The Security Vulnerability Assessment Process & Best Practices


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Conducting regular security assessments on the organizational network and computer systems has become a vital part of protecting information-computing assets. Security assessments are a proactive and offensive posture towards information security as compared to the traditional reactive and defensive stance normally implemented with the use of Access Control-Lists (ACLs) and firewalls.

Too effectively conduct a security assessment so it is beneficial to an organization, a proven methodology must be followed so the assessors and assesses are on the same page.

This presentation will evaluate the benefits of credential scanning, scanning in a virtual environment, distributed scanning as well as vulnerability management.

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The Security Vulnerability Assessment Process & Best Practices

  1. 1. The Security VulnerabilityAssessment Process, Best Practices & Challenges 1 Kellep A. Charles, CISA, CISSP
  2. 2. Agenda 2About MeTopic IntroductionThe ProcessThe Best Practices/ChallengesConclusion
  3. 3. About Me 3Kellep Charles but you can call me K.C.Government contractor in the DC areaServed as an adjunct professorDoctoral Student  Research area:  Human Computer Interaction-Security HCI-Sec  Honeypot & Artificial Neural NetworksOperate
  4. 4. Introduction 4Security vulnerability assessments have become an imperative part of any organization’s computer and network security posture.Many organizations consist of:  Heterogeneous computing environments  Windows, Mac OS X, Linux/Unix  Multiple Applications  Distributed computing  Internet-enabled information access systems. The need to understand the state of an organization’s overall information system is ever more important now.
  5. 5. Introduction 5Best practices in information security acknowledge  a defensive only approach to securing an enterprise does not suffice  at times is considered inadequate.Frequently these defensive security devices such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDS)  often not configured properly  not capable of locating all the vulnerabilities and threats on the network, especially at the node level.
  6. 6. Introduction 6Performing regular security vulnerability assessment helps bridge that gapAllows an organization to take a proactive stance towards protecting their information computing environment.The bottom line objective is to safeguard the core intellectual and electronic assets of the organization, and to ensure compliance with appropriate regulations
  7. 7. Why Is It So Vital? 7Most Systems are unpatched  Lazy, overworked or misinformed system administratorsMost compromises are from unpatched systems with patches or work around availableSome systems cannot be patched (allow for alternate defense)Proactive and offensive posture towards securityCompliance
  8. 8. Assessment Levels 8 Basic Security Assessment - The objective for this assessment is to give the responsible party a basic understanding of the security of the business as a whole in three key areas: Administrative, Physical and Technical Safeguards. It is meant to point out possible areas of weakness with a walk through of the facility and a Q&A session. It is not an in-depth study, rather, a basic first step in protecting information. In-depth Security Assessment - This is a comprehensive study of the security of your business. We will analyze all policies and procedures, router access lists, Firewall configurations and policies, PC and server configurations, complete Website review, complete mail server review. We will then present the client with a written report of our findings. This type of assessment will give you a thorough understanding of how your company measures up to "Industry Best Practices".
  9. 9. Assessment Levels 9External Vulnerability Testing - We will test your networkfrom the outside from a "hackers point-of-view". We will usethe same tools criminals use to try and compromise yournetwork and servers.Internal Vulnerability Testing - These are the same toolsused in the External test. This type of assessment is essentialin understanding how and why hackers, viruses and wormsspread so quickly through an organization.
  10. 10. Assessment Process 10 To effectively conduct a security assessment so it is beneficial to an organization  a proven methodology must be followed so the assessors and assesses are on the same page. Using a proven security assessment methodology supplies a blueprint of events from start-to-finish that can be examined, tracked and replicated. Reports that are constructed from the security assessments are used to provide a snap shot view of information system deficiencies for short-term analysis as well as trending data for long-term evaluation Allowing the organization to understand their vulnerabilities so they can better protect themselves from current and future threats.
  11. 11. Security Assessment Process 11The process includes the following 6 phases  Pre Security Assessment Process  Security Assessment In-Brief  Security Assessment Field Work  Security Assessment Report Analysis & Preparation  Security Assessment Out-Brief  Post Security Assessment Process
  12. 12. Security Assessment Process 12Pre-Security Assessment Process  The pre-security assessment process entails one of the most important aspects of conducting a security assessment. Obtaining an engagement letter grants the assessment team the authority to commence with the formal processes of creating documentation to support the security assessment, permission for the onsite visit and the overall authority to conduct the security assessment.
  13. 13. Security Assessment Process 13Security Assessment In-Brief  Once the team has arrived at the assessment location, a security assessment in-brief is required. In the in-brief, both the security assessment team and the organizational staff members will introduce themselves and the roles they will have during the security assessment process.
  14. 14. Security Assessment Process 14Security Assessment Field Work (Scanning, Interview, Walk-Thru and Doc Review)  Once the in brief has been review, discussed, completed and agreed upon, the security assessment fieldwork can commence. The security assessment field-work process consist of conducting vulnerability scans, facility walkthrough, manual system checks, staff interview and various document reviews.
