Critical infrastructure regulatory compliance in regard to protecting remote access to unstructured data can be greatly enhanced through the use of zero trust architectures. That is because a zero trust based platform can provide the ability for user authentication, authorization, access control, enablement of monitoring, risk management, encryption, activity logs that can be used in auditing, and data governance.
Critical Infrastructure Regulatory Compliance via Zero Trust Architectures
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Defining Organizations Considered Critical Infrastructure
Critical infrastructure organizations are those that are essential to the functioning of society and the economy, and whose disruption or destruction could have a significant impact on national security, public health and safety, or economic stability. Examples of critical infrastructure organizations can include:
1. Energy sector
- This includes organizations involved in the production, generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity, oil, and natural gas.
2. Transportation sector
- This includes organizations involved in the transportation of people and goods, such as airports, seaports, railroads, and highways.
3. Water and wastewater sector
- This includes organizations involved in the treatment and distribution of drinking water and the collection and treatment of wastewater.
4. Communication sector
- This includes organizations involved in the transmission of information, such as telecommunications providers, internet service providers, and broadcasters.
5. Financial sector
- This includes organizations involved in the management, processing, and storage of financial information, such as banks, stock exchanges, and payment processors.
6. Healthcare sector
- This includes organizations involved in the provision of healthcare services, such as hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies.
7. Emergency services sector
- This includes organizations involved in responding to emergencies, such as police departments, fire departments, and emergency medical services.
8. Food and agriculture sector
- This includes organizations involved in the production, processing and distribution of food and agricultural products.
9. Government facilities sector
- This includes organizations involved in the provision of government services, such as federal, state, and local government buildings and operations.
Critical Infrastructure Regulatory Compliance
Critical infrastructure organizations face unique regulatory challenges in protecting remote access to their unstructured data storage repositories to ensure the security and confidentiality of sensitive information. Some of the key regulations and standards that they may need to consider include:
US-Specific Regulatory Environment
1. Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022 (CIRCI Act)
- The CIRCI Act was signed into law in the United States on March 15, 2022. Under the CIRCI Act, entities that operate critical infrastructure must report any cybersecurity incidents that could result in a catastrophic event, compromise national security, or affect public health or safety. The DHS will then use this information to help identify and respond to emerging cyber threats.
2. NIST SP-800-171
- This standard provides specific security requirements for protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) in non-federal systems and organizations. It covers access control practices, including remote data access, and provides detailed requirements for user authentication, authorization, session management, and network security.
3. Sector-specific regulations and professional standards
- Specific sectors of organizations considered critical infrastructure may have their regulations or professional standards. Examples include the Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community (C3) Voluntary Program, and sector-specific regulations such as the NERC CIP standards for the energy sector, CMMC for military contractors, PCI DSS for organizations that handle personal financial information or the HIPAA regulations for the healthcare sector. Some such as the FAA have specific regulations for the protection of sensitive information in the aviation industry, including information related to air traffic control, air traffic management, and airport security.
4. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)
- This law applies to organizations that handle protected health information (PHI) and provides specific requirements for protecting the confidentiality and security of PHI. It includes requirements for remote access, including user authentication and authorization, and the use of secure communication protocols.
In addition to these regulations and standards, critical infrastructure organizations may also need to consider local, state, and federal laws and regulations.
European Specific Regulatory Environment
Critical infrastructure organizations in the European Union need to consider a range of EU-specific regulations and standards to protect remote access to their unstructured data storage repositories. Some of the key regulations and standards that they may need to consider include:
1. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)
- This EU regulation applies to all organizations operating within the EU and provides specific requirements for protecting the privacy and security of personal data. It includes requirements for remote access, including user authentication and authorization, and the use of secure communication protocols.
2. ISO 27001
- This is an international standard for information security management that provides a comprehensive framework for information security management, including access control practices. It covers a wide range of information security controls and best practices, including risk management, access control, cryptography, and physical security.
3. ENISA (European Union Agency for Cybersecurity)
- ENISA provides guidance and recommendations for cybersecurity in the EU, including guidelines for access control practices for remote data access.
