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Chapter: Information Security : Security Investigation

Risk Identification

IT professionals to know their organization’s information assets through identifying, classifying and prioritizing them.



- IT professionals to know their organization’s information assets through identifying, classifying and prioritizing them.

- Assets are the targets of various threats and threat agents, and the goal is to protect the assets from the threats.

- Once the organizational assets have been identified, a threat identification process is undertaken.

- The circumstances and settings of each information asset are examined to identify vulnerabilities.

- When vulnerabilities are found, controls are identified and assessed as to their capability to limit possible losses in the eventuality of attack.

- The process of Risk Identification begins with the identification of the organization’s information assets and an assessment of their value.

- The Components of this process are shown in figure



1 Asset Identification & Valuation


ü Includes all the elements of an organization’s system, such as people, procedures, data and information, software, hardware, and networking elements.

ü Then, you classify and categorize the assets, adding details.



1.1 Components of Information System




Table Categorization of IT Components





ü People include employees and nonemployees. There are two categories of employees: those who hold trusted roles and have correspondingly greater authority and accountability, and other staff who have assignments without special privileges. Nonemployees include contractors and consultants, members of other organizations with which the organization has a trust relationship, and strangers.

ü Procedures fall into two categories: IT and business standard procedures, and IT and business sensitive procedures. The business sensitive procedures are those that may assist a threat agent in crafting an attack against the organization or that have some other content or feature that may introduce risk to the organization.

ü Data Components have been expanded to account for the management of information in all stages: Transmission, Processing, and Storage.

ü Software Components can be assigned to one of three categories: Applications, Operating Systems, or security components. Software Components that provide security controls may span the range of operating systems and applications categories, but are differentiated by the fact that they are the part of the information security control environment and must be protected more thoroughly than other system components.

ü Hardware is assigned to one of two categories: the usual systems devices and their peripherals, and the devices that are part of information security control systems. The latter must be protected more thoroughly than the former.


1.2 People, Procedures,& Data Asset Identification


ü People : Position name/number/ID: Supervisor; Security clearance level; special skills. ü Procedures : Description/intended purpose/relationship to software / hardware and

networking elements; storage location for update; storage location for reference.


ü Data : Classification; owner; Creator; Manager; Size of data structure; data structure used; online/offline/location/backup procedures employed.


1.3 Hardware, Software, and Network Asset Identification


Depends on the needs of the organization and its risk management efforts.


3.2.6    Name: Should adopt naming standards that do not convey information to potential system attackers.


3.2.7   IP address: Useful for network devices & Servers. Many organizations use the dynamic host control protocol (DHCP) within TCP/IP that reassigns IP numbers to devices as needed, making the use of IP numbers as part of the asset identification process problematic. IP address use in inventory is usually limited to those devices that use static IP addresses.


3.2.8   Media Access Control (MAC) address: Electronic serial numbers or hardware addresses. All network interface hardware devices have a unique number. The MAC

address number is used by the network operating system as a means to identify a specific network device. It is used by the client’s network software to recognize traffic that it must



3.3.0   Element Type: Document the function of each Element by listing its type. For hardware, a list of possible element types, such as servers, desktops, networking devices or test equipment.


One server might be listed as


ü     Device class= S (Server)

ü     Device OS= W2K ( Windows 2000)

ü     Device Capacity = AS ( Advanced Server )


3.3.2   Serial Number: For hardware devices, the serial number can uniquely identify a specific device.


3.3.3   Manufacturer Name: Record the manufacturer of the device or software component. This can be useful when responding to incidents that involve these devices or when certain manufacturers announce specific vulnerabilities.


3.3.4   Manufacturer’s Model No or Part No: Record the model or part number of the element. This record of exactly what the element is can be very useful in later analysis of vulnerabilities, because some vulnerability instances only apply to specific models of certain devices and software components.


3.3.5    Software Version, Update revision, or FCO number: Document the specific software or firmware revision number and, for hardware devices, the current field change order (FCO) number. An FCO is an authorization issued by an organization for the repair, modification, or update of a piece of equipment. Documenting the revision number and FCO is particularly important for networking devices that function mainly through the software running on them. For example, firewall devices often have three versions: an operating system (OS) version, a software version, and a basic input/output system (BIOS) firmware version.


