Meeting NERC CIP Requirements with a Centralized IRP

The Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) program administered by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) holds Utilities to a broad set of security standards in order to minimize risk to the power grid across North America. NERC CIP standards are comprehensive—encompassing cyber and physical risk management, incident response, and reporting, among other elements—yet they can be ambiguous as to precisely how they should be met.

At D3, we help many of the largest North American Utilities meet their NERC CIP compliance needs with a streamlined and cost-effective solution. In this article, we’ll provide a few examples of how a centralized incident management platform like D3 can help you reinforce your NERC CIP compliance procedures.

Consolidated Management of Security Operations

In order to meet the security standard of NERC CIP, Utilities must be able to effectively manage the sheer volume of moving parts that make up a modern security infrastructure. The only feasible way to handle these overwhelming logistics without massive allocations of manpower is to consolidate the management of your security operations.

A centralized incident management platform like D3 brings all the pieces that make up your security plan into one place. D3 incorporates access control and video management system data to use as evidence or to enrich incident records. Our map interface provides real-time display and two-way communication with guards. For external intelligence, D3 integrates with your choice of 300 different feeds, including weather tracking and local crime reports, to make sure you are prepared for any threats around your facilities.

Consistent Event Response

Centralized incident management isn’t just about aggregating different systems and data sources; it also gives you a consistent standard across facilities. This creates a full picture of risk throughout the organization, which can be leveraged to identify trends and patterns, zero in on problem areas, create scheduled reports, and compile NERC-mandated incident logs to provide to your regulator. As NERC CIP standards evolve, having a consistent system in place will allow you to easily update your processes to keep pace.

Tailored Incident Workflows

NERC CIP requires the implementation of an incident reporting process, including the immediate review and handling of specific incidents, such as unauthorized access attempts. With D3’s incident management platform, your team can use pre-configured workflows for fast and precise incident reporting. Our turnkey workflows include those for NERC-mandated procedures and our report templates can be configured for incidents that may impact your facilities, such as copper theft, vandalism, sabotage, possible terror attacks, and more.

These tailored reports reduce the training and implementation burden of the incident response process, allowing any employee to efficiently navigate the generation of a report.

Turnkey Compliance Reporting

As with any type of compliance, it’s not enough to just follow the regulations; you have to be able to demonstrate evidence of compliance to the regulator. With a centralized incident management platform like D3, you can use turnkey compliance reports as proof of adherence to NERC CIP requirements, such as:

  • Implementation of an incident reporting process
  • Incorporating geographical and time-date data into incident records for automatic classification
  • Establishing response plans, handling procedures, and communications plans
  • Maintaining access logs, including at remote sites

Converged Cyber Security and Situational Awareness

Because the enforceable NERC CIP standards span across cyber and physical security concerns, a system that offers converged management of disparate incident types will greatly reduce the time and energy required to remain compliant.

D3 provides Utilities with a comprehensive solution that encompasses cyber and physical incident response, situational awareness, and compliance workflows. This unification not only streamlines security operations, but also allows for consistent recordkeeping, collaboration, and analysis because the entire process is orchestrated through one system.


Fines for NERC CIP violations might not make front page news the way SEC fines do, but the penalties are substantial. Major fines also appear to be on the rise, with two notable penalties of over $1 million in 2016. The growing danger of cyberattacks is likely the cause of this increased scrutiny, so Utilities cannot afford to be careless in how they integrate cyber security into their overall security operations.

Centralized management greatly reduces the risk of NERC CIP violations—and the fines, reputational damage, and impact on stock prices that follow—because it streamlines the process. Less siloed information and isolated systems means noncompliant practices are noticed faster, and with less manpower required; customized playbooks and reports guide personnel through the entire process, eliminating the vulnerabilities that can be caused by inexperienced employees; and having your incident management on a single platform ensures that the entire record of your compliance program is easily demonstrated to NERC.

Click on the button below to book a demo and learn why major Utilities use D3’s centralized incident management platform to support NERC CIP compliance, connect with security technologies, and apply data-driven decisions across an enterprise-wide vision of cyber security and risk management.

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Walker Banerd

Walker is D3 Security's Director of Content Marketing. He leads the writing of D3's blog, as well as white papers, industry briefings, and other thought leadership. Walker's expertise is translating technical concepts into easily understandable content, with a focus on software, cybersecurity, and compliance solutions.