August 13, 2012, 11:15 AM — The Dept. of Energy (DoE) has issued a call for to electric-power companies that encourages them to make cybersecurity a top priority by setting up a cybersecurity governance board to oversee an internal cybersecurity program for protection and share information with the DoE.
In exchange for information about sensitive information, such as identifying network vulnerabilities or attacks, the government will share this benchmarking data thats given to it anonymously with any other utility that participates in the information-sharing.
These ideas, among others, are contained in what the DoE is calling the Electricity Subsector Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model, Version 1.0. This document, a joint effort of dozens of representatives from the government and the U.S. electric industry, is said to be a White House initiative. It calls for electric-power companies to appoint a senior executive for cybersecurity that will report to the companys board.
Senior management doesnt have a very good understanding of their security posture, says Andy Bochman, whose job as IBMs Energy Sector Leader in the IBM Security Systems Division grants him insight into how the whole U.S. power grid works.
Unlike other types of enterprises, many utilities today --whether its their enterprise business side or their industrial-controls systems side--do not have a chief information security officer (CISO) or a chief security officer (CSO) at all, says Bochman. But the evolution of the electric grid, especially as the so-called smart grid takes shape with more interactive information collection and management with consumers, means they need a CISO or CSO more than ever. He says they need an individual acting as a vice president of security who can report directly to the company CEO or board of directors. He adds its better here not to report directly to the CIO but go directly to the top of the company.