Category Archives: Open FAIR Certification

Open FAIR Blog Series – Five Reasons You Should Use the Open FAIR Body of Knowledge

By Jim Hietala, VP, Security and Andrew Josey, Director of Standards, The Open Group

This is the second in our blog series introducing the Open FAIR Body of Knowledge.

In this blog, we provide 5 reasons why you should use the Open FAIR Body of Knowledge for Risk Analysis:

1. Emphasis on Risk

Often the emphasis in such analyses is placed on security threats and controls, without due consideration of impact.  For example, we have a firewall protecting all our customer information – but what if the firewall is breached and the customer information stolen or changed? Risk analysis using Open FAIR evaluates both the probability that bad things will happen, and the impact if they do happen. By using the Open FAIR Body of Knowledge, the analyst measures and communicates the risk, which is what management cares about.

2. Logical and Rational Framework

It provides a framework that explains the how and why of risk analysis. It improves consistency in undertaking analyses.

3. Quantitative

It’s easy to measure things without considering the risk context – for example, the systems should be maintained in full patch compliance – but what does that mean in terms of loss frequency or the magnitude of loss? The Open FAIR taxonomy and method provide the basis for meaningful metrics.

4. Flexible

Open FAIR can be used at different levels of abstraction to match the need, the available resources, and available data.

5. Rigorous

There is often a lack of rigor in risk analysis: statements are made such as: “that new application is high risk, we could lose millions …” with no formal rationale to support them. The Open FAIR risk analysis method provides a more rigorous approach that helps to reduce gaps and analyst bias. It improves the ability to defend conclusions and recommendations.

In our next blog, we will look at how the Open FAIR Body of Knowledge can be used with other Open Group standards.

The Open FAIR Body of Knowledge consists of the following Open Group standards:

  • Risk Taxonomy (O-RT), Version 2.0 (C13K, October 2013) defines a taxonomy for the factors that drive information security risk – Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR).
  • Risk Analysis (O-RA) (C13G, October 2013) describes process aspects associated with performing effective risk analysis.

These can be downloaded from The Open Group publications catalog at http://www.opengroup.org/bookstore/catalog.

Our other publications include a Pocket Guide and a Certification Study Guide.

62940-hietalaJim Hietala, CISSP, GSEC, is the Vice President, Security for The Open Group, where he manages all IT Security, Risk Management and Healthcare programs and standards activities. He participates in the SANS Analyst/Expert program and has also published numerous articles on Information Security, Risk Management, and compliance topics in publications including The ISSA Journal, Bank Accounting & Finance, Risk Factor, SC Magazine, and others.

 

andrew-small1Andrew Josey is Director of Standards within The Open Group. He is currently managing the standards process for The Open Group, and has recently led the standards development projects for TOGAF® 9.1, ArchiMate® 2.0, IEEE Std 1003.1-2008 (POSIX), and the core specifications of the Single UNIX® Specification, Version 4. Previously, he has led the development and operation of many of The Open Group certification development projects, including industry-wide certification programs for the UNIX system, the Linux Standard Base, TOGAF, and IEEE POSIX. He is a member of the IEEE, USENIX, UKUUG, and the Association of Enterprise Architects.

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Open FAIR Blog Series – An Introduction to Risk Analysis and the Open FAIR Body of Knowledge

By Jim Hietala, VP, Security and Andrew Josey, Director of Standards, The Open Group

This is the first in a four-part series of blogs introducing the Open FAIR Body of Knowledge. In this first blog. we look at what the Open FAIR Body of Knowledge provides, and why a taxonomy is needed for Risk Analysis.

An Introduction to Risk Analysis and the Open FAIR Body of Knowledge

The Open FAIR Body of Knowledge provides a taxonomy and method for understanding, analyzing and measuring information risk. It allows organizations to:

  • Speak in one language concerning their risk using the standard taxonomy and terminology, and communicate risk effectively to senior management
  • Consistently study and apply risk analysis principles to any object or asset
  • View organizational risk in total
  • Challenge and defend risk decisions
  • Compare risk mitigation options

What does FAIR stand for?

