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Flashcards in CISSP D1 Deck (163):

The DREAD rating system

Prioritization and Response
◾Damage potential—How severe is the damage likely to be if the threat is realized?
◾Reproducibility—How complicated is it for attackers to reproduce the exploit?
◾Exploitability—How hard is it to perform the attack?
◾Affected users—How many users are likely to be affected by the attack (as a percentage)?
◾Discoverability—How hard is it for an attacker to discover the weakness?


decomposition process, you must identify five key concepts RTDIPD

Performing Reduction Analysis
Reduction analysis is also known as decomposing the application

Trust Boundaries Any location where the level of trust or security changes

Data Flow Paths The movement of data between locations

Input Points Locations where external input is received

Privileged Operations Any activity that requires greater privileges than of a standard user account or process, typically required to make system changes or alter security

Details about Security Stance and Approach The declaration of the security policy, security foundations, and security assumptions


Focused on Assets

Identifying Threats
This method uses asset valuation results and attempts to identify threats to the valuable assets. For example, a specific asset can be evaluated to determine if it is susceptible to an attack. If the asset hosts data, access controls can be evaluated to identify threats that can bypass authentication or authorization mechanisms.


Focused on Attackers

Identifying Threats
Some organizations are able to identify potential attackers and can identify the threats they represent based on the attacker’s goals. For example, a government is often able to identify potential attackers and recognize what the attackers want to achieve. They can then use this knowledge to identify and protect their relevant assets. A challenge with this approach is that new attackers can appear that weren’t previously considered a threat.


Focused on Software

Identifying Threats
If an organization develops software, it can consider potential threats against the software. Although organizations didn’t commonly develop their own software years ago, it’s common to do so today. Specifically, most organizations have a web presence, and many create their own web pages. Fancy web pages drive more traffic, but they also require more sophisticated programming and present additional threats.



Secure by Design, Secure by Default, Secure in Deployment and Communication



◾Spoofing—An attack with the goal of gaining access to a target system through the use of a falsified identity. Spoofing can be used against IP addresses, MAC address, usernames, system names, wireless network SSIDs, email addresses, and many other types of logical identification. When an attacker spoofs their identity as a valid or authorized entity, they are often able to bypass filters and blockades against unauthorized access. Once a spoofing attack has successfully granted an attacker access to a target system, subsequent attacks of abuse, data theft, or privilege escalation can be initiated.
◾Tampering—Any action resulting in the unauthorized changes or manipulation of data, whether in transit or in storage. Tampering is used to falsify communications or alter static information. Such attacks are a violation of integrity as well as availability.
◾Repudiation—The ability for a user or attacker to deny having performed an action or activity. Often attackers engage in repudiation attacks in order to maintain plausible deniability so as not to be held accountable for their actions. Repudiation attacks can also result in innocent third parties being blamed for security violations.
◾Information disclosure —The revelation or distribution of private, confidential, or controlled information to external or unauthorized entities. This could include customer identity information, financial information, or proprietary business operation details. Information disclosure can take advantage of system design and implementation mistakes, such as failing to remove debugging code, leaving sample applications and accounts, not sanitizing programming notes from client visible content (such as comments in HTML documents), using hidden form fields, or allowing overly detailed error messages to be shown to users.
◾Denial of service (DoS)—An attack that attempts to prevent authorized use of a resource. This can be done through flaw exploitation, connection overloading, or traffic flooding. A DoS attack does not necessarily result in full interruption to a resource; it could instead reduce throughput or introduce latency in order to hamper productive use of a resource. Although most DoS attacks are temporary and last only as long as the attacker maintains the onslaught, there are some permanent DoS attacks. A permanent DoS attack might involve the destruction of a dataset, the replacement of software with malicious alternatives, or forcing a firmware flash operation that could be interrupted or that installs faulty firmware. Any of these DoS attacks would render a permanently damaged system that is not able to be restored to normal operation with a simple reboot or by waiting out the attackers. A full system repair and backup restoration would be required to recover from a permanent DoS attack.
◾Elevation of privilege—An attack where a limited user account is transformed into an account with greater privileges, powers, and access. This might be accomplished through theft or exploitation of the credentials of a higher-level account, such as that of an administrator or root. It also might be accomplished through a system or application exploit that temporarily or permanently grants additional powers to an otherwise limited account.


When evaluating a third party for your security integration

On-Site Assessment Visit the site of the organization to interview personnel and observe their operating habits.

Document Exchange and Review Investigate the means by which datasets and documentation are exchanged as well as the formal processes by which they perform assessments and reviews.

Process/Policy Review Request copies of their security policies, processes/procedures, and documentation of incidents and responses for review.


Need to skim/look at

◾Improving Cybersecurity and Resilience through Acquisition. Final Report of the Department of Defense and General Services Administration, published November 2013 (
◾NIST Special Publication 800-64 Revision 2: Security Considerations in the System Development Life Cycle (


Understand the CIA Triad elements of confidentiality, integrity, and availability

Confidentiality is the principle that objects are not disclosed to unauthorized subjects. Integrity is the principle that objects retain their veracity and are intentionally modified by only authorized subjects. Availability is the principle that authorized subjects are granted timely and uninterrupted access to objects. Know why these are important, the mechanisms that support them, the attacks that focus on each, and the effective countermeasures.


Be able to explain how identification works.

Identification is the process by which a subject professes an identity and accountability is initiated. A subject must provide an identity to a system to start the process of authentication, authorization, and accountability.


Understand the process of authentication.

Authentication is the process of verifying or testing that a claimed identity is valid. Authentication requires information from the subject that must exactly correspond to the identity indicated.


Know how authorization fits into a security plan

Once a subject is authenticated, its access must be authorized. The process of authorization ensures that the requested activity or object access is possible given the rights and privileges assigned to the authenticated identity.


Understand security governance.

Security governance is the collection of practices related to supporting, defining, and directing the security efforts of an organization.


Be able to explain the auditing process.

Auditing, or monitoring, is the programmatic means by which subjects are held accountable for their actions while authenticated on a system. Auditing is also the process by which unauthorized or abnormal activities are detected on a system. Auditing is needed to detect malicious actions by subjects, attempted intrusions, and system failures and to reconstruct events, provide evidence for prosecution, and produce problem reports and analysis.


