The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said today it’s adding to its Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC) group several private sector firms with expertise in protecting industrial control systems (ICS) and operational technology (OT).

CISA created the JCDC last year as a way for government and industry to collaborate on security issues and drive down cyber risks faced by the Federal government, state and local governments, and the private sector. The group’s first two assignments from CISA Director Jen Easterly were to look at ways to combat ransomware, and to undertake planning to respond to cyber incidents targeting cloud providers.

With some critical infrastructure providers’ ICS/OT systems perceived as a soft spot for cyber adversaries, and with CISA’s recent flurry of warnings for critical infrastructure providers to be on guard against potential cyber assaults from Russia-backed attackers, the move to beef up the ranks of the JCDC appears to fall in line with those concerns.

“Cyber threats to the systems that control and operate the critical infrastructure we rely on every day are among our greatest challenges,” Easterly said today.

“As the destruction or corruption of these control systems could cause grave harm, ensuring their security and resilience must be a collective effort that taps into the innovation, expertise, and ingenuity of the ICS community,” she said. “I’m excited to leverage our evolving JCDC platform to enable us to plan, exercise, and collaborate with industry leaders to drive down risk to the systems and networks we depend on so greatly as a nation.”

New members of the JCDC-ICS effort include:

  • Bechtel;
  • Claroty;
  • Dragos
  • General Electric;
  • Honeywell
  • Nozomi Networks;
  • Schneider Electric;
  • Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories;
  • Siemens; and
  • Xylem.

CISA said that JCDC-ICS “will build on the existing platform of the JCDC by taking advantage of the knowledge, visibility, and capabilities of the ICS community to build plans around the protection and defense of control systems; inform U.S. government guidance on ICS/OT cybersecurity; and contribute to real-time operational fusion across private and public partners in the ICS/OT space.”

Separately, Adam Meyers, senior vice president of intelligence at Crowdstrike – which joined the JCDC when it was formed last year – said, “We are excited to be part of JCDC’s new industrial control systems (ICS) initiative to empower security teams with actionable knowledge and insights to detect and deter cyberattacks across their operational technology (OT) networks.”

“The ICS supply chain has become an increasingly fertile ground for exploitation by today’s attackers,” he said. “Too often, security teams have limited technologies to adequately detect adversaries in their OT networks and can miss attackers lurking within critical infrastructure systems, posing numerous risks and potentially impacting many.”

“Through this new initiative, CrowdStrike and other partner companies will share critical threat intelligence to help break down silos across the public and private sectors, helping to ultimately secure these essential networks,” Meyers said.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.