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Cybersecurity Consulting Services in the World of IoT

As IoT penetrates the fabric of our reality, transforming the way we live by dramatically increasing the efficiency of industry, improving the responsiveness of business, and enhancing the convenience of daily life, the threat posed by cyberattacks is becoming equally pervasive, posing huge risks to business and making it absolutely indispensable that management redouble its efforts to counter these attacks wherever they may strike, including their supply chains. In this paper, we take a look at the consulting services offered by NEC to help our customers implement appropriate security measures (in IT systems, product development, control systems, etc.) in management and manufacturing after making an assessment based on “Cybersecurity Management Guidelines” formulated by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).


As the world becomes ever more dependent on networks, so too does it become ever more vulnerable to cybercrime. Cyberattacks have been steadily increasing year by year, and information security incidents and accidents have become an issue that can directly connect with management because of their potential to temporarily — or even permanently — shut down an organization’s business activities. Given these circumstances, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and Information-technology Promotion Agency (IPA) issued “Cybersecurity Management Guidelines”1)2) Using these guidelines as a foundation, NEC offers its customer comprehensive cybersecurity consulting services, which are outlined in this paper.

2.“Cybersecurity Management Guidelines”

In November 2014, the Basic Act of Cybersecurity was enacted, stipulating the duties of all the entities concerned (state, municipalities, critical infrastructure operators, cyber-related companies, education and research institutions, etc.). In line with this, the government of Japan decided to lay down basic plans (“Cybersecurity Strategy”) regarding cybersecurity. This strategy includes the recommendation that standards and guidelines be implemented according to targets. To address that recommendation, the METI and IPA developed a set of “Cybersecurity Management Guidelines” for the management of private businesses (ver. 1.1 issued in December 2015). These guidelines specify the three cybersecurity-related principles which management needs to recognize and ten important items that the executives responsible should observe (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 Outline of “Cybersecurity Management Guidelines.”

3.Issues of Cybersecurity and NEC’s Commitment

NEC conducted a survey of 200 companies regarding how they were dealing with “Cybersecurity Management Guidelines.” Based on their responses, it is clear that many companies — regardless of annual turnover or business type — suffer from a lack of leadership in this area and are unsure how to build a secure structure or implement the appropriate processes. Of the ten important items listed in the guidelines, those ranked highest were implementation of security measures throughout group companies and supply chains, development of an emergency response system in case of an accident, and acquisition of manpower resources (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Issues highlighted by the results of the questionnaire.

Focusing on the ten important items described in “Cybersecurity Management Guidelines,” all the divisions and departments concerned at NEC Group work together under the leadership of our Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) to improve the information security not only of our in-house environment and that of our partners, but also the systems, services, and products we offer to our customers. In so doing, we endeavor to ensure security in outsourced projects, support secure development and operation, improve the NEC-CSIRT structure to better respond to accidents, and train high-level security manpower through certification and education programs. The knowledge we have gained through our own cybersecurity activities at NEC Group is incorporated in our cybersecurity consulting services.

4.Cybersecurity Consulting Services

In circumstances where cybersecurity is positioned as a critical management issue, NEC offers consulting services to support corporate security (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3 Cybersecurity consulting services.

Our services provide security consultation that covers the following three domains: the IT system domain — which centers around the organization’s information system division, the product development domain, and the control system domain — which is intended for industrial control systems including factories. We also offer an assessment service for “Cybersecurity Management Guidelines” in order to visualize security issues in organizations on an overall basis.

When we conduct an assessment, we propose measures according to the degree of impact of risk by analyzing and evaluating the risk based on the ten important items in “Cybersecurity Management Guidelines.” To analyze and evaluate the risk, we use our original checklist based upon the responses to “Cybersecurity Management Guidelines” at NEC. Solutions derived from this analysis and evaluation include technological solutions and domain-specific support services. We will review some representative domain-specific support services in the following section.

