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Understanding IEC 62443: Importance & Compliance

January 13, 2023 by
Understanding IEC 62443: Importance & Compliance
Reza Abdolee

Over the last few years, cybersecurity threats to critical infrastructures have increased. These threats come from various attack vectors, including supply chains, enterprise computing, logistics, remote connections, distributed control systems (DCSs), and smart sensors. While the internet of things (IoT) technology enables greater connectivity and endless applications, it makes the cybersecurity landscape more complex. 

30% of critical infrastructure organizations will experience a security breach by 2025. ~ Gartner

Several industrial cybersecurity standards have evolved that provide critical infrastructure agencies and the industrial sector with security guidelines and best practices to ensure security. Standards, such as the IEC 62433 series, work towards providing a holistic approach to organizational security. 

Let’s explore what IEC 62433 is, its importance, and how we can help you comply with the standard. 

What is IEC 62443?

The ISA/IEC 62443 series of standards is the most comprehensive industrial cyber security standard designed for the industrial and manufacturing sector to help them address their cyber security challenges for industrial automation and control systems (IACS) and OT environments.

The standard is developed by the ISA99 Committee and maintained by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). It provides a cybersecurity framework to secure industrial control systems and networks used in critical infrastructure, such as water treatment facilities, power plants, and manufacturing plants.

The standard provides cybersecurity guidance that includes:

● Defines common terms, concepts, and models that all stakeholders responsible for maintaining control system security can use.

● Helps asset owners discover the security level needed to meet their unique business and risk requirements.

● Establishes requirements and methodology for cybersecurity lifecycle for product developers.

● Defines appropriate risk assessment processes critical to protecting control systems.

Main Elements

The IEC 62443 standard proposed cybersecurity management system (CDMS) has six main elements to implementing IEC 62443 requirements:

● Initiating the CSMS program (which involves information required to get management support)

● High-level risk assessment

● Detailed risk assessment

● Establish security, organization, and awareness policies

● Selecting and implementing security measures

● Maintain the CSMS to ensure its effectiveness and support organizational goals.

Importance of IEC 62443 Standards

Due to the evolution of industrial control systems in terms of digital connectivity, the security of such systems has become critical. While the endless digital connectivity facilitates the implementation of advanced systems and services, it also opens the door for cyber-attacks on OT and ICS environments. 

Also, the critical nature of ICS, which are used to control and monitor industrial processes and infrastructures, makes security crucial for them. Since these systems are vital to the functioning of modern societies and economies, their disruption or compromise can cause serious consequences. 

The IEC 62443 standard is important in protecting ICS, and it helps organizations understand the risks associated with ICS environments and implement appropriate controls to mitigate them. The standard provides guidance for secure ICS design, implementation, operation, and maintenance. 

Benefits of Compliance with IEC 62443

Compliance with the IEC 62443 series of standards can benefit organizations operating industrial control systems (ICS) in the following ways.

  • Improved cybersecurity: Compliance with IEC 62443 standards can help organizations protect their ICS from cyberattacks by implementing security controls and best practices, ensuring ICS' security, availability, integrity, and confidentiality. 
  • Risk management & compliance: Since the standard provides a framework for assessing and mitigating risk, organizations can identify, prioritize and mitigate threats. 
  • Cost-savings: Compliance with the standard ensures significant cost savings, as it helps organizations prevent security breaches, thus reducing the costs of recovering from a breach and fines or penalties due to non-compliance. 
  • Improved incident management: As IEC 62443 provides guidance for incident management from identification to recovery, it helps organizations discover and respond to security incidents quickly. 

Challenges of Achieving & Maintaining Compliance 

While compliance with IEC 62443 provides several benefits to organizations, maintaining it can pose significant challenges. Some of these challenges include:

Lack of Expertise or Resources

Implementing security controls and best practices could be technically complex and tedious. Also, the complex nature of industrial control systems requires extensive knowledge and skills to maintain security and compliance. Organizations may face challenges in acquiring the necessary expertise and exploring resources to implement necessary changes.

Lack of Effective Technology & Support

The unavailability of effective technology and support also makes it challenging to comply with IEC 62443 standard. Most IT departments do not have sufficient support to prioritize risk and compliance processes operationalization. 

Difficulty in Adapting Existing Systems

Industrial control systems are often traditional legacy systems that have been in place for several years and may take time to modify or update. Organizations may find implementing IEC 62443 security requirements challenging while maintaining operations continuity and preventing system downtime.

Ongoing Maintenance & Monitoring

Achieving and maintaining compliance is not a one-time job; it is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and maintenance. Therefore, organizations must be prepared to assess and mitigate new risks to ensure continuous compliance with the standard.

Lack of Guidance and Assurity on Specific Requirements

Since IEC 62443 is a complex series of standards, organizations may find it difficult to interpret and apply industry-specific requirements. Also, it can be challenging for organizations to determine the most appropriate controls and security best practices for their systems.

Simplifying IEC 62443 Compliance with Novesh

Compliance with the IEC 62443 standard is necessary for organizations operating industrial control systems. However, they may face several challenges in ensuring compliance. Organizations can overcome their compliance challenges by building a robust cybersecurity strategy that conducts regular security and risk assessments and work with experts to implement the right solutions. 

A cybersecurity expert like Novesh can help organizations implement the security controls and best practices required by IEC 62443 and maintain compliance over time. Our team of cybersecurity consultants helps you implement risk assessments, monitor threats, and enable prevention to secure your IT, IoT, and ICS/SCADA environments and ensure compliance with regulatory standards, such as IEC 62443, PCI DSS, GDPR, and more.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and protect your sensitive assets by investing in our services.

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