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Qatar Calls for ISA 62443 Compliance in Electric & Water Utilities

October 27, 2023

Qatar's National Cyber Security Agency (NCSA) has announced recommendations for electricity and water utilities in the region to implement ISA 62443 standards. This recommendation is part of a broader initiative aimed at enhancing the security of Operational Technology (OT) across the nation.

In a collaborative effort with the General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa), NCSA is promoting the adoption of international best practices and standards. Their guidance is rooted in the ISA/IEC62443 series, endorsing this comprehensive framework of security controls.

The ISA/IEC 62443 standards provide a robust framework designed to address and mitigate the risks and vulnerabilities associated withIndustrial Control Systems (ICS), particularly in the face of escalating cyberthreats. These standards are developed through a global consensus of security experts who contribute to the establishment of new guidelines and technical reports.

The International Society of Automation (ISA) initiated the development of the ISA99 series in 2002, in response to the growing threats toICS cybersecurity. In 2010, the ISA adopted the ANSI/ISA-62443 numbering convention for ISA99 to align with the International ElectrotechnicalCommission (IEC) adoption process for IEC 62443. The ANSI/ISA-62443 and the IEC62443 are identical. ISA/IEC 62443 is a common OT standard in transportation, utilities, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, chemical, healthcare, and higher education.

Qatar's continued focus on enhancing OT security within the electricity and water sector follows a comprehensive assessment of the national cybersecurity landscape, conducted by NCSA in partnership with Kahramaa starting in 2021. This evaluation encompassed numerous electrical power generation and distribution stations across Qatar.

 The ISA/IEC 62443 standard underscores the importance of conducting thorough OT security risk assessments, encouraging periodic reviews, and utilizing the framework of controls to identify and address any existing gaps in cybersecurity. With new technical specifications being implemented in 2023, robust compliance to its standards should be employed.

 ICS asset owners across multiple industries rely on ISA/IEC62443 as a definitive guide for OT cybersecurity, appreciating its role in minimizing cyber risks globally through a well-vetted approach to securing ICS.Additionally, ICS vendors can leverage this standard to certify their products, broadening their acceptance across various applications.

Achieving ISA/IEC 62443 Compliance with IndustrialDefender

Industrial Defender stands out as a leading solution for OT security compliance, catering specifically to operators within critical infrastructure. The platform excels in providing comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date OT asset data, streamlining compliance reporting with ready-to-use assessments for prominent frameworks, including ISA/IEC62443.

The ISA/IEC62443 segments industries based on two factors, Maturity and Security levels. Both of which are based on Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) framework.

Maturity Levels

  • Maturity Level 1 - Initial: Typically, product development is carried out in an ad hoc manner, often without comprehensive documentation.
  • Maturity Level 2 - Managed: Product development is governed by established guidelines. 
  • Maturity Level 3 - Defined (Practiced): Processes are uniformly repeatable across the organization and have been consistently applied, with verifiable evidence of their practice.
  • Maturity Level 4 - Improving: Product suppliers monitor and enhance process effectiveness and performance using relevant metrics, demonstrating ongoing improvement.

Security Levels

  • Security Level 0: No specific security requirements or protective measures are necessary.
  • Security Level 1: Provides protection against unintentional or accidental misuse.
  • Security Level 2: Guards against intentional misuse using basic techniques by individuals with limited resources, general skills, and low motivation.
  • Security Level 3: Protects against deliberate misuse employing more sophisticated methods by individuals with moderate resources, specialized knowledge, and moderate motivation.
  • Security Level 4: Secures against deliberate misuse with highly sophisticated methods by individuals with substantial resources, specialized knowledge, and strong motivation.

With Industrial Defender’s full framework assessment and implementation, electric and water utility companies can better meet ISA 62443 Compliance requirements.

In addition to full framework assessments with audit-ready reporting capabilities, Industrial Defender’s OT asset management capabilities fulfill the foundational security controls that are common across every major cybersecurity standard. This includes in-depth asset inventories of both hardware and software, secure configuration management, vulnerability management, and change management.

In addition to vital endpoint information IndustrialDefender provides historical context and change detection for efficiently andeffectively addressing cyber risks across the OT environment. Customers valueIndustrial Defender as a single source of truth for operational assetinformation and any deviations from golden baselines and compliance states.  

To learn how to achieve and maintain ISA/IEC 62443 compliance:

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