Concepts

Information security risk concepts

What is a “risk”?

  • An acknowledgment of how likely a threat is to leverage a vulnerability, what the potential impacts could be, and what it means to the organization

The goal of “Information Security”

  • to reduce information security risk to the organization
  • to protect confidentiality, availability, and integrity
  • to build trust and confidence from stakeholders (e.g. citizens)

The goal of “risk management”

  • to identify potential problems before they occur
  • so that risk-handling activities may be planned and invoked
  • as needed across the life of the system to mitigate adverse impacts on achieving objectives

The goal of a “risk assessment”

  • snap-shot in time of risks
  • then identify a treatment plan
  • elevate risks to an appropriate person in your organization for review and acceptance of the risks as stated and the treatment plan 
  • and mitigate, remediate, transfer, or avoid the risk(s)
  • log any residual risks to a risk register

How to define a risk statement

  • [HARM] caused by [THREAT] leveraging [VULNERABILITY]

EXAMPLE …

threat-vuln-risk-assesment

How to rate risks

Formula:    Likelihood (L) * Impact (I) = Risk Rating (RR)

Risk rating matrix:

risk rating

What do the different risk rating levels mean?

“Very Low” Risk —> Rating = 1

Risk exists and is tolerable. It should be controlled, and minimal treatment efforts should be maintained. The risk state may not improve over time. These risks do not receive priority attention.

“Low” Risk —> Rating = 2 to 7

Risk exists and is tolerable. It should be controlled, and treatment efforts should be maintained. The risk state may take a long period of time to improve. These risks do not receive priority attention.

“Medium” Risk —> Rating = 8 to 14

Risk should be reduced but may be tolerated if the treatment cost exceeds the cost of the risk’s potential impact.

“High” Risk —> Rating = 15 to 16

Risk should be reduced but may be tolerated for a short period if the cost is prohibitive or the identified treatment would result in other adverse impacts.

“Critical” Risk —> Rating = 17 to 25

Unacceptable risk which cannot be justified except in very special circumstances.  Resources to treat should be made available immediately with little resistance or barriers. Treatment of critical risks should receive priority attention.

Risk rating diagram:

Risk-Rating-overview

How can one understand “likelihood”?

Consideration should be given to the occurrence of already substantiated incidents and known exposures.  This is explained as follows:

incidents-exposure

How can one understand potential “impact”?

Consideration should be given to the harm severity and volume.  This is explained as follows:

severity-volume

What is the different between a Security Threat Risk Assessment (STRA) and a risk register?

stra-venn

Common “threats” to consider

  • Nation State sponsored groups
  • Organized crime groups
  • Amateur criminals
  • Hacktivists
  • Terrorists
  • Disgruntled insiders
  • User or administrator error

 

Common “vulnerabilities” to consider

  • Weak Encryption
  • Buffer Overflows
  • Unvalidated Input
  • SQL Injections
  • Cross Site Scripting (XSS)
  • Broken Authentication
  • Session Management
  • Insecure direct object references
  • Security misconfiguration
  • Cross-site request forgery
  • Race Conditions
  • Insecure File Operations
  • Humans (e.g. Social Engineering)