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ABB and Microsoft help to found cyber-security alliance

23 October, 2019

A new global cyber-security alliance has been established to help companies address OT (operational technology) security risks that could threaten their operations and businesses. The 12 founder members of the Operational Technology Cyber Security Alliance (OTCSA) include ABB, Microsoft, SCADAFence and Wärtsilä.

Until now, say the founders, there has been no industry group focused on reducing cyber-risks by providing architectural, implementation and process guidelines to OT operators, and allowing them to navigate necessary changes, upgrades and integrations to evolving industry standards and regulations.

The new group will offer OT cyber-security guidelines covering the entire lifecycle – procurement, development, deployment, installation, operation, maintenance and decommissioning – and addressing aspects related to people, processes and technology.

OTCSA aims to bridge dangerous gaps in security for critical and OT infrastructure and ICS to support and improve the daily lives of citizens and workers in an evolving world,” says Satish Gannu, ABB’s chief security officer, and senior vice-president of its Architecture and Analytics, and ABB Ability activities. “Industry collaboration to establish guidelines is required to quickly advance the posture of OT, which is already a decade behind IT when it comes to security.”

OTCSA will promote collaboration among IT and OT companies, cyber-security experts, and vendors and OT operators in a wide range of industries. Membership is open to any company that operates critical infrastructure or general OT systems, as well those providing IT and OT systems.

OTCSA has a five-fold mission:

●       to strengthen cyber-physical risk posture of OT environments and interfaces for OT/IT interconnectivity;

●       to help OT operators to protect their OT infrastructure, based on a risk management process and reference architectures/designs which comply with regulations and international standards such as IEC 62443, NERC CIP and NIST 800-53;

OCTSA has issued a White Paper giving the background to its formation and outlining its aims

●       to guide OT suppliers on secure OT system architectures, relevant interfaces and security functionalities;

●       to support the procurement, development, installation, operation, maintenance and implementation of a safer, more secure critical infrastructure; and

●       to accelerate the time to adopt safer, more secure critical infrastructures.

The term OT refers to the hardware and software used to monitor and control equipment such as pumps and valves. Cyber-attacks on these technologies can disrupt operations, affect productivity, cause ecological damage, and compromise safety.

In a survey published earlier this year, 90% of the industrial companies quizzed revealed that there had been at least one security compromise to their infrastructures in the past two years, resulting in the loss of confidential information or disruption to their operations. In another survey, 77% of companies using industrial control systems said they expected to become the target of a cyber-attack involving these systems.

OTCSA has published a White Paper outlining the background to its formation, and its aims.

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