  15. 15. Security Assessment Process 15Security Assessment Report Analysis & Preparation  Towards the end of the security assessment, once all of the security assessment fieldwork has been completed, the security assessment team will review and process the information in preparation of the final report. During this phase, the security assessment team will address any false positive, document any variances and findings that will be included in the final report.
  16. 16. Security Assessment Process 16Security Assessment Report Analysis & Preparation
  17. 17. Security Assessment Process 17 Security Assessment Report Analysis & Preparation
  18. 18. Security Assessment Process 18Security Assessment Out-Brief  The security assessment team will provide recommendations as well.  Contact information will be on the out-brief.  This process should be interactive were questions are taken through out the security assessment out-brief.  At the end of the security assessment out-brief, both parties will have to sign the pages of the out-brief and discuss what will be occurring in the post security assessment process.
  19. 19. Security Assessment Process 19Security Assessment Out-Brief  The security assessment team will provide recommendations as well.  Contact information will be on the out-brief.  This process should be interactive were questions are taken through out the security assessment out-brief.  At the end of the security assessment out-brief, both parties will have to sign the pages of the out-brief and discuss what will be occurring in the post security assessment process.
  20. 20. Security Assessment Process 20Post Security Assessment Process  The post security assessment process is where the security assessment team securely files all documentation and electronic data pertaining to the organization in which the security assessment was conducted on.  In addition, a team meeting with all members of the assessment team should be conducted to review and lessons learned to add any improvements or deficiencies to the process.
  21. 21. Vulnerability Assessment, Penetration Test & Security Audit 21 A vulnerability assessment is a practice used to identify all potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited in an environment.  The assessment can be used to evaluate physical security, personnel (testing through social engineering and such), or system and network security. While a vulnerability assessments goal is to identify all vulnerabilities in an environment, a penetration test has the goal of "breaking into the network."  only needs to exploit one or two vulnerabilities to actually penetrate the environment.  Penetration testing is also referred to as ethical hacking A security audit is basically someone going around with a criteria checklist of things that should be done or in place to ensure that the company is in compliance with its security policy, regulations and legal
  22. 22. Credential Scans vs Un-credential Scans 22Credentialed scanning allows for a much more accurate and thorough picture of the system.  Mechanic and doctor examplePart of vulnerability scanning is to identify missing patches that leave a machine open to compromise. Test of a Windows 7 system  The results speak for themselves: first scan without credentials, then with credentials – What do you think you will see?
  23. 23. Credential Scans vs Un-credential Scans 23 Test of a Windows 7 system  The results speak for themselves: without credentials, the scan identified highs=0; meds=0; lows=1. With credentials: highs=7; meds=8; lows=5  Guess which one is more
  24. 24. Credential Scans vs Un-credential Scans
  25. 25. Credential Scans vs. Un-credential Scans
  26. 26. System Hardening 26 Center for Internet Security (CIS) Benchmarks  provides standards and metrics that dramatically raise the level of security to ensure the integrity of the public and private Internet-based functions on which society increasingly depends. Federal Desktop Core Configuration (FDCC)  A list of security settings recommended by the National Institute of Standards and Technology for general-purpose microcomputers that are connected directly to the network of a United States government agency. Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG)  DISA’s methodology for standardized secure installation and maintenance of computer software and hardware. Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP)  a method for using specific standards to enable automated vulnerability management, measurement, and policy compliance evaluation (e.g., FISMA compliance). The National Vulnerability Database (NVD) is the U.S. government content repository for SCAP. Some items may have to be changed to obtain credential
  27. 27. Vulnerability Management 27 The repeated practice of identifying, classifying, remediating, and mitigating Prioritize Mitigate Vulnerabilities - Ultimately, the root causes of vulnerabilities must be addressed. This is often done via patching vulnerable services, changing vulnerable configurations or making application updates to remove vulnerable code. Maintain and Monitor - Organizations computing environments are dynamic and evolve over time, vulnerability management is an ongoing process rather than a point-in-time
  28. 28. Compliance 28 Regulatory
  29. 29. Other Things to Consider 29VirtualizationCloud ComputingPoliticsReoccurring ScansDistributed ScanningPatch ManagementPenetration
  30. 30. What Vulnerability Scanning Can’t Do 30Find Zero-Days and malwareEliminates the most obvious and known security threats.Can’t PatchDetermine the difference between False Positive/
  31. 31. ConclusionThe art of defending an organizational network takes many approaches to be done successfully.No one control can assure that the network is safe. Firewalls are great for prevention, IDS offer the ability for detection, Security Awareness briefing provides for user knowledge and Security Assessments assist with a proactive posture towards security.It also helps prove youve done "due diligence" in performing basic system patches and fixing the well- known problems in case a security breach causes financial, legal or regulatory problems.
  32. 32. 32 Thank You…@kellepc @securityorb