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Assessing and Reducing Risk - NERC Security Working Group

image credit: NERC Security Working Group (SWG) Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) Self-Assessment Tool Survey
Dan Wagner's picture
Digital Transformation Professional Retired

An Information Security and Risk Management Professional with extensive experience in highly visible positions providing innovative solutions for Digital Transformation, Cloud Security, Privacy...

  • Member since 2021
  • 5 items added with 875 views
  • Oct 21, 2021

The following reference documents were published this year (6/8/2021) after over a year of vetting and collaborative effort by industry volunteers from the RSTC, Security Working Group (SWG), and representatives from NERC and NIST and includes NERC CIP alignments with various frameworks including NIST-CSF and SP800-53 Rev.4, CIS CSC, COBIT, ISA, ISO.  The spreadsheet is meant to be a "Security and Compliance" Self-assessment & Maturity tool for CIP Requirement Owners within Responsible Entity organizations.  One of the goals in developing this tool and framework alignments was to help address questions that members of the group have experienced from practitioners whom where looking for more details on the how and why about technical controls.

The documents and instructions are located on NERC's web site: under 'Technical Reference Documents / Approved Technical Reference Documents'


Executive Summary:

This reference document is comprised of instructions and a risk assessment tool that can help organizations determine their current security and compliance posture. The tool is a Microsoft Excel-based spreadsheet that maps requirements of the CIP Reliability Standards to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework2 (hereafter referred to as “the framework”). It can help a responsible entity identify gaps in their current environment and develop an improvement plan for addressing them.
The instructions and tool were the result of a collaborative effort by industry volunteers from the RSTC, Security Working Group (SWG), and representatives from NERC and NIST. The deliverables associated with the reference document underwent a pilot study with SWG members; their recommendations were incorporated into the final version.


A 'NERC Security Working Group (SWG) Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) Self-Assessment Tool Survey' was also completed (seen in part in the attached image).  

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 21, 2021

Thanks for sharing, Dan. For any utility stakeholders who are lagging behind with considering these frameworks, do you advise this as a document that will get them right up to speed? Or is there a broader primer they should check out before diving into the excel sheet? 

Dan Wagner's picture
Dan Wagner on Oct 21, 2021

It depends on the user; I would have a CIP SME approach this as an opportunity to assess one or more of their current postures on a standard and see if it makes sense.   I would also consider going to the "Implementation Dashboard" tab 'Column D' and looking at the VRF ranking.  This is in worksheet to help entities decide where their greatest risks may be and prioritize which ones they may want to look at first.

As far as a primer the NIST-CSF has lots of primers available and it is included in the worksheet in whole.


I hope that helps, please ask more questions.


Dan Wagner's picture
Thank Dan for the Post!
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