New Edition of Pipeline Cybersecurity Standard Covers All Control Systems


The American Petroleum Institute (API) this month published the third edition of its pipeline cybersecurity standard, which focuses on managing cyber risks associated with industrial automation and control environments.

The third edition of Standard 1164, Pipeline Control Systems Cybersecurity, has been in the works since 2017, and it’s based on input from over 70 organizations. The standard is based on NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC CIP) standards.

According to the API, which is the largest trade association for the oil and natural gas industry, this edition covers all control systems, rather than just SCADA systems as the previous edition did.

The new standard describes requirements for hardening pipeline assets against ransomware and other threats. It includes recommendations for protections at critical connection points in the supply chain (i.e. terminals, pipelines and refineries), risk assessment guidance, a model for implementing pipeline security, and a framework for an industrial automation and control security program.

API says the new edition, which can be purchased for $200, can be paired with other standards, such as its Standard 780, which focuses on security risk assessments, and its recommended practices for pipeline safety management systems.

“This standard will help protect the nation’s critical pipeline infrastructure by enhancing safeguards for both digital and operational control systems, improving safety and preventing disruptions along the entire pipeline supply chain,” said Debra Phillips, senior VP of API Global Industry Services. “What sets this framework apart is its adaptive risk assessment model that provides operators with an appropriate degree of flexibility to proactively mitigate against the rapidly evolving cyber threat matrix.”

The new edition of the pipeline cybersecurity standard was published in the wake of the cyberattack that targeted Colonial Pipeline. The ransomware attack that came to light in May caused significant disruption and it prompted the reintroduction of the Pipeline Security Act, a TSA directive ordering pipelines to increase defenses, the DHS requiring pipeline operators to bolster cybersecurity, and other initiatives focusing on critical infrastructure security.

“Industry standards and best practices are paramount in ensuring critical infrastructures and their operations are secured against malicious threats and other vulnerabilities,” cybersecurity firm Trend Micro said on Monday in a blog post commenting on the new edition of the API standard. “With threat actors becoming more sophisticated, government agencies and private enterprises must future-proof their control systems and cybersecurity frameworks to minimize the risk of cyber attacks that could cause them millions of dollars and disruptions.”

Related: US Takes Steps to Protect Electric System From Cyberattacks

Related: Hack Prompts New Security Regulations for US Pipelines

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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