FAIR is an acronym for Factor Analysis of Information Risk.

Risk Analysis: The Need for an Accurate Model and Taxonomy

Organizations seeking to analyze and manage risk encounter some common challenges. Put simply, it is difficult to make sense of risk without having a common understanding of both the factors that (taken together) contribute to risk, and the relationships between those factors. The Open FAIR Body of Knowledge provides such a taxonomy.

Here’s an example that will help to illustrate why a standard taxonomy is important. Let’s assume that you are an information security risk analyst tasked with determining how much risk your company is exposed to from a “lost or stolen laptop” scenario. The degree of risk that the organization experiences in such a scenario will vary widely depending on a number of key factors. To even start to approach an analysis of the risk posed by this scenario to your organization, you will need to answer a number of questions, such as:

  • Whose laptop is this?
  • What data resides on this laptop?
  • How and where did the laptop get lost or stolen?
  • What security measures were in place to protect the data on the laptop?
  • How strong were the security controls?

The level of risk to your organization will vary widely based upon the answers to these questions. The degree of overall organizational risk posed by lost laptops must also include an estimation of the frequency of occurrence of lost or stolen laptops across the organization.

In one extreme, suppose the laptop belonged to your CTO, who had IP stored on it in the form of engineering plans for a revolutionary product in a significant new market. If the laptop was unprotected in terms of security controls, and it was stolen while he was on a business trip to a country known for state-sponsored hacking and IP theft, then there is likely to be significant risk to your organization. On the other extreme, suppose the laptop belonged to a junior salesperson a few days into their job, it contained no customer or prospect lists, and it was lost at a security checkpoint at an airport. In this scenario, there’s likely to be much less risk. Or consider a laptop which is used by the head of sales for the organization, who has downloaded Personally Identifiable Information (PII) on customers from the CRM system in order to do sales analysis, and has his or her laptop stolen. In this case, there could be Primary Loss to the organization, and there might also be Secondary Losses associated with reactions by the individuals whose data is compromised.

The Open FAIR Body of Knowledge is designed to help you to ask the right questions to determine the asset at risk (is it the laptop itself, or the data?), the magnitude of loss, the skill level and motivations of the attacker, the resistance strength of any security controls in place, the frequency of occurrence of the threat and of an actual loss event, and other factors that contribute to the overall level of risk for any specific risk scenario.

In our next blog in this series, we will consider 5 reasons why you should use The Open FAIR Body of Knowledge for Risk Analysis.

The Open FAIR Body of Knowledge consists of the following Open Group standards:

  • Risk Taxonomy (O-RT), Version 2.0 (C13K, October 2013) defines a taxonomy for the factors that drive information security risk – Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR).
  • Risk Analysis (O-RA) (C13G, October 2013) describes process aspects associated with performing effective risk analysis.

These can be downloaded from The Open Group publications catalog at http://www.opengroup.org/bookstore/catalog.

Our other publications include a Pocket Guide and a Certification Study Guide.

62940-hietalaJim Hietala, CISSP, GSEC, is the Vice President, Security for The Open Group, where he manages all IT Security, Risk Management and Healthcare programs and standards activities. He participates in the SANS Analyst/Expert program and has also published numerous articles on Information Security, Risk Management, and compliance topics in publications including The ISSA Journal, Bank Accounting & Finance, Risk Factor, SC Magazine, and others.

 

andrew-small1Andrew Josey is Director of Standards within The Open Group. He is currently managing the standards process for The Open Group, and has recently led the standards development projects for TOGAF® 9.1, ArchiMate® 2.0, IEEE Std 1003.1-2008 (POSIX), and the core specifications of the Single UNIX® Specification, Version 4. Previously, he has led the development and operation of many of The Open Group certification development projects, including industry-wide certification programs for the UNIX system, the Linux Standard Base, TOGAF, and IEEE POSIX. He is a member of the IEEE, USENIX, UKUUG, and the Association of Enterprise Architects.

