Home > Articles > Security > Software Security

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Traditional Risk Analysis Terminology

An in-depth analysis of all existing risk analysis approaches is beyond the scope of this book; instead, I summarize basic approaches, common features, strengths, weaknesses, and relative advantages and disadvantages.

As a corpus, “traditional” methodologies are varied and view risk from different perspectives. Examples of basic approaches include the following:

  • Financial loss methodologies that seek to provide a loss figure to be balanced against the cost of implementing various controls
  • Mathematically derived “risk ratings” that equate risk to arbitrary ratings for threat, probability, and impact
  • Qualitative assessment techniques that base risk assessment on anecdotal or knowledge-driven factors

Each basic approach has its merits, but even when approaches differ in the details, almost all of them share some common concepts that are valuable and should be considered in any risk analysis. These commonalities can be captured in a set of basic definitions.

  • Asset: The object of protection efforts. This may be variously defined as a system component, data, or even a complete system.

  • Risk: The probability that an asset will suffer an event of a given negative impact. Various factors determine this calculation: the ease of executing an attack, the motivation and resources of an attacker, the existence of vulnerabilities in a system, and the cost or impact in a particular business context. Risk = probability × impact.

  • Threat: The actor or agent who is the source of danger. Within information security, this is invariably the danger posed by a malicious agent (e.g., fraudster, attacker, malicious hacker) for a variety of motivations (e.g., financial gain, prestige). Threats carry out attacks on the security of the system (e.g., SQL injection, TCP/IP SYN attacks, buffer overflows, denial of service). Unfortunately, Microsoft has been misusing the term threat as a substitute for risk. This has led to some confusion in the commercial security space. (See the next box, On Threat Modeling versus Risk Analysis: Microsoft Redefines Terms.)

  • Vulnerability: For a threat to be effective, it must act against a vulnerability in the system. In general, a vulnerability is a defect or weakness in system security procedures, design, implementation, or internal controls that can be exercised and result in a security breach or a violation of security policy. A vulnerability may exist in one or more of the components making up a system. (Note that the components in question are not necessarily involved with security functionality.) Vulnerability data for a given software system are most often compiled from a combination of OS-level and application-level vulnerability test results (often automated by a “scanner,” such as Nessus, Nikto, or Sanctum’s Appscan), code reviews, and higher-level architectural reviews. In software, vulnerabilities stem from defects and come in two basic flavors: flaws are design-level problems leading to security risk, and bugs are implementation-level problems leading to security risk. Automated source code analysis tools tend to focus on bugs. Human expertise is required to uncover flaws.

  • Countermeasures or safeguards: The management, operational, and technical controls prescribed for an information system which, taken together, adequately protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the system and its information. For every risk, controls may be put in place that either prevent or (at a minimum) detect the risk when it triggers.

  • Impact: The impact on the organization using the software, were the risk to be realized. This can be monetary or tied to reputation, or may result from the breach of a law, regulation, or contract. Without a quantification of impact, technical vulnerability is hard to deal with—especially when it comes to mitigation activities. (See the discussion of the “techno-gibberish problem” in Chapter 2.)

  • Probability: The likelihood that a given event will be triggered. This quantity is often expressed as a percentile, though in most cases calculation of probability is extremely rough. I like to use three simple buckets: high (H), medium (M), and low (L). Geeks have an unnatural propensity to use numbers even when they’re not all that useful. Watch out for that when it comes to probability and risk. Some organizations have five, seven, or even ten risk categories (instead of three). Others use exact thresholds (70%) and pretend-precision numbers, such as 68.5%, and end up arguing about decimals. Simple categories and buckets seem to work best, and they emerge from the soup of risks almost automatically anyway.

Using these basic definitions, risk analysis approaches diverge on how to arrive at particular values for these attributes. A number of methods calculate a nominal value for an information asset and attempt to determine risk as a function of loss and event probability. Some methods use checklists of risk categories, threats, and attacks to ascertain risk.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020