Understand the importance of accountability.

An organization’s security policy can be properly enforced only if accountability is maintained. In other words, security can be maintained only if subjects are held accountable for their actions. Effective accountability relies on the capability to prove a subject’s identity and track their activities.


Be able to explain nonrepudiation.

Nonrepudiation ensures that the subject of an activity or event cannot deny that the event occurred. It prevents a subject from claiming not to have sent a message, not to have performed an action, or not to have been the cause of an event.


Understand security management planning.

Security management is based on three types of plans: strategic, tactical, and operational. A strategic plan is a long-term plan that is fairly stable. It defines the organization’s goals, mission, and objectives. The tactical plan is a midterm plan developed to provide more details on accomplishing the goals set forth in the strategic plan. Operational plans are short-term and highly detailed plans based on the strategic and tactical plans.


Know the elements of a formalized security policy structure.

To create a comprehensive security plan, you need the following items in place: security policy, standards, baselines, guidelines, and procedures. Such documentation clearly states security requirements and creates due diligence on the part of the responsible parties.


Understand key security roles.

The primary security roles are senior manager, organizational owner, upper management, security professional, user, data owner, data custodian, and auditor. By creating a security role hierarchy, you limit risk overall.


Know how to implement security awareness training.

Before actual training can take place, awareness of security as a recognized entity must be created for users. Once this is accomplished, training, or teaching employees to perform their work tasks and to comply with the security policy, can begin. All new employees require some level of training so they will be able to comply with all standards, guidelines, and procedures mandated by the security policy. Education is a more detailed endeavor in which students/users learn much more than they actually need to know to perform their work tasks. Education is most often associated with users pursuing certification or seeking job promotion.


Know how layering simplifies security.

Layering is the use of multiple controls in series. Using a multilayered solution allows for numerous controls to guard against threats.


Be able to explain the concept of abstraction

Abstraction is used to collect similar elements into groups, classes, or roles that are assigned security controls, restrictions, or permissions as a collective. It adds efficiency to carrying out a security plan.


Understand data hiding.

Data hiding is exactly what it sounds like: preventing data from being discovered or accessed by a subject. It is often a key element in security controls as well as in programming.


Understand the need for encryption.

Encryption is the art and science of hiding the meaning or intent of a communication from unintended recipients. It can take many forms and be applied to every type of electronic communication, including text, audio, and video files, as well as programs themselves. Encryption is an important element in security controls, especially in regard to the transmission of data between systems.


Be able to explain the concepts of change control and change management.

Change in a secure environment can introduce loopholes, overlaps, missing objects, and oversights that can lead to new vulnerabilities. The only way to maintain security in the face of change is to systematically manage change.


Know why and how data is classified.

Data is classified to simplify the process of assigning security controls to groups of objects rather than to individual objects. The two common classification schemes are government/military and commercial business/private sector. Know the five levels of government/military classification and the four levels of commercial business/private sector classification.


Understand the importance of declassification.

Declassification is required once an asset no longer warrants the protection of its currently assigned classification or sensitivity level.


Know the basics of COBIT

Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT) is a security concept infrastructure used to organize the complex security solutions of companies.


Know the basics of threat modeling.

Threat modeling is the security process where potential threats are identified, categorized, and analyzed. Threat modeling can be performed as a proactive measure during design and development or as a reactive measure once a product has been deployed. Key concepts include assets/attackers/software, STRIDE, diagramming, reduction/decomposing, and DREAD.


Understand the need for security-minded acquisitions.

Integrating cyber security risk management with acquisition strategies and practices is a means to ensure a more robust and successful security strategy in organizations of all sizes. When purchases are made without security considerations, the risks inherent in those products remain throughout their deployment lifespan.


Senior Manager

The organizational owner (senior manager) role is assigned to the person who is ultimately responsible for the security maintained by an organization and who should be most concerned about the protection of its assets. The senior manager must sign off on all policy issues. In fact, all activities must be approved by and signed off on by the senior manager before they can be carried out. There is no effective security policy if the senior manager does not authorize and support it. The senior manager’s endorsement of the security policy indicates the accepted ownership of the implemented security within the organization. The senior manager is the person who will be held liable for the overall success or failure of a security solution and is responsible for exercising due care and due diligence in establishing security for an organization.

Even though senior managers are ultimately responsible for security, they rarely implement security solutions. In most cases, that responsibility is delegated to security professionals within the organization.


Security Professional

The security professional, information security (InfoSec) officer, or computer incident response team (CIRT) role is assigned to a trained and experienced network, systems, and security engineer who is responsible for following the directives mandated by senior management. The security professional has the functional responsibility for security, including writing the security policy and implementing it. The role of security professional can be labeled as an IS/IT function role. The security professional role is often filled by a team that is responsible for designing and implementing security solutions based on the approved security policy. Security professionals are not decision makers; they are implementers. All decisions must be left to the senior manager.


Data Owner

The data owner role is assigned to the person who is responsible for classifying information for placement and protection within the security solution. The data owner is typically a high-level manager who is ultimately responsible for data protection. However, the data owner usually delegates the responsibility of the actual data management tasks to a data custodian.


Data Custodian

The data custodian role is assigned to the user who is responsible for the tasks of implementing the prescribed protection defined by the security policy and senior management. The data custodian performs all activities necessary to provide adequate protection for the CIA Triad (confidentiality, integrity, and availability) of data and to fulfill the requirements and responsibilities delegated from upper management. These activities can include performing and testing backups, validating data integrity, deploying security solutions, and managing data storage based on classification.



The user (end user or operator) role is assigned to any person who has access to the secured system. A user’s access is tied to their work tasks and is limited so they have only enough access to perform the tasks necessary for their job position (the principle of least privilege). Users are responsible for understanding and upholding the security policy of an organization by following prescribed operational procedures and operating within defined security parameters.