3.3.6    Physical location: Note where this element is located physically (Hardware)


3.3.7   Logical Location: Note where this element can be found on the organization’s network.


The logical location is most useful for networking devices and indicates the logical network where the device is connected.

Controlling Entity: Identify which organizational unit controls the element.

1.4 Automated Risk Management Tools


ü Automated tools identify the system elements that make up the hardware, software, & network components.


ü Many organizations use automated asset inventory systems.


ü The inventory listing is usually available in a data base.


ü Once stored, the inventory listing must be kept current, often by means of a tool that periodically refreshes the data.


2 Information Asset Classification


ü In addition to the categories, it is advisable to add another dimension to represent the sensitivity & Security priority of the data and the devices that store, transmit & process the data.


ü Eg: Kinds of classifications are confidential data, internal data and public data.


3 Information Asset Valuation


ü As each asset is assigned to its category, posing a number of questions assists in developing the weighting criteria to be used for information asset valuation or impact evaluation. Before beginning the inventory process, the organization should determine which criteria can best be used to establish the value of the information assets. Among the criteria to be considered are:


            Which information Asset is the most critical to the success of the organization.

            Which information asset generates the most revenue?

            Which information asset generates the most probability?

            Which Information asset would be the expensive to replace?


               Data Classification








\endash     Confidential: Access to information with this classification is strictly on a need-to-know basis or as required by the terms of a contract.


\endash     Internal: Used for all internal information that does not meet the criteria for the confidential category and is to be viewed only by authorized contractors, and other third parties.


\endash     External:  All information that has been approved by management for public release.


The military uses five level classifications


=       Unclassified data


=       Sensitive But Unclassified data (SBU)


=       Confidential data


=       Secret data


=       Top Secret data


4 Unclassified data: Information that can generally be distributed to the public without any


threat to U.S. National  interests.


1.     Sensitive But Unclassified data (SBU) : Any information of which the loss, misuse, or unauthorized access to, or modification of might adversely affect U.S. national interests, the conduct of Department of Defense(DoD) programs, or the privacy of DoD personnel.


2.     Confidential data: Any information or material the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security.


3.     Secret: Any information or material the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be cause serious damage to the national security.


4.     Top Secret Data: Any information or material the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.


Organization may have


·     Research data


·     Personnel data


·     Customer data


·     General Internal Communications


Some organization may use


ü     Public data


ü     For office use only


ü     Sensitive data


ü     Classified data


   Public: Information for general public dissemination, such as an advertisement or public release.


   For Official Use Only: Information that is not particularly sensitive, but not for public release, such as internal communications.


   Sensitive: Information important to the business that could embarrass the company or cause loss of market share if revealed.


   Classified: Information of the utmost secrecy to the organization, disclosure of which could severely impact the well-being of the organization.


Security Clearances


- The other side of the data classification scheme is the personnel security clearance structure.


- Each user of data must be assigned a single authorization level that indicates the level of classification he or she is authorized to view.


            Eg: Data entry clerk, development Programmer, Information Security Analyst, or even CIO.


            Most organizations have a set of roles and the accompanying security clearances associated with each role.


            Overriding an employee’s security clearance is the fundamental principle of “need-to-know”.

Management of classified data


   Includes its storage, distribution, portability, and destruction.


   Military uses color coordinated cover sheets to protect classified information from the casual observer.


   Each classified document should contain the appropriate designation at the top and bottom of each page.


   A clean desk policy requires that employees secure all information in appropriate storage containers at the end of each day.


   When Information are no longer valuable, proper care should be taken to destroy them by means of shredding, burning or transferring to a service offering authorized document destruction.


Dumpster divingà to retrieve information that could embarrass a company or compromise information security.


Threat Identification


   After identifying the information assets, the analysis phase moves on to an examination of the threats facing the organization.


Identify and Prioritize Threats and Threat Agents



·        ü This examination is known as a threat assessment. You can address e ach threat with a few basic questions, as fo llows:


·        Which threats present a danger to an organization’s assets in the given en vironment?

·        Which threats represent the most danger to the organization’s information?


·        How much would it cost to recover from a successful attack?

·        Which of the threats would require the greatest expenditure to prevent?


1.           Vulnerability Identification:


   Create a list of Vulnerabilities for each information asset.

   Groups of people work iteratively in a series of sessions give best result.

   At the end of Identification process, you have a list of assets and their vulnerabilities.





Table Vulnerability Assessment of a Hypothetical DMZ Router


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