Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity
National Institute of Standards and Technology
The national and economic security of the United States depends on the reliable functioning of critical infrastructure. To strengthen the resilience of this infrastructure, President Obama issued Executive Order 13636 (EO), “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity,” on February 12, 2013.1 This Executive Order calls for the development of a voluntary Cybersecurity Framework (“Framework”) that provides a “prioritized, flexible, repeatable, performance-based, and cost-effective approach” to manage cybersecurity risk for those processes, information, and systems directly involved in the delivery of critical infrastructure services. The Framework, developed in collaboration with industry, provides guidance to an organization on managing cybersecurity risk. Critical infrastructure is defined in the EO as “systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.” Due to the increasing pressures from external and internal threats, organizations responsible for critical infrastructure need to have a consistent and iterative approach to identifying, assessing, and managing cybersecurity risk. This approach is necessary regardless of an organization’s size, threat exposure, or cybersecurity sophistication today. The critical infrastructure community includes public and private owners and operators, and other entities with a role in securing the Nation’s infrastructure. Members of each critical infrastructure sector perform functions that are supported by information technology (IT) and industrial control systems (ICS).2 This reliance on technology, communication, and the interconnectivity of IT and ICS has changed and expanded the potential vulnerabilities and increased potential risk to operations. For example, as ICS and the data produced in ICS operations are increasingly used to deliver critical services and support business decisions, the potential impacts of a cybersecurity incident on an organization’s business, assets, health and safety of individuals, and the environment should be considered. To manage cybersecurity risks, a clear understanding of the organization’s business drivers and security considerations specific to its use of IT and ICS is required. Because each organization’s risk is unique, along with its use of IT and ICS, the tools and methods used to achieve the outcomes described by the Framework will vary. Recognizing the role that the protection of privacy and civil liberties plays in creating greater public trust, the Executive Order requires that the Framework include a methodology to protect individual privacy and civil liberties when critical infrastructure organizations conduct cybersecurity activities. Many organizations already have processes for addressing privacy and civil liberties. The methodology is designed to complement such processes and provide guidance to facilitate privacy risk management consistent with an organization’s approach to cybersecurity risk management. Integrating privacy and cybersecurity can benefit organizations by increasing customer confidence, enabling more standardized sharing of information, and simplifying operations across legal regimes.