An auditor is responsible for reviewing and verifying that the security policy is properly implemented and the derived security solutions are adequate. The auditor role may be assigned to a security professional or a trained user. The auditor produces compliance and effectiveness reports that are reviewed by the senior manager. Issues discovered through these reports are transformed into new directives assigned by the senior manager to security professionals or data custodians. However, the auditor is listed as the last or final role because the auditor needs a source of activity (that is, users or operators working in an environment) to audit or monitor.


Due care

Due Correct
using reasonable care to protect the interests of an organization.
ex is developing a formalized security structure containing a security policy, standards, baselines, guidelines, and procedures.


Due diligence

Due Detect
is practicing the activities that maintain the due care effort.
ex is the continued application of this security structure onto the IT infrastructure of an organization.


Separation of Duties

Separation of duties is the security concept in which critical, significant, and sensitive work tasks are divided among several individual administrators or high-level operators (Figure 2.1). This prevents any one person from having the ability to undermine or subvert vital security mechanisms.

Prevent against collusion, which is the occurrence of negative activity undertaken by two or more people, often for the purposes of fraud, theft, or espionage


Job Responsibilities

pecific work tasks an employee is required to perform on a regular basis. To maintain the greatest security, access should be assigned according to the principle of least privilege.


least privilege

The principle of least privilege states that in a secured environment, users should be granted the minimum amount of access necessary for them to complete their required work tasks or job responsibilities. True application of this principle requires low-level granular access control over all resources and functions


Job Rotation

rotating employees among multiple job positions

Job rotation serves two functions. First, it provides a type of knowledge redundancy. When multiple employees are all capable of performing the work tasks required by several job positions, the organization is less likely to experience serious downtime or loss in productivity if an illness or other incident keeps one or more employees out of work for an extended period of time.

Second, moving personnel around reduces the risk of fraud, data modification, theft, sabotage, and misuse of information. The longer a person works in a specific position, the more likely they are to be assigned additional work tasks and thus expand their privileges and access.

Therefore, job rotation also provides a form of peer auditing and protects against collusion.



When several people work together to perpetrate a crime,


Job descriptions

not used exclusively for the hiring process; they should be maintained throughout the life of the organization. Only through detailed job descriptions can a comparison be made between what a person should be responsible for and what they actually are responsible for. It is a managerial task to ensure that job descriptions overlap as little as possible and that one worker’s responsibilities do not drift or encroach on those of another. Likewise, managers should audit privilege assignments to ensure that workers do not obtain access that is not strictly required for them to accomplish their work tasks.


Employment candidate screening

background checks, reference checks, education verification, and security clearance validation are essential elements in proving that a candidate is adequate, qualified, and trustworthy for a secured position. Background checks include obtaining a candidate’s work and educational history; reference checks; education verification; interviewing colleagues, neighbors, and friends; checking police and government records for arrests or illegal activities; verifying identity through fingerprints, driver’s license, and birth certificate; and holding a personal interview. This process could also include a polygraph test, drug testing, and personality testing/evaluation.Performing online background checks and reviewing the social networking accounts of applicants has become standard practice for many organizations. If a potential employee has posted inappropriate materials to their photo sharing site, social networking biographies, or public instant messaging services, then they are not as attractive a candidate as those who did not. Our actions in the public eye become permanent when they are recorded in text, photo, or video and then posted online. A general picture of a person’s attitude, intelligence, loyalty, common sense, diligence, honesty, respect, consistency, and adherence to social norms and/or corporate culture can be gleaned quickly by viewing a person’s online identity.


nondisclosure agreement (NDA).

NDA is used to protect the confidential information within an organization from being disclosed by a former employee. When a person signs an NDA, they agree not to disclose any information that is defined as confidential to anyone outside the organization. Violations of an NDA are often met with strict penalties.


Noncompete agreement (NCA).

The noncompete agreement attempts to prevent an employee with special knowledge of secrets from one organization from working in a competing organization in order to prevent that second organization from benefiting from the worker’s special knowledge of secrets.Often NCAs have a time limit, such as six months, one year, or even three years. The goal is to allow the original company to maintain its competitive edge by keeping its human resources working for its benefit rather than against it.
◾The threat of a lawsuit because of NCA violations is often sufficient incentive to prevent a worker from violating the terms of secrecy when they seek employment with a new company.
◾If a worker does violate the terms of the NCA, then even without specifically defined consequences being levied by court restrictions, the time and effort, not to mention the cost, of battling the issue in court is a deterrent.


mandatory vacations

A key part of this review process is enforcing MV. In many secured environments, mandatory vacations of one to two weeks are used to audit and verify the work tasks and privileges of employees. The vacation removes the employee from the work environment and places a different worker in their position, which makes it easier to detect abuse, fraud, or negligence on the part of the original employee.


employee must be terminated

A strong relationship between the security department and HR is essential to maintain control and minimize risks during termination.Terminations should take place with at least one witness, preferably a higher-level manager and/or a security guard. Once the employee has been informed of their release, they should be escorted off the premises and not allowed to return to their work area without an escort for any reason. Before the employee is released, all organization-specific identification, access, or security badges as well as cards, keys, and access tokens should be collected (Figure 2.3). Generally, the best time to terminate an employee is at the end of their shift midweek. A early to midweek termination provides the ex-employee with time to file for unemployment and/or start looking for new employment before the weekend. Also, end-of-shift terminations allow the worker to leave with other employees in a more natural departure, thus reducing stress.It should go without saying that in order for the exit interview and safe termination processes to function properly, they must be implemented in the correct order and at the correct time (that is, at the start of the exit interview), as in the following example:
◾Inform the person that they are relieved of their job.
◾Request the return of all access badges, keys, and company equipment.
◾Disable the person’s electronic access to all aspects of the organization.
◾Remind the person about the NDA obligations.
◾Escort the person off the premises.


exit interview

When possible, an exit interview should be performed. However, this typically depends on the mental state of the employee upon release and numerous other factors. If an exit interview is unfeasible immediately upon termination, it should be conducted as soon as possible. The primary purpose of the exit interview is to review the liabilities and restrictions placed on the former employee based on the employment agreement, nondisclosure agreement, and any other security-related documentation.


service-level agreement (SLA)

Vendor, consultant, and contractor controls are used to define the levels of performance, expectation, compensation, and consequences for entities, persons, or organizations that are external to the primary organization

Using any type of third-party service provider, which would include cloud services. The following issues are commonly addressed in SLAs:
◾System uptime (as a percentage of overall operating time)
◾Maximum consecutive downtime (in seconds/minutes/and so on)
◾Peak load
◾Average load
◾Responsibility for diagnostics
◾Failover time (if redundancy is in place)

commonly include financial and other contractual remedies that kick in if the agreement is not maintained



the act of conforming to or adhering to rules, policies, regulations, standards, or requirements. Compliance is an important concern to security governance. Many organizations rely on employee compliance in order to maintain high levels of quality, consistency, efficiency, and cost savings.If employees do not maintain compliance, it could cost the organization in terms of profit, market share, recognition, and reputation. Employees need to be trained in regard to what they need to do; only then can they be held accountable for violations or lacking compliance.