4. Local Data Protection Acts
- Most countries in the EU have privacy laws that outline specific requirements for protecting personal data that apply to all organizations operating within that country.
Critical Infrastructure Regulatory Compliance Using Zero Trust Architectures
Zero trust architecture can play a significant role in helping critical infrastructure regulatory compliance in several ways:
- Zero trust architecture strictly controls access to critical infrastructure systems and applications, allowing only authorized users and devices to access the network. This access control helps organizations comply with regulations that require secure access control mechanisms, such as NIST Cybersecurity Framework and PCI DSS.
- Zero trust architecture enables continuous monitoring of all network traffic and devices, which can help organizations detect and prevent potential security breaches. Continuous monitoring is a requirement for compliance with regulations like HIPAA and PCI DSS.
- Zero trust architecture prioritizes risk management by assessing and evaluating all network devices and users, including privileged users. This helps organizations comply with regulations that require risk management measures, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.
Audit and reporting
- Zero trust architecture provides detailed logs and audit trails, which can help organizations comply with regulations that require audit and reporting, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and PCI DSS.
In summary, zero trust architecture provides a robust security framework that can help critical infrastructure organizations comply with various regulations by providing access control, continuous monitoring, risk management, and audit and reporting capabilities.
How the Zero Trust Architecture of FileFlex Enterprise Aids Critical Infrastructure Regulatory Compliance
The zero trust architecture of FileFlex Enterprise aids critical infrastructure regulatory compliance via:
Secure remote access
- FileFlex Enterprise provides secure remote access to critical infrastructure data, enabling employees, contractors, and partners to securely access unstructured data from anywhere. This secure remote access can help organizations comply with regulations that require secure remote access, such as NIST Cybersecurity Framework and PCI DSS.
- FileFlex Enterprise allows organizations to control access to critical infrastructure unstructured data based on user roles and permissions. This access control helps organizations comply with regulations that require secure access control mechanisms, such as HIPAA and GDPR.
- FileFlex Enterprise enables continuous monitoring of unstructured data access and sharing via the export of the activity log to SIEM software.
- FileFlex Enterprise system places high importance on identifying and mitigating potential risks related to the use of the platform. This involves gathering information about the identity, role, and access rights of all users, as well as, through export to SIEM software, can facilitate the ability to identify anomalous file access and sharing activity. This information is then used to identify potential risks and take appropriate measures to mitigate them. By including privileged users in risk management processes, FileFlex Enterprise also aims to identify any potential risks associated with their access and provide the information needed to take proactive measures to prevent them.
- FileFlex Enterprise encrypts all data in transit, providing an extra layer of security to protect critical infrastructure systems and data. Encryption is a requirement for compliance with regulations like HIPAA and GDPR.
Audit and reporting
- FileFlex Enterprise provides detailed activity logs, which can be used to help organizations comply with regulations that require audit and reporting.
- FileFlex Enterprise provides data governance features that enable organizations to track, manage, and report on data usage and access.
FileFlex Enterprise offers a zero trust architecture solution that can help critical infrastructure organizations protect access to their unstructured data storage repositories and comply with regulatory standards. Critical infrastructure organizations, such as those in the energy, transportation, and healthcare sectors, store vast amounts of unstructured data across various repositories, making it difficult to manage and secure access. Traditional remote access methods like VPNs and RDPs are unreliable and pose security risks, making zero trust architecture a superior solution. FileFlex Enterprise helps harden remote access and sharing of unstructured data, ensuring security and confidentiality. The platform also aids compliance with regulatory standards like CIRCI, NIST SP-800-171, CMMC, HIPAA, PCI DSS, ENISA, ISO 27001, GDPR, and local privacy acts, providing detailed requirements for user authentication, authorization, access control, enablement of monitoring, risk management, encryption, activity logs that can be used in auditing, and data governance. FileFlex Enterprise’s zero trust architecture can help critical infrastructure organizations overcome regulatory compliance challenges and better secure their sensitive unstructured data.
For more details about the security controls important to the protection of critical infrastructure see The Top 8 Critical Infrastructure Security Protections Using Zero Trust Data Access Architecture.