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The Open Group Boston 2014 – Day Two Highlights

By Loren K. Bayes, Director, Global Marketing Communications

Enabling Boundaryless Information Flow™  continued in Boston on Tuesday, July 22Allen Brown, CEO and President of The Open Group welcomed attendees with an overview of the company’s second quarter results.

The Open Group membership is at 459 organizations in 39 countries, including 16 new membership agreements in 2Q 2014.

Membership value is highlighted by the collaboration Open Group members experience. For example, over 4,000 individuals attended Open Group events (physically and virtually whether at member meetings, webinars, podcasts, tweet jams). The Open Group website had more than 1 million page views and over 105,000 publication items were downloaded by members in 80 countries.

Brown also shared highlights from The Open Group Forums which featured status on many upcoming white papers, snapshots, reference models and standards, as well as individiual Forum Roadmaps. The Forums are busy developing and reviewing projects such as the Next Version of TOGAF®, an Open Group standard, an ArchiMate® white paper, The Open Group Healthcare Forum charter and treatise, Standard Mils™ APIs and Open Fair. Many publications are translated into multiple languages including Chinese and Portuguese. Also, a new Forum will be announced in the third quarter at The Open Group London 2014 so stay tuned for that launch news!

Our first keynote of the day was Making Health Addictive by Joseph Kvedar, MD, Partners HealthCare, Center for Connected Health.

Dr. Kvedar described how Healthcare delivery is changing, with mobile technology being a big part. Other factors pushing changes are reimbursement paradigms and caregivers being paid to be more efficient and interested in keeping people healthy and out of hospitals. The goal of Healthcare providers is to integrate care into the day-to-day lives of patients. Healthcare also aims for better technologies and architecture.

Mobile is a game-changer in Healthcare because people are “always on and connected”. Mobile technology allows for in-the-moment messaging, ability to capture health data (GPS, accelerator, etc.) and display information in real time as needed. Bottom-line, smartphones are addictive so they are excellent tools for communication and engagement.

But there is a need to understand and address the implications of automating Healthcare: security, privacy, accountability, economics.

The plenary continued with Proteus Duxbury, CTO, Connect for Health Colorado, who presented From Build to Run at the Colorado Health Insurance Exchange – Achieving Long-term Sustainability through Better Architecture.

Duxbury stated the keys to successes of his organization are the leadership and team’s shared vision, a flexible vendor being agile with rapidly changing regulatory requirements, and COTS solution which provided minimal customization and custom development, resilient architecture and security. Connect for Health experiences many challenges including budget restraints, regulation and operating in a “fish bowl”. Yet, they are on-track with their three-year ‘build to run’ roadmap, stabilizing their foundation and gaining efficiencies.

During the Q&A with Allen Brown following each presentation, both speakers emphasized the need for standards, architecture and data security.

Brown and DuxburyAllen Brown and Proteus Duxbury

During the afternoon, track sessions consisted of Healthcare, Enterprise Architecture (EA) & Business Value, Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), Security & Risk Management, Professional Development and ArchiMate Tutorials. Chris Armstrong, President, Armstrong Process Group, Inc. discussed Architecture Value Chain and Capability Model. Laura Heritage, Principal Solution Architect / Enterprise API Platform, SOA Software, presented Protecting your APIs from Threats and Hacks.

The evening culminated with a reception at the historic Old South Meeting House, where the Boston Tea Party began in 1773.

photo2

IMG_2814Networking Reception at Old South Meeting House

A special thank you to our sponsors and exhibitors at The Open Group Boston 2014: BiZZdesign, Black Duck, Corso, Good e-Learning, Orbus and AEA.

Join the conversation #ogBOS!

