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A Security Testing Methodology that Fits Every IT Budget

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There are many different methodologies for implementing and testing security controls in an IT system to ensure that it is operating under an “acceptable level of risk.” Many of these ...

There are many different methodologies for implementing and testing security controls in an IT system to ensure that it is operating under an “acceptable level of risk.” Many of these methodologies require the use of software to aid in this measurement. While the execution of technical tools is important, it can sometimes place a financial burden on an organization (especially a small business) that may not have the resources to purchase the software or hire trained personnel to run the tools and conduct an analysis of the results.

This presentation provides an overview of a security testing methodology developed by the Federal Government through the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Computer Security Division that is available for use by the security community at no cost. The NIST methodology allows an organization to test their security posture by analyzing controls that are listed in 18 different security categories.

Attendees will:

1. Be presented a comprehensive security testing approach that limits the need for using automated tools

2. Take away an understanding of National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) security controls and learn how to apply them to their information systems

3. Be shown techniques for documenting testing results

4. Be apprised of best practices for conducting security testing of information systems

Tom Hasman, Senior Information Security Analyst, SRA International


Tom is Senior Information Security Analyst on the Information Assurance team for SRA International. Tom specializes in Security Tests & Evaluations in support of the government’s Certification & Accreditation process.

He performs risk assessments and makes recommendations to clients for prioritizing and mitigating vulnerabilities. Tom also develops security policies and procedures for government clients.

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    A Security Testing Methodology that Fits Every IT Budget A Security Testing Methodology that Fits Every IT Budget Presentation Transcript