The term is used frequently in numerous contexts without much quantification or qualification. Here are some partial definitions of privacy:
◾Active prevention of unauthorized access to information that is personally identifiable (that is, data points that can be linked directly to a person or organization)
◾Freedom from unauthorized access to information deemed personal or confidential
◾Freedom from being observed, monitored, or examined without consent or knowledge

In most cases, especially when privacy is being violated or restricted, the individuals and companies must be informed; otherwise, you may face legal ramifications. Privacy issues must also be addressed when allowing or restricting personal use of email, retaining email, recording phone conversations, gathering information about surfing or spending habits, and so on.


personally identifiable information (PII).

PII is any data item that can be easily and/or obviously traced back to the person of origin or concern. A phone number, email address, mailing address, social security number, and name are all PII. A MAC address, IP address, OS type, favorite vacation spot, name of high school mascot, and so forth are not typically PII.


legislative and regulatory compliance issues in regard to privacy

Many US regulations—such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act—as well as the EU’s Directive 95/46/EC (aka the Data Protection Directive) and the contractual requirement Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)—include privacy requirements.


Security governance

is the collection of practices related to supporting, defining, and directing the security efforts of an organization. Security governance is closely related to and often intertwined with corporate and IT governance


Third-party governance

system of oversight that may be mandated by law, regulation, industry standards, contractual obligation, or licensing requirements. The actual method of governance may vary, but it generally involves an outside investigator or auditor. These auditors might be designated by a governing body or might be consultants hired by the target organization.Another aspect of third-party governance is the application of security oversight on third parties that your organization relies on. Many organizations choose to outsource various aspects of their business operations. Outsourced operations can include security guards, maintenance, technical support, and accounting services


Documentation review

is the process of reading the exchanged materials and verifying them against standards and expectations. The documentation review is typically performed before any on-site inspection takes place. If the exchanged documentation is sufficient and meets expectations (or at least requirements), then an on-site review will be able to focus on compliance with the stated documentation. However, if the documentation is incomplete, inaccurate, or otherwise insufficient, the on-site review is postponed until the documentation can be updated and corrected. This step is important because if the documentation is not in compliance, chances are the location will not be in compliance either.


Risk management

The primary goal of risk management is to reduce risk to an acceptable level.

a detailed process of identifying factors that could damage or disclose data, evaluating those factors in light of data value and countermeasure cost, and implementing cost-effective solutions for mitigating or reducing risk. The overall process of risk management is used to develop and implement information security strategies. The goal of these strategies is to reduce risk and to support the mission of the organization.


risk analysis

It includes examining an environment for risks, evaluating each threat event as to its likelihood of occurring and the cost of the damage it would cause if it did occur, assessing the cost of various countermeasures for each risk, and creating a cost/benefit report for safeguards to present to upper management.



An asset is anything within an environment that should be protected. It is anything used in a business process or task.If an organization places any value on an item under its control and deems that item important enough to protect, it is labeled an asset for the purposes of risk management and analysis. The loss or disclosure of an asset could result in an overall security compromise, loss of productivity, reduction in profits, additional expenditures, discontinuation of the organization, and numerous intangible consequences


Asset Valuation

Asset valuation is a dollar value assigned to an asset based on actual cost and nonmonetary expenses



Threats are any action or inaction that could cause damage, destruction, alteration, loss, or disclosure of assets or that could block access to or prevent maintenance of assets.


Threat agents

intentionally exploit vulnerabilities. Threat agents are usually people, but they could also be programs, hardware, or systems. Threat events are accidental and intentional exploitations of vulnerabilities. They can also be natural or manmade. Threat events include fire, earthquake, flood, system failure, human error (due to a lack of training or ignorance), and power outage



The weakness in an asset or the absence or the weakness of a safeguard or countermeasure is a vulnerability



Exposure is being susceptible to asset loss because of a threat; there is the possibility that a vulnerability can or will be exploited by a threat agent or event. It just means that if there is a vulnerability and a threat that can exploit it, there is the possibility that a threat event, or potential exposure, can occur.


experienced exposure

the exposure to a realized threat is called



possibility or likelihood that a threat will exploit a vulnerability to cause harm to an asset.

risk = threat * vulnerability



safeguard, or countermeasure, is anything that removes or reduces a vulnerability or protects against one or more specific threats. Safeguards are the only means by which risk is mitigated or removed



An attack is the exploitation of a vulnerability by a threat agent. In other words, an attack is any intentional attempt to exploit a vulnerability of an organization’s security infrastructure to cause damage, loss, or disclosure of assets.



breach is the occurrence of a security mechanism being bypassed or thwarted by a threat agent. When a breach is combined with an attack, a penetration, or intrusion, can result



is the condition in which a threat agent has gained access to an organization’s infrastructure through the circumvention of security controls and is able to directly imperil assets


Risk management/analysis

primarily an exercise for upper management

It is their responsibility to initiate and support risk analysis and assessment by defining the scope and purpose of the endeavor. The actual processes of performing risk analysis are often delegated to security professionals or an evaluation team. However, all risk assessments, results, decisions, and outcomes must be understood and approved by upper management as an element in providing prudent due care.