Loren K. BaynesLoren K. Baynes, Director, Global Marketing Communications, joined The Open Group in 2013 and spearheads corporate marketing initiatives, primarily the website, blog and media relations. Loren has over 20 years experience in brand marketing and public relations and, prior to The Open Group, was with The Walt Disney Company for over 10 years. Loren holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas A&M University. She is based in the US.

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Q&A with Jim Hietala on Security and Healthcare

By The Open Group

We recently spoke with Jim Hietala, Vice President, Security for The Open Group, at the 2014 San Francisco conference to discuss upcoming activities in The Open Group’s Security and Healthcare Forums.

Jim, can you tell us what the Security Forum’s priorities are going to be for 2014 and what we can expect to see from the Forum?

In terms of our priorities for 2014, we’re continuing to do work in Security Architecture and Information Security Management. In the area of Security Architecture, the big project that we’re doing is adding security to TOGAF®, so we’re working on the next version of the TOGAF standard and specification and there’s an active project involving folks from the Architecture Forum and the Security Forum to integrate security into and stripe it through TOGAF. So, on the Security Architecture side, that’s the priority. On the Information Security Management side, we’re continuing to do work in the area of Risk Management. We introduced a certification late last year, the OpenFAIR certification, and we’ll continue to do work in the area of Risk Management and Risk Analysis. We’re looking to add a second level to the certification program, and we’re doing some other work around the Risk Analysis standards that we’ve introduced.

The theme of this conference was “Towards Boundaryless Information Flow™” and many of the tracks focused on convergence, and the convergence of things Big Data, mobile, Cloud, also known as Open Platform 3.0. How are those things affecting the realm of security right now?

I think they’re just beginning to. Cloud—obviously the security issues around Cloud have been here as long as Cloud has been over the past four or five years. But if you look at things like the Internet of Things and some of the other things that comprise Open Platform 3.0, the security impacts are really just starting to be felt and considered. So I think information security professionals are really just starting to wrap their hands around, what are those new security risks that come with those technologies, and, more importantly, what do we need to do about them? What do we need to do to mitigate risk around something like the Internet of Things, for example?

What kind of security threats do you think companies need to be most worried about over the next couple of years?

There’s a plethora of things out there right now that organizations need to be concerned about. Certainly advanced persistent threat, the idea that maybe nation states are trying to attack other nations, is a big deal. It’s a very real threat, and it’s something that we have to think about – looking at the risks we’re facing, exactly what is that adversary and what are they capable of? I think profit-motivated criminals continue to be on everyone’s mind with all the credit card hacks that have just come out. We have to be concerned about cyber criminals who are profit motivated and who are very skilled and determined and obviously there’s a lot at stake there. All of those are very real things in the security world and things we have to defend against.

The Security track at the San Francisco conference focused primarily on risk management. How can companies better approach and manage risk?

As I mentioned, we did a lot of work over the last few years in the area of Risk Management and the FAIR Standard that we introduced breaks down risk into what’s the frequency of bad things happening and what’s the impact if they do happen? So I would suggest that taking that sort of approach, using something like taking the Risk Taxonomy Standard that we’ve introduced and the Risk Analysis Standard, and really looking at what are the critical assets to protect, who’s likely to attack them, what’s the probably frequency of attacks that we’ll see? And then looking at the impact side, what’s the consequence if somebody successfully attacks them? That’s really the key—breaking it down, looking at it that way and then taking the right mitigation steps to reduce risk on those assets that are really important.

You’ve recently become involved in The Open Group’s new Healthcare Forum. Why a healthcare vertical forum for The Open Group?

In the area of healthcare, what we see is that there’s just a highly fragmented aspect to the ecosystem. You’ve got healthcare information that’s captured in various places, and the information doesn’t necessarily flow from provider to payer to other providers. In looking at industry verticals, the healthcare industry seemed like an area that really needed a lot of approaches that we bring from The Open Group—TOGAF and Enterprise Architecture approaches that we have.

