Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Trusted CI and OOI Complete Engagement

The Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI, https://oceanobservatories.org/), funded by the NSF OCE Division of Ocean Sciences #1743430, is a science-driven ocean observing network that delivers real-time data from more than 800 instruments to address critical science questions regarding the world’s oceans. OOI data are freely available online to anyone with an Internet connection. 

The OOI provides an exponential increase in the scope and timescale of observations of the world’s oceans. Present and future educators, scientists, and researchers are able to draw conclusions about climatological and environmental processes based on these measurements, requiring the data to be accurate, with a flawless pedigree. As a result, the OOI has a requirement to protect its data from being altered by any external agent.

To this end, OOI-CI (OOI Cyberinfrastructure) solicited a consultation from Trusted CI to evaluate their current security program, along with guidance on reviewing and evaluating potential alternatives for an enhanced security posture. We refined and prioritized OOI’s needs to the following goals: (i) perform a security review of OOI’s cyberinfrastructure using the Trusted CI Security Program Evaluation worksheet, (ii) take steps toward adopting the Trusted CI Framework by developing a “master information security policies and procedures” document (MISPP), (iii) investigate and document missing policies and procedures, including questions and concerns raised by OOI, and unknowns discovered in above exercises, and (iv) provide guidance on creating an asset inventory, applying a control set, and creating and maintaining a risk registry.

The OOI team completed the Trusted CI Security Program Evaluation spreadsheet. This exercise started  the OOI team thinking about and discussing cybersecurity concerns that were raised in the evaluation, both in previously known topics, but also unknown or undefined areas. The Trusted CI team created a list of prioritized recommendations aligned with Framework Musts -- core concepts that every cybersecurity program should have -- that the OOI team can use in addressing or documenting gaps.

We introduced OOI to the Framework and Implementation Guide, and had discussions concerning the Musts, what they entail, and how they apply to and define a mature security program. The OOI team attended the 2021 NSF Cybersecurity Summit and specifically The Framework Workshop, where they were able to benefit from a deeper dive into the Framework and implementation guidance.

OOI displayed a solid grasp of the suggested security program solution, the Trusted CI Framework, and of what needs to be done to adopt it.  Completely adopting the Framework was beyond the scope of this engagement, however OOI focused on (i) developing the top-level Master Information Security Policy & Procedures (MISPP) document, (ii) develop a Cybersecurity Strategic Plan, and (iii) develop supplemental security program policies, e.g., Incident Response Plan, Disaster Recovery, and Acceptable Use Policies. 

In addition to creating top level policy documents, Trusted CI stressed the importance of having an up to date asset inventory as well as selecting and applying a base-line control set. The OOI team began identifying their critical assets as well as selecting CIS v8 as a control set and then aimed to apply controls from Implementation Groups 1 and 2. Trusted CI staff also provided a list of ‘high priority’ controls to focus on that would provide the best ROI for time and resources spent implementing.

We are pleased to announce that OOI is a participant in Trusted CI’s Framework Cohort taking place the first half of 2022 (1H2022). This will allow them to continue their work on creating and refining a mature security program while working with other NSF Major Facilities under the guidance and expertise of Trusted CI’s Framework team. 

The engagement ran from August 16, 2021 to December 31, 2021, and was recorded in the document “OOI / Trusted CI Engagement Final Report” (https://hdl.handle.net/2022/27253).