The latest ICS-CERT report includes some analysis of cyber security incidents reported to them in Fiscal Year 2014. Of the 245 incidents reported, 55% were attributed to some form of Advanced Persistent Threat (APT), but overall 38% of the 245 incidents remain unexplained:

 "The majority of incidents were categorized as having an “unknown” access vector. In these instances, the organization was confirmed to be compromised; however, forensic evidence did not point to a method used for intrusion because of a lack of detection and monitoring capabilities within the compromised network"

Nearly 80% of incidents included in the report originate from the Energy Sector - it is impossible to deduce whether this is because the Energy Sector is more heavily targeted by hackers or because security best practices are more poorly adopted within the industry. One other explanation is that energy asset owners are subject to regulatory controls and are compelled to disclose any security incidents, whereas other industry sectors may be choosing to not do so, skewing the figures?

Of course, these same regulatory controls in the form of NERC CIP Version 5 specifically mandate the use of "tools to detect, prevent, deter, and mitigate the introduction, exposure, and propagation of malware on all Cyber Assets within the Electronic Security Perimeter" (NERC CIP-007-3).

Requirement 6 also specifies the need to retain system event logs in order that a full forensic audit trail is available for review if a breach is successful.

What isn't clear from the ICS-CERT report is what the conclusion is? Is the lack of understanding of security incidents due to the sophistication of the cyber attacks being perpetrated so advanced as to evade all defense and detection measures? Or is the more likely explanation just that corners are being cut when implementing Requirements of CIP-007-3, such as file integrity monitoring and breach detection?

Read more about NERC CIP Version 5 compliance

Read the full ICS-CERT 2014 Incidents Report here

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