If you take it up to a higher level, it really needs the Boundaryless Information Flow that we talk about in The Open Group. We need to get to the point where our information as patients is readily available in a secure manner to the people who need to give us care, as well as to us because in a lot of cases the information exists as islands in the healthcare industry. In looking at healthcare it just seemed like a natural place where, in our economies – and it’s really a global problem – a lot of money is spent on healthcare and there’s a lot of opportunities for improvement, both in the economics but in the patient care that’s delivered to individuals through the healthcare system. It just seemed like a great area for us to focus on.

As the new Healthcare Forum kicks off this year, what are the priorities for the Forum?

The Healthcare Forum has just published a whitepaper summarizing the workshop findings for the workshop that we held in Philadelphia last summer. We’re also working on a treatise, which will outline our views about the healthcare ecosystem and where standards and architecture work is most needing to be done. We expect to have that whitepaper produced over the next couple of months. Beyond that, we see a lot of opportunities for doing architecture and standards work in the healthcare sector, and our membership is going to determine which of those areas to focus on, which projects to initiate first.

For more on the The Open Group Security Forum, please visit http://www.opengroup.org/subjectareas/security. For more on the The Open Group Healthcare Forum, see http://www.opengroup.org/getinvolved/industryverticals/healthcare.

62940-hietalaJim Hietala, CISSP, GSEC, is the Vice President, Security for The Open Group, where he manages all IT security, risk management and healthcare programs and standards activities. He participates in the SANS Analyst/Expert program and has also published numerous articles on information security, risk management, and compliance topics in publications including The ISSA Journal, Bank Accounting & Finance, Risk Factor, SC Magazine, and others.

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Measuring the Immeasurable: You Have More Data Than You Think You Do

By Jim Hietala, Vice President, Security, The Open Group

According to a recent study by the Ponemon Institute, the average U.S. company experiences more than 100 successful cyber-attacks each year at a cost of $11.6M. By enabling security technologies, those companies can reduce losses by nearly $4M and instituting security governance reduces costs by an average of $1.5M, according to the study.

In light of increasing attacks and security breaches, executives are increasingly asking security and risk professionals to provide analyses of individual company risk and loss estimates. For example, the U.S. healthcare sector has been required by the HIPAA Security rule to perform annual risk assessments for some time now. The recent HITECH Act also added security breach notification and disclosure requirements, increased enforcement in the form of audits and increased penalties in the form of fines. Despite federal requirements, the prospect of measuring risk and doing risk analyses can be a daunting task that leaves even the best of us with a case of “analysis paralysis.”

Many IT experts agree that we are nearing a time where risk analysis is not only becoming the norm, but when those risk figures may well be used to cast blame (or be used as part of a defense in a lawsuit) if and when there are catastrophic security breaches that cost consumers, investors and companies significant losses.

In the past, many companies have been reluctant to perform risk analyses due to the perception that measuring IT security risk is too difficult because it’s intangible. But if IT departments could soon become accountable for breaches, don’t you want to be able to determine your risk and the threats potentially facing your organization?

In his book, How to Measure Anything, father of Applied Information Economics Douglas Hubbard points out that immeasurability is an illusion and that organizations do, in fact, usually have the information they need to create good risk analyses. Part of the misperception of immeasurability stems from a lack of understanding of what measurement is actually meant to be. According to Hubbard, most people, and executives in particular, expect measurement and analysis to produce an “exact” number—as in, “our organization has a 64.5 percent chance of having a denial of service attack next year.”

Hubbard argues that, as risk analysts, we need to look at measurement more like how scientists look at things—measurement is meant to reduce uncertainty—not to produce certainty—about a quantity based on observation.  Proper measurement should not produce an exact number, but rather a range of possibility, as in “our organization has a 30-60 percent chance of having a denial of service attack next year.” Realistic measurement of risk is far more likely when expressed as a probability distribution with a range of outcomes than in terms of one number or one outcome.

