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When a threat does use a vulnerability to inflict harm, it has an impact. In the context of information security, the impact is a loss of availability, integrity, and confidentiality, and possibly other losses lost income, loss of life, loss of real property. The remaining risk is called "residual risk.

A risk assessment is carried out by a team of people who have knowledge of specific areas of the business. Membership of the team may vary over time as different parts of the business are assessed. The assessment may use a subjective qualitative analysis based on informed opinion, or where reliable dollar figures and historical information is available, the analysis may use quantitative analysis.

Research has shown that the most vulnerable point in most information systems is the human user, operator, designer, or other human. In broad terms, the risk management process consists of: [43] [44]. For any given risk, management can choose to accept the risk based upon the relative low value of the asset, the relative low frequency of occurrence, and the relative low impact on the business.

Or, leadership may choose to mitigate the risk by selecting and implementing appropriate control measures to reduce the risk. In some cases, the risk can be transferred to another business by buying insurance or outsourcing to another business. In such cases leadership may choose to deny the risk. Selecting and implementing proper security controls will initially help an organization bring down risk to acceptable levels. Control selection should follow and should be based on the risk assessment. Controls can vary in nature, but fundamentally they are ways of protecting the confidentiality, integrity or availability of information.

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Organizations can implement additional controls according to requirement of the organization. Administrative controls consist of approved written policies, procedures, standards and guidelines. Administrative controls form the framework for running the business and managing people. They inform people on how the business is to be run and how day-to-day operations are to be conducted.

Laws and regulations created by government bodies are also a type of administrative control because they inform the business. Other examples of administrative controls include the corporate security policy, password policy , hiring policies, and disciplinary policies. Administrative controls form the basis for the selection and implementation of logical and physical controls. Logical and physical controls are manifestations of administrative controls, which are of paramount importance. Logical controls also called technical controls use software and data to monitor and control access to information and computing systems.

Passwords, network and host-based firewalls, network intrusion detection systems, access control lists , and data encryption are examples of logical controls. An important logical control that is frequently overlooked is the principle of least privilege, which requires that an individual, program or system process not be granted any more access privileges than are necessary to perform the task.

Violations of this principle can also occur when an individual collects additional access privileges over time. This happens when employees' job duties change, employees are promoted to a new position, or employees are transferred to another department. The access privileges required by their new duties are frequently added onto their already existing access privileges, which may no longer be necessary or appropriate.


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Physical controls monitor and control the environment of the work place and computing facilities. They also monitor and control access to and from such facilities and include doors, locks, heating and air conditioning, smoke and fire alarms, fire suppression systems, cameras, barricades, fencing, security guards, cable locks, etc. Separating the network and workplace into functional areas are also physical controls. An important physical control that is frequently overlooked is separation of duties, which ensures that an individual can not complete a critical task by himself.

For example, an employee who submits a request for reimbursement should not also be able to authorize payment or print the check. An applications programmer should not also be the server administrator or the database administrator ; these roles and responsibilities must be separated from one another.

Information security must protect information throughout its lifespan, from the initial creation of the information on through to the final disposal of the information. The information must be protected while in motion and while at rest. During its lifetime, information may pass through many different information processing systems and through many different parts of information processing systems. There are many different ways the information and information systems can be threatened.

To fully protect the information during its lifetime, each component of the information processing system must have its own protection mechanisms. The building up, layering on and overlapping of security measures is called "defense in depth.

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Recall the earlier discussion about administrative controls, logical controls, and physical controls. The three types of controls can be used to form the basis upon which to build a defense in depth strategy. With this approach, defense in depth can be conceptualized as three distinct layers or planes laid one on top of the other. Additional insight into defense in depth can be gained by thinking of it as forming the layers of an onion, with data at the core of the onion, people the next outer layer of the onion, and network security , host-based security and application security forming the outermost layers of the onion.

Both perspectives are equally valid, and each provides valuable insight into the implementation of a good defense in depth strategy. An important aspect of information security and risk management is recognizing the value of information and defining appropriate procedures and protection requirements for the information. Not all information is equal and so not all information requires the same degree of protection. This requires information to be assigned a security classification.

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The first step in information classification is to identify a member of senior management as the owner of the particular information to be classified. Next, develop a classification policy. The policy should describe the different classification labels, define the criteria for information to be assigned a particular label, and list the required security controls for each classification. Some factors that influence which classification information should be assigned include how much value that information has to the organization, how old the information is and whether or not the information has become obsolete.

Laws and other regulatory requirements are also important considerations when classifying information. The Information Systems Audit and Control Association ISACA and its Business Model for Information Security also serves as a tool for security professionals to examine security from a systems perspective, creating an environment where security can be managed holistically, allowing actual risks to be addressed.

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The type of information security classification labels selected and used will depend on the nature of the organization, with examples being: [50]. All employees in the organization, as well as business partners, must be trained on the classification schema and understand the required security controls and handling procedures for each classification. The classification of a particular information asset that has been assigned should be reviewed periodically to ensure the classification is still appropriate for the information and to ensure the security controls required by the classification are in place and are followed in their right procedures.

Access to protected information must be restricted to people who are authorized to access the information. The computer programs, and in many cases the computers that process the information, must also be authorized. This requires that mechanisms be in place to control the access to protected information.

The sophistication of the access control mechanisms should be in parity with the value of the information being protected; the more sensitive or valuable the information the stronger the control mechanisms need to be. The foundation on which access control mechanisms are built start with identification and authentication. Access control is generally considered in three steps: identification, authentication , and authorization. Identification is an assertion of who someone is or what something is.

If a person makes the statement "Hello, my name is John Doe " they are making a claim of who they are.

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However, their claim may or may not be true. Before John Doe can be granted access to protected information it will be necessary to verify that the person claiming to be John Doe really is John Doe. Typically the claim is in the form of a username. By entering that username you are claiming "I am the person the username belongs to".

Authentication is the act of verifying a claim of identity. When John Doe goes into a bank to make a withdrawal, he tells the bank teller he is John Doe, a claim of identity.

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The bank teller asks to see a photo ID, so he hands the teller his driver's license. The bank teller checks the license to make sure it has John Doe printed on it and compares the photograph on the license against the person claiming to be John Doe. If the photo and name match the person, then the teller has authenticated that John Doe is who he claimed to be. Strong authentication requires providing more than one type of authentication information two-factor authentication. The username is the most common form of identification on computer systems today and the password is the most common form of authentication.

Usernames and passwords have served their purpose, but they are increasingly inadequate. After a person, program or computer has successfully been identified and authenticated then it must be determined what informational resources they are permitted to access and what actions they will be allowed to perform run, view, create, delete, or change. This is called authorization. Authorization to access information and other computing services begins with administrative policies and procedures.

The policies prescribe what information and computing services can be accessed, by whom, and under what conditions. The access control mechanisms are then configured to enforce these policies. Different computing systems are equipped with different kinds of access control mechanisms. Some may even offer a choice of different access control mechanisms.

The access control mechanism a system offers will be based upon one of three approaches to access control, or it may be derived from a combination of the three approaches.