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International Cyber-security Standard Published to Protect Global Critical Infrastructure

The International Instrument Users Association has released a comprehensive cyber-security standard to protect critical industrial computer systems from cyber attack.

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The International Instrument Users Association (WIB,, an international organization that represents global manufacturers in the industrial automation industry, announced on Nov. 9 the second version of the Process Control Domain Security Requirements For Vendors document—said to be the first international standard that outlines a set of specific requirements focusing on cyber-security best practices for suppliers of industrial automation and control systems.

“We are pleased to announce today the second version of our cyber-security standard,” said Alex van Delft, Competence Manager Process Control at DSM and Chairman of the WIB, based in The Hague, The Netherlands. “This is an important step in the ongoing process to improve the reliability of our critical manufacturing and production systems, and provides end-users the ability to now communicate their expectations about the security of process automation, control and safety systems.”  

Hostile world

With industrial networks being increasingly connected to the hostile information technology (IT) world, and the frequency and sophistication of malware growing exponentially, industrial stakeholders must act today to protect their critical systems, the WIB said. Whether it is a targeted attack such as Stuxnet, or an accidental disruption, a single cyber incident can cost millions of dollars in lost revenue, jeopardize employee and public safety and potentially disrupt national critical infrastructure.

“Our increasingly connected production systems are facing a growing threat on a daily basis and we must do all we can to ensure a safe and secure operational environment,” said Peter Kwaspen, Strategy & Development Manager, EMEA Control & Automation Systems at Shell Projects & Technology. “This document provides the common language we need to communicate our expectations around security to our suppliers and the framework to work together to help improve the overall security posture for our critical systems.”

Led by major companies such as Shell, BP, Saudi Aramco, Dow, DuPont, Laborelec, Wintershall and dozens of other end-users, as well as leading vendors such as Invensys and Sensus, and multiple government agencies, the group spent two years developing the requirements and piloting a certification program to ensure a functional, scalable and ultimately valuable result.

“The security requirements outlined in the document went through a year of comments/revisions from over 50 global stakeholders and were subjected to a thorough pilot certification program over the last eight months,” said Jos Menting, cyber-security advisor, GDF Suez Group. “We’ve now come to a truly functional cyber-security standard based on the needs of end-users and it is now up to us, the end-users, to take advantage of this effort and insist that our vendors are certified.”

Mandating conformance

Members of the WIB Plant Security Working group have already started implementing the requirements into their procurement processes and others around the world are heeding the clarion call.

“Shell has mandated conformance to the WIB standard for all vendors supplying systems to be deployed in Shell's process-control environment starting January 01, 2011,” said Ted Angevaare, PACO EMEA Control & Automation Systems Team Leader. “These requirements will become a standard part of the procurement language, saving us a significant amount of time and effort.”

Leading suppliers of industrial process control and automation systems are also starting the process of integrating the requirements into their organizations.

“Adopting the WIB's security requirements ensures that Invensys has a set of measurable practices in place that enforce a safer and more secure critical infrastructure. Not only do the requirements provide current-state measures, they allow us to continue to improve and adapt to the ever-changing security landscape,” said Ernie Rakaczky, program manager for control systems cyber security at Invensys Operations Management. “From our perspective, this program is a major shift, not only focusing on tactics, but one that puts into place strategic elements that address operational change.”

The WIB standard is designed to fit the needs of the end-user—the system owner/operator—and reflects the unique requirements for industries such as oil and gas, electric power, smart grid, transportation, pharmaceutical and chemical. The goal is to address cyber-security best practices and allocate responsibility at the various stages of the industrial system lifecycle: organizational practices, product development, testing and commissioning, and maintenance and support.

“Security is not a one-time application, but rather a process in which every stakeholder must contribute in order to achieve any significant improvement in operational reliability,” said Auke Huistra, project manager at National Infrastructure against Cyber Crime (NICC). “The WIB requirements are designed with this principle at its core and we are encouraging critical infrastructure stakeholders in The Netherlands to integrate the requirements into their cyber security plans.”

The requirements were also constructed to address a broad range of cyber-security topics relevant to industrial stakeholders; from high-level requirements for vendors’ internal security policies, procedures, and governance, to specific requirements concerning access/authentication, data protection, default password protection and patch management. When a vendor's solution complies with this set of requirements, the solution is considered by the WIB to be Process Control Domain Security Compatible.

The requirements are further broken down into three levels designed to reflect various starting points of global suppliers and provide a scalable framework to plan improvements over time. In the program, there are Gold, Silver and Bronze levels, each consisting of a set requirements designed to verify that applicable policies and practices are in place, enabled and practiced by the vendor.

Global cooperation

From the beginning, industry leaders recognized that given the global nature of industrial cyber security, any effort to standardize cyber-security best practices required stakeholder cooperation from different industry sectors and in different regions of the world. The WIB association was the ideal conduit to guide the creation of the standard given its independent nature and membership composition, the group said.

Additionally, the initiative needed to reflect and incorporate the important cyber-security activities happening internationally, so many government agencies, industry working groups and standards bodies were consulted to ensure harmony. For example, major industry standards efforts such as ISA SP99, NIST 800-53, NISTIR 7628 and various international government regulations such as NERC/CIP were reviewed and incorporated where appropriate or expanded to ensure testability. The WIB executive committee has started the process of introducing the WIB PCD requirements into the CEN/CENELEC and IEC international standards framework.

For more information on the WIB Process Control Domain Security Requirements standard visit or to download a copy, please visit or

International Instrument Users Association

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