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Tripwire Inc., a provider of risk-based security and compliance management solutions, has conducted a survey that indicates energy IT professionals are still unclear on the most recent version of North American Electric Reliability Corp.'s (NERC) critical infrastructure protection (CIP) security controls.

Tripwire notes that the online survey was conducted from July through September and evaluated the attitudes of more than 100 IT professionals.

According the company, the survey reveals that 70% of the respondents have a clear understanding of current NERC CIP compliance requirements. However, Tripwire adds, that confidence evaporates in the face of the upcoming version - 62% of respondents said they do not understand the requirements of NERC CIP version 5.

"NERC CIP version 5 represents significant security and compliance changes and will affect most of North America's power and utilities companies," says Jeff Simon, director of service solutions for Tripwire. "Although version 5 has been submitted but not yet approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, power and utility companies still need to understand the impact of the increase in scope and the need for automation. NERC CIP version 5 should already be a key part of their 2014 initiatives."

Additional survey findings include the following:

- 55% are currently preparing to comply with NERC CIP version 5;

- 83% believe NERC CIP version 5 will enhance the security of the bulk electric system;

- 63% collect the majority of evidence needed for NERC CIP compliance audits manually or with limited support from automation; and

- 57% do not have the automation tools in place to efficiently prepare for the next NERC CIP audit.

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