Security Challenges and Our Services

Challenges of NERC CIP Compliance

Complexity and High Costs of Compliance

The NERC Reliability Standards include 94 mandatory sub-standards and over 1,000 individual requirements.  In addition, many of these requirements are constantly changing, and new recommendations are often introduced. This complexity makes efforts towards compliance extremely difficult.

For example, as companies prepare for the transition to the NERC CIP version 5 Standard, they must constantly keep themselves updated on the changes introduced in this new version. Certainly, adopting NERC CIP version 5 implies the redesign and alteration of existing policies and procedures documentation to capture important new requirements and enforce same across the organization. Undoubtedly, this is a laborious and resource-intensive process.

Problems with Manual Processes

Many organizations rely on manual compliance  tracking processes to record audit control assessments, prepare reports, and implement performance measures. Maintaining diverse manual processes complicates compliance preparation, and trying to update multiple spreadsheets, databases, e-mail chains, and content management sites will create an unnecessary burden on manpower and increase costs which will ultimately increase the potential for errors.

Duplication of Compliance Activities

Many companies manage their compliance  tasks and control assessments in functional or organizational silos. As a result, collaboration across the organization  is limited, leading to inconsistencies in compliance data. Again, costs are increased while compliance status metrics are unclear or redundant.

Limited View of Compliance

A clear visibility into NERC compliance data is essential to track the progress of controls and define compliance strategies. Yet, most companies lack true visibility because they lack a unified reporting system and, instead, rely on ad hoc manual processes. Consolidating reports at the enterprise level is a complex and time-consuming task, and viewing  granular data can prove to be extremely difficult. One common erroneous oversight often experienced due to the absence of a holistic view of compliance requirements is that as the compliance activity is a periodic, one-time event as against a culture  of continuous, organization-wide monitoring effort.

Extensive Documentation

To ensure NERC compliance, Responsible Entities have to manage volumes in relevant documentation. From documents accurately interpreting NERC Standards to Reliability Standards Audit Worksheets (RSAWs) to detailed internal policies and technical procedures, the amount of information that must be organized for relevance and applicability across the varying assets under scrutiny makes the task of evidence documentation very arduous and daunting.  It takes significant time and effort to sift through the documentation and find the appropriate controls in order to link these controls to the corresponding compliance standards and requirements putting one’s best foot forward during an audit engagement is the key to success. Bridging the gap between what entities have documented and actually demonstrating proven, tangible evidence of implementation is crucial to passing an audit. Audit evidence must be documented in such a comprehensive manner that it covers mandatory requirements and shows proof that a regulatory control has been thoroughly tested and in place while also being representative of the current operational status of the organizations.

Task Management Complexities

Compliance audits generate a number of tasks that must be assigned to the appropriate Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). These tasks range from internally assessing and monitoring controls to identifying and resolving  issues as soon as they are discovered. Without an integrated and automated task management system, companies face greater difficulties in maintaining a sustainable and closed-loop compliance program.


We are Here to Help

Compliance Management Consulting Services

NKSoft provides NERC CIP compliance consulting services specializing in protection of critical cyber infrastructures used throughout the electrical utility industry. NKSoft has unparallelled experience assisting electrical utilities who seek to assess, build, or maintain their NERC CIP compliance programs.

NERC CIP Version 5 Gap Analysis

NKSoft began conducting NERC CIP Version 5 Gap Analyses since late 2013 and is able to perform a gap assessment under the circumstance of certain aspects of the Version 5 Standards still being subject to change. Our regular attendance at the 2014 SDT 791 meetings has kept us apprised of potential Standard changes and better suits us to perform projections during the Gap Assessment

NERC CIP Compliance Assessment (CIP-002 – CIP-009)

NKSoft has proprietary tool NERCCIPAudit Management build on PMP methodology to help electrical utilities to identify gaps for compliance with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) CIP-002 – CIP-009 Cyber Security Standards. We provide these electrical utilities with a NERC Cyber Security road map that includes prioritized recommendations for risk reduction and compliance to these standards. prepare your organization for their NERC CIP Compliance Audit. Our experts will visit your organization and simulate your NERC CIP Compliance Audit environment in preparation for your audit. Yes, our services include NERC CIP Version 5 as well as NERC CIP Version 3!

NERC CIP Vulnerability Assessment

NKSoft will help you to comply with the NERC CIP Vulnerability Assessment requirements through a time-proven methodology that we have applied to many electrical utilities.

NERC CIP RSAW Development

NKSoft will assist your organization with development of the NERC CIP RSAW’s to prove substantial compliance during your NERC Audit.

NERC CIP-009 Recovery Planning

NKSoft will work with your organization to help you to develop your NERC CIP-009 Recovery Plan.

NERC CIP Compliance Gap Remediation 

Once the NERC CIP Compliance Assessment is complete, NKSoft has the expertise and experience necessary to assist Responsible Entities with both the planning and execution phases of their gap remediation projects. Tasks include: Critical Asset and Critical Cyber Asset Identification, Cyber Security Policy Development,Security Perimeter Design, Access Control Design, and System Security.

NERC CIP Mock Audit

NKSoft will prepare your organization for their NERC CIP Audit. Our experts will visit your organization and simulate your NERC CIP Audit environment in preparation for your audit.

NERC CIP Audit Prep – SME Coaching

NKSoft will with your team to prepare you for an audit. The workshop is performed by trained NERC CIP compliance auditors and helps you to know what to expect during an audit, what to do and not do during an audit.

NERC CIP Culture of Compliance – Security Awareness Program

NKSoft endeavors to invest the time, on-going research and top-level effort into developing a security awareness program that is modular yet well-rounded, specific yet engaging, actionable and ultimately effective.

More Information:

If you are interested in learning more about NKSoft and how our experts may be able to help you overcome your NERC CIP Compliance challenges, please submit a Request Form and we will send you additional information.