Quantitative risk analysis

assigns real dollar figures to the loss of an asset

software tools can simplify and automate much of this process.

starts with asset valuation and threat identification Next, you estimate the potential and frequency of each risk. This information is then used to calculate various cost functions that are used to evaluate safeguards.

Inventory assets, and assign a value (asset value, or AV). (Asset value is detailed further in a later section of this chapter named “Asset Valuation.”)
2.Research each asset, and produce a list of all possible threats of each individual asset. For each listed threat, calculate the exposure factor (EF) and single loss expectancy (SLE).
3.Perform a threat analysis to calculate the likelihood of each threat being realized within a single year—that is, the annualized rate of occurrence (ARO).
4.Derive the overall loss potential per threat by calculating the annualized loss expectancy (ALE).
5.Research countermeasures for each threat, and then calculate the changes to ARO and ALE based on an applied countermeasure.
6.Perform a cost/benefit analysis of each countermeasure for each threat for each asset. Select the most appropriate response to each threat.


Qualitative risk analysis

assigns subjective and intangible values to the loss of an asset

more scenario based than it is calculator based

The process of performing qualitative risk analysis involves judgment, intuition, and experience.
You can use many techniques to perform qualitative risk analysis:
◾Delphi technique
◾Focus groups
◾One-on-one meetings


Exposure Factor

The exposure factor (EF) represents the percentage of loss that an organization would experience if a specific asset were violated by a realized risk. The EF can also be called the loss potential.The EF is expressed as a percentage


Single Loss Expectancy

The EF is needed to calculate the SLE. The single loss expectancy (SLE) is the cost associated with a single realized risk against a specific asset.

The SLE is calculated using the following formula:
SLE = asset value (AV) * exposure factor (EF)
or more simply:

The SLE is expressed in a dollar value. For example, if an asset is valued at $200,000 and it has an EF of 45 percent for a specific threat, then the SLE of the threat for that asset is $90,000


Annualized Rate of Occurrence

s the expected frequency with which a specific threat or risk will occur (that is, become realized) within a single year. Calculating the ARO can be complicated. It can be derived from historical records, statistical analysis, or guesswork. ARO calculation is also known as probability determination.


Annualized Loss Expectancy

possible yearly cost of all instances of a specific realized threat against a specific asset.

The ALE is calculated using the following formula:
ALE = single loss expectancy (SLE) * annualized rate of occurrence (ARO)

Or more simply:


ALE with a Safeguard

In addition to determining the annual cost of the safeguard, you must calculate the ALE for the asset if the safeguard is implemented. This requires a new EF and ARO specific to the safeguard. In most cases, the EF to an asset remains the same even with an applied safeguard. (Recall that the EF is the amount of loss incurred if the risk becomes realized.) In other words, if the safeguard fails, how much damage does the asset receive? Think about it this way: If you have on body armor but the body armor fails to prevent a bullet from piercing your heart, you are still experiencing the same damage that would have occurred without the body armor. Thus, if the safeguard fails, the loss on the asset is usually the same as when there is no safeguard. However, some safeguards do reduce the resultant damage even when they fail to fully stop an attack. For example, though a fire might still occur and the facility may be damaged by the fire and the water from the sprinklers, the total damage is likely to be less than having the entire building burn down.

Even if the EF remains the same, a safeguard changes the ARO

With the pre-safeguard ALE and the post-safeguard ALE calculated, there is yet one more value needed to perform a cost/benefit analysis. This additional value is the annual cost of the safeguard.


Calculating Safeguard Cost/Benefit

ALE before safeguard – ALE after implementing the safeguard – annual cost of safeguard (ACS) = value of the safeguard to the company


Quantitative risk analysis formulas

Exposure factor (EF) %
Single loss expectancy (SLE) SLE = AV * EF
Annualized rate of occurrence (ARO) # / year
Annualized loss expectancy (ALE) ALE = SLE * ARO or ALE = AV * EF * ARO
Annual cost of the safeguard (ACS) $ / year
Value or benefit of a safeguard (ALE1 – ALE2) – ACS



description of a single major threat. The description focuses on how a threat would be instigated and what effects its occurrence could have on the organization, the IT infrastructure, and specific assets.


Delphi Technique

Delphi technique is simply an anonymous feedback-and-response process used to enable a group to reach an anonymous consensus. Its primary purpose is to elicit honest and uninfluenced responses from all participants.


Comparison of quantitative and qualitative risk analysis

Characteristic Qualitative Quantitative

Employs complex functions No Yes
Uses cost/benefit analysis No Yes
Results in specific values No Yes
Requires guesswork Yes No
Supports automation No Yes
Involves a high volume of information No Yes
Is objective No Yes
Uses opinions Yes No
Requires significant time and effort No Yes
Offers useful and meaningful results Yes Yes


Risk Mitigation

is the implementation of safeguards and countermeasures to eliminate vulnerabilities or block threats


Risk Assignment

Assigning risk or transferring risk is the placement of the cost of loss a risk represents onto another entity or organization. Purchasing insurance and outsourcing are common forms of assigning or transferring risk.


Risk Acceptance

Accepting risk, or acceptance of risk, is the valuation by management of the cost/benefit analysis of possible safeguards and the determination that the cost of the countermeasure greatly outweighs the possible cost of loss due to a risk. It also means that management has agreed to accept the consequences and the loss if the risk is realized.


Risk tolerance

is the ability of an organization to absorb the losses associated with realized risks. This is also known as risk tolerance or risk appetite.


Risk Rejection

final but unacceptable possible response to risk is to reject or ignore risk. Denying that a risk exists and hoping that it will never be realized are not valid or prudent due-care responses to risk.


residual risk

Once countermeasures are implemented, the risk that remains Once countermeasures are implemented, the risk that remains


formula for total risk

threats * vulnerabilities * asset value = total risk


controls gap

The controls gap is the amount of risk that is reduced by implementing safeguards.


formula for residual risk

total risk – controls gap = residual risk



Technical or logical access involves the hardware or software mechanisms used to manage access and to provide protection for resources and systems.of logical or technical access controls include authentication methods (such as usernames, passwords, smartcards, and biometrics), encryption, constrained interfaces, access control lists, protocols, firewalls, routers, intrusion detection systems (IDSs), and clipping levels.