4.1 Services for IT Systems

(1) CSIRT construction/operation support service

NEC launched an in-house CSIRT in 2002 and has had operation results for ten-odd years since then. We have also offered IT systems and operation services to many customers. Based on this technological expertise and know-how, we are able to provide our customers with a service that supports construction and operation of in-house CSIRTs that are designed to be operated by the customer (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4 CSIRT construction/operation support service.

4.2 Services for Product Development

(1) Support service for creation of rules for secure development and establishment of structures for it

To effectively promote secure development and operation, it is important to establish basic policies and trans-divisional rules while constructing structures that examine, deploy, and improve various policies, including these policies and rules. Successful construction of an efficient security structure requires effective communication between all departments concerned (IT division, quality promotion/management division, procurement division, etc.) as well as establishment of working groups to discuss and decide on policies and appointment of staff in charge of the promotion at the divisions. Based on our own promotion know-how at NEC, we support the creation of rules and guidelines for secure development and operation and construction or organizational structures (Fig. 5).

Fig. 5 Support service for creation of secure development rules and establishment of structures.

(2) Support service for construction of PSIRT/vulnerability management processes

To prevent accidents caused by vulnerabilities in products and systems and minimize the impact if there is such an accident, any vulnerabilities found by customers as well as third parties should be immediately addressed. In addition, all vulnerability data — both those that have been publicized and those that have not — is collected and appropriate measures are implemented. Based on NEC’s know-how in construction and operation of a product security incident response team (PSIRT) — a taskforce to cope with vulnerabilities in a company’s products and systems — this service supports the formation of PSIRTs and the construction of management processes for the customer’s products and systems (Fig. 6).

Fig. 6 Support service for construction of PSIRT/vulnerability management processes.

(3) Support service for analysis of threats for products and systems

As more and more devices and systems are converted to IoT, the number of security threats are increasing exponentially. Cases where scenario-based threat analysis for the entire environment of network-connectable devices is performed are more common than ever. To help companies manage risks in this environment, NEC provides a service to help conduct threat analysis, as well as providing training of threat analysis specialists (Fig. 7).

Fig. 7 Support service for analysis of threats for products and systems.

4.3 Services for Control Systems

(1) Control system security assessment service

Based on IEC62443, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, etc., which are the international standards for security of control systems, we locate security risks in terms of both organizational and system aspects, as well as indicate detected risks and propose countermeasure roadmaps.

(2) Control system security consulting service

We also provide security measures that take into consideration the specific environment and available tools. These range from construction of control systems to implementation of each phase until the system is operating successfully, management of contractors, incident detection, and countermeasures when an incident occurs (Fig. 8).

Fig. 8 Concept diagram of a control system and example of security measures.

4.4 Interdisciplinary Services

(1) Support service for enhancing security in outsourcing companies

We support the enhancement of the security of outsourcing companies used by the customer by analyzing the present conditions in accordance with NEC’s experience-based model processes for management of outsourcing companies. We also propose new processes and develop manuals to help our customers deal with the issues they are facing (Fig. 9).

Fig. 9 Support service for enhancing security in outsourcing companies.

(2) Cybersecurity training service

We offer training menus to teach a variety of knowledge and skills — ranging from basic knowledge in information security to expert knowledge to protect information systems from illegal attacks — through lecturers and machine practices. We meet a wide spectrum of needs including specialized requirements such as incident response simulations and malware infection training, as well as generic requirements such as improvement of the security level of the entire organization.


As we have seen, NEC is offering various consulting services that support customers’ security measures by leveraging our know-how — which has been gained through years of experience in our in-house information security measures, operation of CSIRTs, and our commitment to secure development and operation to ensure the security of NEC Group’s products, systems, and services.

We will continue to offer services that help solve problems in cybersecurity management and support the introduction of more sophisticated security measures.


Authors’ Profiles

Senior Manager
Cyber Security Strategy Division

Cyber Security Strategy Division

YAMADA Tomohide
Assistant Manager
Security Engineering Center
Cyber Security Strategy Division