    • A Security Testing Methodology that Fits Every IT Budget Tom Hasman SRA International, Inc. Rochester Security Summit October 20, 2010
    • Disclaimer Points of view or opinions expressed in this presentation do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of SRA. 2 Copyright © 2010
    • About SRA SRA – Founded in 1978 – Based in Washington, DC; offices throughout the US - Durham, NC; San Diego; San Antonio; Colorado Springs; Scranton, PA, Rochester, NY ☺ – Offices in Europe too – United Kingdom, Germany, France and the Czech Republic – Work for government organizations and commercial clients serving the national security, civil government and global health markets – Expertise in areas including: air surveillance and air traffic management; contract research organization (CRO) services; cyber security; disaster response planning; enterprise resource planning; environmental strategies; IT systems, infrastructure and managed services; logistics; public health preparedness; public safety; strategic management consulting; systems engineering; and wireless integration. – Current workforce: 7,100+ employees – Website: www.sra.com 3 Copyright © 2010
    • Speaker Biography Tom Hasman – Senior information security analyst on Information Assurance team at SRA – Joined SRA in December 2000 – Arlington, VA office – Background in risk management and security testing; conducted over 100 risk assessments and security tests on government systems for clients including EPA, DHS, DOC, DOI, USITC, and Dept of Treasury – Advises clients on security policy and how they can implement a strong risk management program with limited security resources – Past speaker at Computer Security Institute (CSI) Conference and the RSA Security Conference – MA in Government from Johns Hopkins University and wrote/defended masters thesis on information warfare. 4 Copyright © 2010
    • Agenda Introduction – why test? Problems with security testing Alternate testing solution – Implement security program and controls before testing Testing security controls Creating a test report Best practices Summary Questions POC information and web site link 5 Copyright © 2010
    • Why Conduct Security Testing? It’s the Law! – FISMA - requires federal agencies have an effective program for protecting their data and information systems (risk management) – HIPAA Security Standards – Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 Management of Internal Controls A key component of risk management is the implementation of a good security testing program Security Testing is part of “best practices” – It increases awareness about security of the system – Identifies system’s risks, vulnerabilities, etc. – Provides improved basis for making decisions – Provides justification of expenditures – Security Test = High confidence that assets are adequately protected - assuming the test went well ☺ 6 Copyright © 2010
    • Problems with Security Testing Cost – Many security testing methodologies require the use of expensive software to aid in testing Expertise – Even free tools require technical expertise to analyze results Time – A lot of time spent reviewing tool output Hire an expert = $$$$ Do it yourself = lots of lost time – Too much time/money spent on technical solution, not enough time/energy on personnel 7 Copyright © 2010
    • Alternative Testing Solution Free “tools” from the federal government’s Department of Commerce – National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Computer Security Division Requires “minimal” technical background Series of Special Publications that: – Help you categorize your system (C, I, A ratings) – Help you choose the appropriate security control to implement in your system – Help you test those controls to ensure that are implemented correctly (system operating at “acceptable level of risk.”) 8 Copyright © 2010
    • Questions to ask before testing What am I trying to protect? – How sensitive is the data Do I have a security program? – What methodology is used? – How mature is it? Have I implemented a minimum set of security controls? – Implemented – Planned – Accept risk 9 Copyright © 2010
    • Sensitivity of Data Based on three security objectives Confidentiality – Assurance that information is not disclosed to unauthorized persons, processes, or devices Integrity – Guarding against improper information modification or destruction Availability – Timely, reliable access to data and information services for authorized users 10 Copyright © 2010
    • What am I trying to protect? (Categorize Your System’s C, I, A Levels) FIPS 199 – security categorization of federal systems – Use is required for government information systems – Used to determine C, I, A levels of system – NIST SP 800-60 – carries out FIPS 199 requirements NIST SP 800-60 – Guide for Mapping Types of Information and Information Systems to Security Categories – Revision one released in August 2008 – Contains guidelines for mapping types of information and information systems to security categories – In other words, helps determine C, I, A levels (L, M, H) based on type of information system processes All NIST SP are available at http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/ index.html 11 Copyright © 2010
    • What am I trying to protect? (cont) NIST SP 800-60 Example Financial Management Heading Information Type C I A Funds Control M M L Accounting L M L Payments L M L Security Category Rating M M L Overall Rating = Moderate 12 Copyright © 2010
    • Do I have a security program? (Risk Management Framework) NIST SP 800-37 – Guide for Applying the Risk Management Framework to Federal Information Systems – Latest version released in February 2010 – Old Model Conduct system certification & accreditation (C&A) once every 3 years Ignore IT security program until C&A is due again – New Model Maintains the need for a C&A every 3 years Organizations must practice continuous monitoring A subset of controls should be tested yearly Minimizes burden of C&A (controls constantly tested) 13 Copyright © 2010
    • Have I Implemented a minimum set of controls? NIST SP 800-53 Rev3 – Latest version is August 2009 (updates to May 1, 2010) – Establishes minimum set of security controls based on system information C, I, A levels – Document has baseline + “control enhancements” for those areas where C, I, A is medium or high – 17 families among Management, Operational and Technical controls + 1 family for Program Management – Originally designed for systems but many controls can be applied at the organization level Awareness & Training Incident Response Contingency Planning 14 Copyright © 2010
    • Implementing Security Controls (continued) Rev 3 removed duplicate questions in rev2 – Example: Session Termination (AC-12) and Network Disconnect (SC-10) very similar – Now under SC-10 in revision 3 New controls added – Many new controls in SC family including: Fail state, honeypots, security of information “at rest” – Program Management (PM) family also added Implementing controls at organization level Ex – appointing CISO, capital planning for security Offers the ability to designate common- and hybrid-controls – Common – implement at a organizational level (AT-2) – Hybrid – combination of organization/system (CP-2) 15 Copyright © 2010
