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November 07, 2012
NERC-CIP V5 Promotes Unidirectional Security Gateway Use

By Calvin Azuri, TMCnet Contributor

Members of the CIP version 5 team recently revealed that the carefully drafted CIP standard, which addresses a notably wider range of cyber-security technologies, both addresses and encourages the use of hardware-enforced Unidirectional Security Gateways.

In a statement, Tim Roxey, NERC's (News - Alert) Chief Cyber security officer, elaborated on the importance of innovative security technologies such as unidirectional gateways, especially when concerning the security of your control networks.

Unidirectional Gateways provide a far more secure alternative to firewalls, which is why they are extensively used in defense-in-depth security designs for the control systems that run power grids. Similar to firewalls, gateways couple control system data sources with business information systems via Electronic Security Perimeters; however the gateways, unlike firewalls, do not produce security risks due to integration. The gateway hardware is "deterministic,” meaning no software misconfiguration can cause the gateway hardware to compromise either the safety or the reliability of industrial servers.

CIP auditors have to heavily deal with hardware-enforced unidirectional communications technologies in their practice, which is why NERC publications tirelessly work to address this issue. The new version of the CIP standard has been written to help reduce both requirement and compliance costs associated with unidirectionally-protected equipment, thanks to the robust security delivered by unidirectional communications, which effectively eliminates the need for secondary protective measures.

This makes it the strongest encouragement provided by the CIP V5 drafting team for a particular security technology. Final versions of the standards will be made available in the coming 3-4 months.

In related VoIP news, Patton (News - Alert) Electronics recently revealed its all-new customer service support system, including its new platinum-level Premium Support and platinum-plus Premium 24/7 Support services, which take the company’s already unparalleled gold-standard free support to an unbelievable new level. Already offering free lifetime technical support is rare in itself, but by working with Patton-Inalp (Switzerland), Patton Electronics (USA) is extending its lifetime technical support with global 24x7 coverage – something that is even rarer in the electronic-telecommunications industry.

To learn more about Patton’s new levels of customer support, click here.

Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

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