Administrative access controls
policies and procedures defined by an organization’s security policy and other regulations or requirements. They are sometimes referred to as management controls. These controls focus on personnel and business practices. Examples of administrative access controls include policies, procedures, hiring practices, background checks, data classifications and labeling, security awareness and training efforts, vacation history, reports and reviews, work supervision, personnel controls, and testing.



Physical access controls you can physically touch. They include physical mechanisms deployed to prevent, monitor, or detect direct contact with systems or areas within a facility. Examples of physical access controls include guards, fences, motion detectors, locked doors, sealed windows, lights, cable protection, laptop locks, badges, swipe cards, guard dogs, video cameras, mantraps, and alarms.



deterrent access control
deployed to discourage violation of security policies. Deterrent and preventive controls are similar, but deterrent controls often depend on individuals deciding not to take an unwanted action. In contrast, a preventive control actually blocks the action. Some examples include policies, security-awareness training, locks, fences, security badges, guards, mantraps, and security cameras.



preventive access control
deployed to thwart or stop unwanted or unauthorized activity from occurring. Examples of preventive access controls include fences, locks, biometrics, mantraps, lighting, alarm systems, separation of duties, job rotation, data classification, penetration testing, access-control methods, encryption, auditing, presence of security cameras or CCTV, smartcards, callback procedures, security policies, security-awareness training, antivirus software, firewalls, and intrusion prevention systems (IPSs).



detective access control
A detective access control is deployed to discover or detect unwanted or unauthorized activity. Detective controls operate after the fact and can discover the activity only after it has occurred. Examples of detective access controls include security guards, motion detectors, recording and reviewing of events captured by security cameras or CCTV, job rotation, mandatory vacations, audit trails, honeypots or honeynets, IDSs, violation reports, supervision and reviews of users, and incident investigations.



compensation access control
A compensation access control is deployed to provide various options to other existing controls to aid in enforcement and support of security policies. They can be any controls used in addition to, or in place of, another control. For example, an organizational policy may dictate that all PII must be encrypted. A review discovers that a preventive control is encrypting all PII data in databases, but PII transferred over the network is sent in cleartext. A compensation control can be added to protect the data in transit



A corrective access control

corrective access control modifies the environment to return systems to normal after an unwanted or unauthorized activity has occurred. It attempts to correct any problems that occurred as a result of a security incident. Corrective controls can be simple, such as terminating malicious activity or rebooting a system. They also include antivirus solutions that can remove or quarantine a virus, backup and restore plans to ensure that lost data can be restored, and active IDs that can modify the environment to stop an attack in progress. The access control is deployed to repair or restore resources, functions, and capabilities after a violation of security policies



Recovery controls are an extension of corrective controls but have more advanced or complex abilities. Examples of recovery access controls include backups and restores, fault-tolerant drive systems, system imaging, server clustering, antivirus software, and database or virtual machine shadowing.



A directive access control is deployed to direct, confine, or control the actions of subjects to force or encourage compliance with security policies. Examples of directive access controls include security policy requirements or criteria, posted notifications, escape route exit signs, monitoring, supervision, and procedures.


primary goal of risk analysis

is to ensure that only cost-effective safeguards are deployed

performed to provide upper management with the details necessary to decide which risks should be mitigated, which should be transferred, and which should be accepted.


goal of asset valuation

to assign to an asset a specific dollar value that encompasses tangible costs as well as intangible ones.


Risk reporting

a key task to perform at the conclusion of a risk analysis. Risk reporting involves the production of a risk report and a presentation of that report to the interested/relevant parties.



operationally critical threat, asset, and vulnerability evaluation



factor analysis of information risk



threat agent risk assessment



prerequisite to security training
The goal of creating awareness is to bring security to the forefront and make it a recognized entity for users. Awareness establishes a common baseline or foundation of security understanding across the entire organization and focuses on key or basic topics and issues related to security that all employees must understand and comprehend.

Awareness and training are often provided in-house.



teaching (a skill) employees to perform their work tasks and to comply with the security policy. Training is typically hosted by an organization and is targeted to groups of employees with similar job functions. All new employees require some level of training so they will be able to comply with all standards, guidelines, and procedures mandated by the security policy.

It is considered an administrative security control.

Awareness and training are often provided in-house.



more detailed endeavor in which students/users learn much more than they actually need to know to perform their work tasks. Education is most often associated with users pursuing certification or seeking job promotion.

usually obtained from an external third-party source


security governance team responsibility

is the responsibility of the security governance team to establish security rules as well as provide training and education to further the implementation of those rules.


Know how privacy fits into the realm of IT security.

Know the multiple meanings/definitions of privacy, why it is important to protect, and the issues surrounding it, especially in a work environment.


Be able to discuss third-party governance of security.

Third-party governance is the system of oversight that may be mandated by law, regulation, industry standards, or licensing requirements.


Be able to define overall risk management.

The process of identifying factors that could damage or disclose data, evaluating those factors in light of data value and countermeasure cost, and implementing cost-effective solutions for mitigating or reducing risk is known as risk management. By performing risk management, you lay the foundation for reducing risk overall.


Understand risk analysis and the key elements involved.

Risk analysis is the process by which upper management is provided with details to make decisions about which risks are to be mitigated, which should be transferred, and which should be accepted. To fully evaluate risks and subsequently take the proper precautions, you must analyze the following: assets, asset valuation, threats, vulnerability, exposure, risk, realized risk, safeguards, countermeasures, attacks, and breaches.


Know how to evaluate threats.

Threats can originate from numerous sources, including IT, humans, and nature. Threat assessment should be performed as a team effort to provide the widest range of perspectives. By fully evaluating risks from all angles, you reduce your system’s vulnerability.


Understand quantitative risk analysis

Quantitative risk analysis focuses on hard values and percentages. A complete quantitative analysis is not possible because of intangible aspects of risk. The process involves asset valuation and threat identification and then determining a threat’s potential frequency and the resulting damage; the result is a cost/benefit analysis of safeguards.


Be able to explain the concept of an exposure factor (EF).