    • Implementing Security Controls (cont2) Minimum Security Requirements Access Control (T) Awareness and Training (O) Audit and Accountability (T) Security Assessment and Authorization (M) Configuration Management (O) Contingency Planning (O) Identification and Authentication (T) Incident Response (O) Maintenance (O) Media Protection (O) Physical and Environmental Protection (O) Planning (M) Personnel Security (O) Risk Assessment (M) Systems and Services Acquisition (M) System and Communications Protection (T) System and Information Integrity (O) Program Management (PM) – organization-wide 16 Copyright © 2010
    • Implementing Security Controls (cont3) Rev3 also provides priority for control implementation – Priority Code (P1) – implement first – Priority Code (P2) – implement only after all P1 controls are in place – Priority Code (P3) – implement only after all P1 and P2 controls in place – Unspecified Priority Code (P0) – government does not require for federal systems Organization may choose to implement 17 Copyright © 2010
    • Implementing Security Controls (cont4) Use the priority codes to help guide what controls you will implement – Make Adjustments for: Budget Organizational/company mission Includes capability to test technical controls – Minimizes the need for security scans* *As long as your honest *Security scans still needed periodically *Big organizations should run scans on a regular basis 18 Copyright © 2010
    • Now tested under SC-10 Screen capture from NIST 800-53 rev3 19 Copyright © 2010
    • Control enhancement is optional – see next slide NIST SP 800-53 Example #1 (AT-2) 20 Copyright © 2010
    • No control enhancements for L, M, H NIST SP 800-53 No control Example #1 (AT-2) enhancements 21 Copyright © 2010
    • NIST SP 800-53 Example #2 (AC-2) 22 Copyright © 2010
    • NIST SP 800-53 Control enhancements Example #2 (AC-2) for M, H 23 Copyright © 2010
    • No enhancements Enhancements NIST SP 800-53 Control enhancements Example #2 (AC-2) for M, H 24 Copyright © 2010
    • Control enhancements increase for L, M, H NIST SP 800-53 Increasing control Example #3 (AU-3) enhancements for each level 25 Copyright © 2010
    • NIST SP 800-53 Optional control Example #4 (AT-5) (Not selected for L, M, H) 26 Copyright © 2010
    • Testing Security Controls NIST SP 800-53A – used to test implemented controls Latest version published in June 2010 Three types of tests – Examine – Interview – Test (require the use of automated tools) Observe – new account with weak password, user attempting to perform administrative functions, obscuring passwords Follows the same format as NIST SP 800-53 – 17 control families + 1 program level family – Categorized under 3 classes Management, Operational, Technical Guidelines for testing vary based on sensitivity of information – Low, moderate, high system impact levels 27 Copyright © 2010
    • AT-2: Testing the control 28 Copyright © 2010
    • AC-2: Assessment Objective 29 Copyright © 2010
    • System Manager, System Administrator, HR AC-2: Testing the baseline control 30 Copyright © 2010
    • AC-2: Testing the control enhancements 31 Copyright © 2010
    • AU-3: Assessment Objective and Testing the baseline control 32 Copyright © 2010
    • AU-3: Testing the control enhancement 33 Copyright © 2010
    • Test Report Output of all testing activities Used to communicate to management security posture of organization Several ways to communicate results: – Table format – Paragraph format – Hybrid Paragraph format – executive summary of testing activities Table format – lists test results 34 Copyright © 2010
    • Sample Test Report Control Test Method Test Date Test Result Pass/Fail AC-2 - Examined Account Management 10/16/10 - Account management handbook Fail Handbook V1.4 dated contains procedures for opening 5/12/10 and closing accounts but often - Interviewed System Manager 10/19/10 system administrator creates Abigail Hasman new accounts without system - Interviewed System 10/20/10 manager approval Administrator Sam Hasman - Human resources rep not contacted - Interviewed Human Resources 10/20/10 on a regular basis. Result = Rep Linda Hasman many accounts of departed employees remain open AT-2 - Examined security awareness 10/2/10 - PowerPoint slides very detailed and Pass PowerPoint slides easy to understand. - Examined security awareness 10/2/10 - Security posters placed around poster near elevator (wear building (elevators, kitchen) are badge and don’t let people eye catching and communicate tailgate) 10/4/10 message effectively - Examined training records Excel - Training records spreadsheet spreadsheet 10/8/10 includes names of all - Interviewed Training employees and date PowerPoint Coordinator [Name here] 10/8/10 presentation was completed. - Interviewed five employees - Training coordinator very [list names here] knowledgeable - Employees discussed content of slides (verified that they actually took the training) 35 Copyright © 2010
    • Sample Test Report (continued) Control Test Method Test Date Test Result Pass/Fail AU-3 - Examined auditing procedures 9/30/10 - Audit procedures very detailed and Pass - Examined sample audit report 9/30/10 contain list of specific events to be audited. - Sample report included the list of audited events identified in the procedure. PE-7 - Examined visitor sign in log for 10/2/10 - Visitor sign in log was missing Fail (Visitor 9/15/10-9/30/10 information. In many cases, Control) - Interviewed two front desk 10/2/10 the name of the employee security officers accompanying the visitor was [list names here] not listed. In some other cases, the date of the visit was missing. - Front desk security officers noted that they are often overwhelmed with multiple tasks and therefore can’t always scrutinize employees when they are signing in visitors. 36 Copyright © 2010
    • Best Practices Do not begin testing until you: – Know sensitivity of system/organizational data – Have a security methodology in place – Implemented minimum set of security controls Give interviewees background on task before conducting interview Take interview notes on a laptop – Do not use paper and pen Write up test results as you complete interviews When possible, try to include something positive in test results 37 Copyright © 2010
    • Summary Testing leads to a good risk management program High confidence that assets are protected from external and internal threats Following a test methodology such as NIST or OCTAVE minimizes your need to conduct expensive and time consuming vulnerability scans Practice “Continuous Monitoring” of security controls 38 Copyright © 2010
    • Questions 39 Copyright © 2010
    • Contact Information & Website for NIST Publications Tom Hasman – tom_hasman@sra.com – 585-473-6512 (office) – 585-857-3718 (cell) All NIST SP are available at: – http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/PubsS Ps.html 40 Copyright © 2010