The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has released new cybersecurity incident notification guidelines, which will go into effect on April 1, 2017.

The document provides guidance to Federal Government departments and agencies; state, local, tribal, and territorial government entities; Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations; and foreign, commercial, and private-sector organizations for submitting incident notifications to the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC)/US-CERT.

The Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA) requires federal Executive Branch civilian agencies to notify and consult with US-CERT regarding information security incidents involving their information and information systems, whether managed by a federal agency, contractor, or other source.

This includes incidents involving control systems, which include supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, distributed control systems (DCS), programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and other types of industrial measurement and control systems. Reporting by entities other than federal Executive Branch civilian agencies is voluntary.

FISMA defines “incident” as “an occurrence that (A) actually or imminently jeopardizes, without lawful authority, the integrity, confidentiality, or availability of information or an information system; or (B) constitutes a violation or imminent threat of violation of law, security policies, security procedures, or acceptable use policies.”

Agencies must report information security incidents, where the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of a federal information system of a civilian, Executive Branch agency is potentially compromised, to the NCCIC/US-CERT with the required data elements, as well as any other available information, within one hour of being identified by the agency’s top-level Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT), Security Operations Center (SOC), or information technology department, according to US-CERT.

Steps 1-7 below are required when notifying US-CERT of an incident:

1. Identify the current level of impact on agency functions or services (Functional Impact).
2. Identify the type of information lost, compromised, or corrupted (Information Impact).
3. Estimate the scope of time and resources needed to recover from the incident (Recoverability).
4. Identify when the activity was first detected.
5. Identify the number of systems, records, and users impacted.
6. Identify the network location of the observed activity.
7. Identify point of contact information for additional follow-up.