The One Thing your Utility Security Program is Missing...
Jason Christopher, Chief Technology Officer

Ever since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved mandatory cybersecurity standards for the nation’s grid, self-proclaimed gurus and experts have been making a headache of things. The Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards are one of the few compliance requirements that can monetarily penalize asset owners/operators for poor cybersecurity hygiene. And all the cool kids want to be CIP “ninjas.” But how do hiring managers, engineers, or IT peers know that the person they are talking to is really a CIP master?

Late last year, SANS announced a new certification for electric grid stakeholders interested in verifying their CIP chops—the GIAC Critical Infrastructure Protection (GCIP) certification (https://www.giac.org/certification/critical-infrastructure-protection-gcip). The multi-hour exam tests participants on all the necessary knowledge and skills needed to execute a successful utility security program, including:

  • BES Cyber System identification and strategies for lowering their impact rating
  • Nuances of NERC defined terms and CIP standards applicability
  • Strategic implementation approaches for supporting technologies
  • Recurring tasks and strategies for CIP program maintenance

The exam is great for life-long CIP experts and newbies who want to take that next step in their career. Moreover, it covers the entire CIP universe—so you know any GCIP certified personnel will be a well-rounded security professional with an understanding of compliance, technical aptitude, and all the various components to not just be compliant, but to be secure.

The certification is accompanied by a course from SANS, the foremost leader in security training, which I also teach—ICS456: Essentials for NERC CIP (https://www.sans.org/course/essentials-for-nerc-critical-infrastructure-protection). The course is not a prerequisite for taking the certification, but the amount of information we give you over 5 days (and 25 hands-on labs!) will definitely help out any one looking to prove themselves with the GCIP.

The GCIP officially goes live in February, just in time for my next run of ICS456 in Anaheim, CA (https://www.sans.org/event/southern-california-anaheim-2018/course/essentials-for-nerc-critical-infrastructure-protection)!

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Summary

Ever since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved mandatory cybersecurity standards for the nation’s grid, self-proclaimed gurus and experts have been making a headache of things. The Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards are one of the few compliance requirements that can monetarily penalize asset owners/operators for poor cybersecurity hygiene. And all the cool kids want to be CIP “ninjas.” But how do hiring managers, engineers, or IT peers know that the person they are talking to is really a CIP master?