An exposure factor is an element of quantitative risk analysis that represents the percentage of loss that an organization would experience if a specific asset were violated by a realized risk. By calculating exposure factors, you are able to implement a sound risk management policy.


Know what single loss expectancy (SLE) is and how to calculate it

SLE is an element of quantitative risk analysis that represents the cost associated with a single realized risk against a specific asset. The formula is SLE =


Understand annualized rate of occurrence (ARO).

ARO is an element of quantitative risk analysis that represents the expected frequency with which a specific threat or risk will occur (in other words, become realized) within a single year. Understanding AROs further enables you to calculate the risk and take proper precautions


Know what annualized loss expectancy (ALE) is and how to calculate it

ALE is an element of quantitative risk analysis that represents the possible yearly cost of all instances of a specific realized threat against a specific asset. The formula is ALE = single loss expectancy (SLE) * annualized rate of occurrence (ARO).


Know the formula for safeguard evaluation.

In addition to determining the annual cost of a safeguard, you must calculate the ALE for the asset if the safeguard is implemented. Use the formula: ALE before safeguard - ALE after implementing the safeguard - annual cost of safeguard = value of the safeguard to the company, or (ALE1 - ALE2) - ACS.


Understand qualitative risk analysis.

Qualitative risk analysis is based more on scenarios than calculations. Exact dollar figures are not assigned to possible losses; instead, threats are ranked on a scale to evaluate their risks, costs, and effects. Such an analysis assists those responsible in creating proper risk management policies.


Understand the Delphi technique.

The Delphi technique is simply an anonymous feedback-and-response process used to arrive at a consensus. Such a consensus gives the responsible parties the opportunity to properly evaluate risks and implement solutions.


Know the options for handling risk.

Reducing risk, or risk mitigation, is the implementation of safeguards and countermeasures. Assigning risk or transferring a risk places the cost of loss a risk represents onto another entity or organization. Purchasing insurance is one form of assigning or transferring risk. Accepting risk means the management has evaluated the cost/benefit analysis of possible safeguards and has determined that the cost of the countermeasure greatly outweighs the possible cost of loss due to a risk. It also means that management has agreed to accept the consequences and the loss if the risk is realized.


Be able to explain total risk, residual risk, and controls gap.

Total risk is the amount of risk an organization would face if no safeguards were implemented. To calculate total risk, use this formula: threats * vulnerabilities * asset value = total risk. Residual risk is the risk that management has chosen to accept rather than mitigate. The difference between total risk and residual risk is the controls gap, which is the amount of risk that is reduced by implementing safeguards. To calculate residual risk, use the following formula: total risk - controls gap = residual risk.


Understand control types.

The term access control refers to a broad range of controls that perform such tasks as ensuring that only authorized users can log on and preventing unauthorized users from gaining access to resources. Control types include preventive, detective, corrective, deterrent, recovery, directive, and compensation. Controls can also be categorized by how they are implemented: administrative, logical, or physical.


Understand the security implications of hiring new employees

To properly plan for security, you must have standards in place for job descriptions, job classification, work tasks, job responsibilities, preventing collusion, candidate screening, background checks, security clearances, employment agreements, and nondisclosure agreements. By deploying such mechanisms, you ensure that new hires are aware of the required security standards, thus protecting your organization’s assets.


Be able to explain separation of duties

Separation of duties is the security concept of dividing critical, significant, sensitive work tasks among several individuals. By separating duties in this manner, you ensure that no one person can compromise system security.


Understand the principle of least privilege.

The principle of least privilege states that in a secured environment, users should be granted the minimum amount of access necessary for them to complete their required work tasks or job responsibilities. By limiting user access only to those items that they need to complete their work tasks, you limit the vulnerability of sensitive information.


Know why job rotation and mandatory vacations are necessary.

Job rotation serves two functions. It provides a type of knowledge redundancy, and moving personnel around reduces the risk of fraud, data modification, theft, sabotage, and misuse of information. Mandatory vacations of one to two weeks are used to audit and verify the work tasks and privileges of employees. This often results in easy detection of abuse, fraud, or negligence.


Understand vendor, consultant, and contractor controls.

Vendor, consultant, and contractor controls are used to define the levels of performance, expectation, compensation, and consequences for entities, persons, or organizations that are external to the primary organization. Often these controls are defined in a document or policy known as a service-level agreement (SLA).


Be able to explain proper termination policies.

A termination policy defines the procedure for terminating employees. It should include items such as always having a witness, disabling the employee’s network access, and performing an exit interview. A termination policy should also include escorting the terminated employee off the premises and requiring the return of security tokens and badges and company property.


Know how to implement security awareness training and education

Before actual training can take place, awareness of security as a recognized entity must be created for users. Once this is accomplished, training, or teaching employees to perform their work tasks and to comply with the security policy can begin. All new employees require some level of training so they will be able to comply with all standards, guidelines, and procedures mandated by the security policy. Education is a more detailed endeavor in which students/users learn much more than they actually need to know to perform their work tasks. Education is most often associated with users pursuing certification or seeking job promotion.


Understand how to manage the security function.

To manage the security function, an organization must implement proper and sufficient security governance. The act of performing a risk assessment to drive the security policy is the clearest and most direct example of management of the security function. This also relates to budget, metrics, resources, information security strategies, and assessing the completeness and effectiveness of the security program.


Know the six steps of the risk management framework.

The six steps of the risk management framework are: Categorize, Select, Implement, Assess, Authorize, and Monitor.


Business continuity planning (BCP)

involves assessing the risks to organizational processes and creating policies, plans, and procedures to minimize the impact those risks might have on the organization if they were to occur. BCP is used to maintain the continuous operation of a business in the event of an emergency situation. The goal of BCP planners is to implement a combination of policies, procedures, and processes such that a potentially disruptive event has as little impact on the business as possible.
The overall goal of BCP is to provide a quick, calm, and efficient response in the event of an emergency and to enhance a company’s ability to recover from a disruptive event promptly. The BCP process, as defined by (ISC)2, has four main steps:
◾Project scope and planning
◾Business impact assessment
◾Continuity planning
◾Approval and implementation


BCP Resource Requirements

BCP Development The BCP team will require some resources to perform the four elements of the BCP process (project scope and planning, business impact assessment, continuity planning, and approval and implementation). It’s more than likely that the major resource consumed by this BCP phase will be effort expended by members of the BCP team and the support staff they call on to assist in the development of the plan.

