Monday, May 9, 2011

NERC and NIST Ramp Up Risk Management Collaboration

There are security-related ISO, IEC and IEEE electric grid standards galore, but these are technical standards. I know it's more complicated than this, but I submit that the easiest way to tell regular folks about grid and Smart Grid security standards is to say there are really only two that matter in 2011, and they are:
  • NERC CIPs, version 3
  • NISTIR 7628, version 1
The first covers cyber security protections of only the most critical generation and transmission assets in the bulk electric system (BES) and has little to do with protecting new Smart Grid systems, most of which deploy in the distribution network, far from the BES. The second boldly attempts to describe how to secure the whole enchilada, albeit at a high level. In short, there isn't a heck of lot the two standards/guidance documents have in common.

We've described each ad nauseum on this blog, so let's look at something more soothing. With the next version of the above standards still over the horizon, let's consider the nascent collaborative effort between NERC and NIST, confirmed by language pulled from a draft budget document submitted by an SGSB reader:
... NERC is collaborating with DOE and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop comprehensive cyber security risk management process guidelines for the entire electric grid, including the bulk power and distribution systems. This initiative is particularly important with the increasing availability of smart grid technologies. While the majority of technology associated with the smart grid is found within the distribution system, vulnerabilities realized within the distribution system could potentially impact the bulk power system.
So, it seems that some folks in high places have realized the disconnect, and seek to build a risk management bridge between the CIPs and the NISTIR. This is good news, right? Here's the draft NERC 2012 business plan and budget, if you're into this kind of thing.

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