All ISA99 standards and technical reports are organized into four general categories. These categories identify the primary target audience for each group (i.e., General, Asset Owner, System Integrator and Component Provider).

  1. The first (top) category includes common or foundational information such as concepts, models and terminology. Also in this category is a work product that will describe security metrics.
  2. The second group of work products targets at the Asset Owner and addresses various aspects of creating and maintaining an effective IACS security program.
  3. The third include work products that describe system design guidance and requirements for the secure integration of control systems. Core in this is the zone and conduit design model.
  4. The fourth category includes work products that describe the specific product development and technical requirements of control system products. This is primarily intended for control product vendors, but can be used by integrator and asset owners for to assist in the procurement of secure products.

There have been a number of changes in the ISA99 numbering scheme to align to the corresponding IEC standards. In the future all work products will be numbered using the convention “ISA-62443.xx.yy”. The previous ISA99 nomenclature will be maintained for continuity purposes.

The specific ISA99 documents are as follows:

Finally, an additional IEC standard is shown (in green) in anticipation of this document being accepted from the WIB organization. This document is NOT a work product of the ISA99 committee.

More information about the activities and plans of the ISA99 committee is available on the committee Wiki site ([7])

ISA Security Compliance Institute

Related to the work of ISA 99 is the work of the ISA Security Compliance Institute. The ISA Security Compliance Institute (ISCI) has developed compliance test specifications for ISA99 and other control system security standards. They have also created an ANSI accredited certification program called ISASecure for the certification of industrial automation devices such as programmable logic controllers (PLC), distributed control systems (DCS) and safety instrumented systems (SIS). These types of devices provided automated control of industrial processes such as those found in the oil & gas, chemical, electric utility, manufacturing, food & beverage and water/wastewater processing industries. There is growing concern from both governments as well as private industry regarding the risk that these systems could be intentionally compromised by "evildoers" such as hackers, disgruntled employees, organized criminals, terrorist organizations or even state-sponsored groups. The recent news about the industrial control system malware known as Stuxnet has heightened concerns about the vulnerability of these systems.

See also


  1. ^ 1.Department of Homeland Security, A Comparison of Cyber Security Standards Developed by the Oil and Gas Segment. (November 5, 2004)
  2. ^ 2.Guttman, M., Swanson, M., National Institute of Standards and Technology; Technology Administration; U.S. Department of Commerce., Generally Accepted Principles and Practices for Securing Information Technology Systems (800-14). (September 1996)
  3. ^ 3.National Institute of Standards and Technology; Technology Administration; U.S. Department of Commerce., An Introduction to Computer Security: The NIST Handbook, Special Publication 800-12.
  4. ^ 4.Swanson, M., National Institute of Standards and Technology; Technology Administration; U.S. Department of Commerce., Security Self-Assessment Guide for Information Technology Systems (800-26).
  5. ^ 5.The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC). Retrieved November 12, 2005.

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