BCP Testing, Training, and Maintenance The testing, training, and maintenance phases of BCP will require some hardware and software commitments, but once again, the major commitment in this phase will be effort on the part of the employees involved in those activities.

BCP Implementation When a disaster strikes and the BCP team deems it necessary to conduct a full-scale implementation of the business continuity plan, this implementation will require significant resources. This includes a large amount of effort (BCP will likely become the focus of a large part, if not all, of the organization) and the utilization of


business impact assessment (BIA)

The BIA identifies the resources that are critical to an organization’s ongoing viability and the threats posed to those resources. It also assesses the likelihood that each threat will actually occur and the impact those occurrences will have on the business. The results of the BIA provide you with quantitative measures that can help you prioritize the commitment of business continuity resources to the various local, regional, and global risk exposures facing your organization.

Identify Priorities
Risk Identification
Likelihood Assessment
Impact Assessment
Resource Prioritization


first BIA task facing the BCP team

identifying business priorities
The priority identification task, or criticality prioritization, involves creating a comprehensive list of business processes and ranking them in order of importance.



maximum tolerable downtime sometimes also known as maximum tolerable outage (MTO
The MTD is the maximum length of time a business function can be inoperable without causing irreparable harm to the business.



recovery time objective
This is the amount of time in which you think you can feasibly recover the function in the event of a disruption.


goal of the BCP process is to ensure

RTOs are less than your MTDs, resulting in a situation in which a function should never be unavailable beyond the maximum tolerable downtime.



realize that many of your vendor’s customers are probably asking the same question. For this reason, the vendor may have already hired an independent auditing firm to conduct an assessment of their controls.They can make the results of this assessment available to you in the form of a service organization control (SOC) report

The simplest of these, a SOC-1 report, covers only internal controls over financial reporting. If you want to verify the security, privacy, and availability controls, you’ll want to review either an SOC-2 or SOC-3 report. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) sets and maintains the standards surrounding these reports to maintain consistency between auditors from different accounting firms.


exposure factor (EF)

the amount of damage that the risk poses to the asset, expressed as a percentage of the asset’s value
quantitative point of view


single loss expectancy (SLE)

is the monetary loss that is expected each time the risk materializes
quantitative point of view


annualized loss expectancy (ALE)

the monetary loss that the business expects to occur as a result of the risk harming the asset over the course of a year.
quantitative point of view


Continuity Planning of BCP

The first two phases of the BCP process (project scope and planning and the business impact assessment) focus on determining how the BCP process will work and prioritizing the business assets that must be protected against interruption. The next phase of BCP development, continuity planning, focuses on developing and implementing a continuity strategy to minimize the impact realized risks might have on protected assets.

In this section, you’ll learn about the subtasks involved in continuity planning:
◾Strategy development
◾Provisions and processes
◾Plan approval
◾Plan implementation
◾Training and education


four possible responses to a risk

reduce, assign, accept, and reject. Each may be an acceptable response based upon the circumstances.


Three categories of assets must be protected through BCP provisions and processes

people (#1), buildings/facilities, and infrastructure


BCP Documentation

Documentation is a critical step in the business continuity planning process. Committing your BCP methodology to paper provides several important benefits:
◾It ensures that BCP personnel have a written continuity document to reference in the event of an emergency, even if senior BCP team members are not present to guide the effort.
◾It provides a historical record of the BCP process that will be useful to future personnel seeking to both understand the reasoning behind various procedures and implement necessary changes in the plan.
◾It forces the team members to commit their thoughts to paper—a process that often facilitates the identification of flaws in the plan. Having the plan on paper also allows draft documents to be distributed to individuals not on the BCP team for a “sanity check.”

In the following sections, we’ll explore some of the important components of the written business continuity plan.

Continuity Planning Goals
Statement of Importance
Statement of Priorities
Statement of Organizational Responsibility
Statement of Urgency and Timing
Risk Assessment
Risk Acceptance/Mitigation
Vital Records Program
Emergency-Response Guidelines
Testing and Exercises


Understand the four steps of the business continuity planning process.

Business continuity planning (BCP) involves four distinct phases: project scope and planning, business impact assessment, continuity planning, and approval and implementation. Each task contributes to the overall goal of ensuring that business operations continue uninterrupted in the face of an emergency situation.


Describe how to perform the business organization analysis.

In the business organization analysis, the individuals responsible for leading the BCP process determine which departments and individuals have a stake in the business continuity plan. This analysis is used as the foundation for BCP team selection and, after validation by the BCP team, is used to guide the next stages of BCP development.


List the necessary members of the business continuity planning team

The BCP team should contain, at a minimum, representatives from each of the operational and support departments; technical experts from the IT department; security personnel with BCP skills; legal representatives familiar with corporate legal, regulatory, and contractual responsibilities; and representatives from senior management. Additional team members depend on the structure and nature of the organization.


Know the legal and regulatory requirements that face business continuity planners

Business leaders must exercise due diligence to ensure that shareholders’ interests are protected in the event disaster strikes. Some industries are also subject to federal, state, and local regulations that mandate specific BCP procedures. Many businesses also have contractual obligations to their clients that must be met, before and after a disaster.


Explain the steps of the business impact assessment process.

The five steps of the business impact assessment process are identification of priorities, risk identification, likelihood assessment, impact assessment, and resource prioritization.


Describe the process used to develop a continuity strategy.

During the strategy development phase, the BCP team determines which risks will be mitigated. In the provisions and processes phase, mechanisms and procedures that will mitigate the risks are designed. The plan must then be approved by senior management and implemented. Personnel must also receive training on their roles in the BCP process.


Explain the importance of fully documenting an organization’s business continuity plan.

Committing the plan to writing provides the organization with a written record of the procedures to follow when disaster strikes. It prevents the “it’s in my head” syndrome and ensures the orderly progress of events in an emergency.


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