Threats to Information
Security and what we
can do about it
Before we start our Conversation…
Ordering a Pizza?
What are the threats to information security?
• In order to adequately
resources, managers must
be aware of the sources of
threats to those resources,
the types of security
problems the threats
present, and how to
safeguard against both. The
three most common
sources of threats are:
– Human error and
– Malicious human
– Natural events and
• Human error and mistakes stem from
employees and nonemployees.
– They may misunderstand operating procedures and
inadvertently cause data to be deleted.
– Poorly written application programs and poorly
designed procedures may allow employees to enter
data incorrectly or misuse the system.
– Employees may make physical mistakes like
unplugging a piece of hardware that causes the
system to crash.
• Malicious human
activity results from
employees, and hackers
destroy data or system
• Breaking into systems
with the intent of
stealing, altering or
• Introducing viruses
and worms into a
• Acts of terrorism.
Natural Events and Disasters
• The last source of threats to information security are
those caused by natural events and disasters. These
threats pose problems stemming not just from the
initial loss of capability and service but also problems a
company may experience as it recovers from the initial
problem. They include:
• Other acts of nature
This chart shows some of the security problems a company may
experience and the possible sources of the problems.
What are unauthorized data disclosure
• For example, a new university dept.
administrator posts student names, numbers,
and grades in a public place.
• Or, an employee unknowingly posts restricted
data on a company website that can be
reached by search engines over the Web.
Malicious unauthorized data disclosure threats
• Pre-texting: when
someone deceives by
pretending to be someone
• Phishing: the phisher
pretends to be a legitimate
company and sends an
confidential data such as
account numbers, social
passwords, and so forth.
• Spoofing: is pretending to be
someone else. Email spoofing
is a synonym for phishing
• Sniffing: is a technique for intercepting computer
• With wireless networks, drive-by sniffers simply
take computers with wireless connections through
an area and search for unprotected wireless
• They can monitor and intercept wireless traffic at
• There are three components of a sound
organizational security program:
1. Senior management must establish a security policy
and manage risks.
2. Safeguards of various kinds must be established for
all five components of an IS as the figure on the next
3. The organization must plan its incident response
before any problems occur.
Security Safeguards as They Relate to the Five
What is senior management’s security role?
The NIST Handbook of Security Elements lists the necessary elements of
an effective security program as this figure shows.
*National Institute of Standards and technology
• Senior managers should ensure their
organization has an effective security policy that
includes these elements:
1. A general statement of the organization’s security
2. Issue-specific policies like personal use of email and
3. System-specific policies that ensure the company is
complying with laws and regulations.
• Senior managers must also manage risks
associated with information systems security
1. Risk is the likelihood of an adverse occurrence.
2. You can reduce risk but always at a cost. The
amount of money you spend on security
influences the amount of risk you must assume.
3. Uncertainty is defined as the things we do not
know that we do not know
Senior Managements Security Role
assessing risks to
system you must
What the threats are
How likely they are to
The consequences if
Fig 12-4 Risk Assessment Factors
When you’re assessing risks to an information system you must first determine:
What the threats are.
How likely they are to occur.
The consequences if they occur.
The figure below lists the factors you should include in a risk assessment.
Once you’ve assessed the risks to your information system, you must make
decisions about how much security you want to pay for. Each decision carries
Some risk is easy and inexpensive.
Some risk is expensive and difficult.
Managers have a fiduciary
responsibility to the organization
to adequately manage risk.
What technical safeguards are
You can establish five technical
safeguards for the hardware and
software components of an
information system as the figure
on the next slide shows.
– Identification and
– passwords (what you
– smart cards (what you
– biometric authentication
(what you are).
Since users must access
many different systems, it’s
often more secure, and
easier, to establish a single
sign-on for multiple
• The process of changing original text to a
secret message using cryptography
• Cryptography is the science of transforming
information so that it is secure while it is being
transmitted or stored
• Firewalls, the third technical safeguard, should
be installed and used with every computer
that’s connected to any network, especially
• Firewalls can be hardware or software, used
independently of each other or used together
Perimeter & Internal Firewalls
– The diagram shows how
perimeter and internal
firewalls are special
devices that help protect
– Packet-filtering firewalls
are programs on
computers or on routers
that examine each
packet entering the
Act as a gateway
to the network
• Malware Protection is
the fourth technical
concentrate on spyware
and adware here.
– Spyware are programs that
may be installed on your
computer without your
knowledge or permission.
– Adware is a benign
program that’s also
installed without your
permission. It resides in
observes your behavior.
• If your computer displays
any of the symptoms in this
figure, you may have one of
these types of malware on
safeguard your computer against
– Install antivirus and antispyware programs.
– Scan your computer frequently for malware.
– Update malware definitions often or use an automatic update
– Open email attachments only from known sources and even then be
– Promptly install software updates from legitimate sources like
Microsoft for your operating system or McAfee for your spyware
– Browse only in reputable Internet neighborhoods. Malware is often
associated with rogue Web sites.
What data safeguards are available?
To protect databases and other data sources, an organization should
follow the safeguards listed in this figure.
Remember, data and the information from it are one of the most
important resources an organization has.
What human safeguards are available?
• Human safeguards
for employees are
some of the most
an organization can
• They should be
to help protect
• An organization needs human safeguards for
nonemployees whether they are temporary employees,
vendors, business partners, or the public. Here are a few
– Ensure any contracts between the organization and other
workers include security policies. Third-party employees should
be screened and trained the same as direct employees.
– Web sites used by third-party employees and the public should
be hardened against misuse or abuse.
– Protect outside users from internal security problems. If your
system gets infected with a virus, you should not pass it on to
• Account administration is the third type of
human safeguard and has three components
—account management, password
management, and help-desk policies.
– Account management focuses on
• Establishing new accounts
• Modifying existing accounts
• Terminating unnecessary accounts.
More Human Safeguards
requires that users
Immediately change newly
Change passwords periodically
Sign an account acknowledgment
form like the one in this figure.
Fig 12-13 Sample Account Acknowledgement Form
– Help-desks have been a source of problems for
account administration because of the inherent
nature of their work.
• It is difficult for the help-desk to determine exactly with
whom they’re speaking. Users call up for a new password
without the help-desk having a method of definitively
identifying who is on the other end of the line.
• There must be policies in place to provide ways of
authenticating users like asking questions only the user
would know the answers to.
• Users have a responsibility to help the help-desk by
responsibly controlling their passwords.
• Effective system procedures can help increase security and reduce
the likelihood of computer crime. As this figure shows, procedures
should exist for both system users and operations personnel that
cover normal, backup, and recovery procedures.
Fig 12-14 Systems Procedures Security monitoring is
the last human
safeguard. It includes:
Activity log analyses
learning from security
How should organizations respond to security
• No system is fail-proof. Every organization must have
an effective plan for dealing with a loss of computing
systems. This figure describes disaster preparedness
tasks for every organization, large and small. The last
item that suggests an organization train and rehearse
its disaster preparedness plans is very important.
What is the extent of computer crime?
• The full extent of computer crime is unknown.
There is no national census because many
organizations are reluctant to report losses for
fear of alienating customers, suppliers, and
business partners. dollar loss.
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