The problem that most often produces “analysis paralysis” is not just the question of how to derive those numbers but also how to get to the information that will help produce those numbers. If you’ve been tasked, for instance, with determining the risk of a breach that has never happened to your organization before, perhaps a denial of service attack against your web presence, how can you make an accurate determination about something that hasn’t happened in the past? Where do you get your data to do your analysis? How do you model that analysis?

In an article published in CSO Magazine, Hubbard argues that organizations have far more data than they think they do and they actually need less data than they may believe they do in order to do proper analyses. Hubbard says that IT departments, in particular, have gotten so used to having information stored in databases that they can easily query, they forget there are many other sources to gather data from. Just because something hasn’t happened yet and you haven’t been gathering historical data on it and socking it away in your database doesn’t mean you either don’t have any data or that you can’t find what you need to measure your risk. Even in the age of Big Data, there is plenty of useful data outside of the big database.

You will still need to gather that data. But you just need enough to be able to measure it accurately not necessarily precisely. In our recently published Open Group Risk Assessment Standard (O-RA), this is called calibration of estimates. Calibration provides a method for making good estimates, which are necessary for deriving a measured range of probability for risk. Section 3 of the O-RA standard uses provides a comprehensive look at how best to come up with calibrated estimates, as well as how to determine other risk factors using the FAIR (Factor Analysis of Information Risk) model.

So where do you get your data if it’s not already stored and easily accessible in a database? There are numerous sources you can turn to, both externally and internally. You just have to do the research to find it. For example, even if your company hasn’t experienced a DNS attack, many others have—what was their experience when it happened? This information is out there online—you just need to search for it. Industry reports are another source of information. Verizon publishes its own annual Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report for one. DatalossDB publishes an open data beach incident database that provides information on data loss incidents worldwide. Many vendors publish annual security reports and issue regular security advisories. Security publications and analyst firms such as CSO, Gartner, Forrester or Securosis all have research reports that data can be gleaned from.

Then there’s your internal information. Chances are your IT department has records you can use—they likely count how many laptops are lost or stolen each year. You should also look to the experts within your company to help. Other people can provide a wealth of valuable information for use in your analysis. You can also look to the data you do have on related or similar attacks as a gauge.

Chances are, you already have the data you need or you can easily find it online. Use it.

With the ever-growing list of threats and risks organizations face today, we are fast reaching a time when failing to measure risk will no longer be acceptable—in the boardroom or even by governments.

Jim Hietala, CISSP, GSEC, is the Vice President, Security for The Open Group, where he manages all IT security and risk management programs and standards activities. He participates in the SANS Analyst/Expert program and has also published numerous articles on information security, risk management, and compliance topics in publications including The ISSA Journal, Bank Accounting & Finance, Risk Factor, SC Magazine, and others.

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Introducing Two New Security Standards for Risk Analysis—Part II – Risk Analysis Standard

By Jim Hietala, VP Security, The Open Group

Last week we took a look at one of the new risk standards recently introduced by The Open Group® Security Forum at the The Open Group London Conference 2013, the Risk Taxonomy Technical Standard 2.0 (O-RT). Today’s blog looks at its sister standard, the Risk Analysis (O-RA) Standard, which provides risk professionals the tools they need to perform thorough risk analyses within their organizations for better decision-making about risk.

Risk Analysis (O-RA) Standard

The new Risk Analysis Standard provides a comprehensive guide for performing effective analysis scenarios within organizations using the Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR™) framework. O-RA is geared toward managing the frequency and magnitude of loss that can arise from a threat, whether human, animal or a natural event–in other words “how often bad things happened and how bad they are when they occur.” Used together, the O-RT and O-RA Standards provide organizations with a way to perform consistent risk modeling, that can not only help thoroughly explain risk factors to stakeholders but allow information security professionals to strengthen existing or create better analysis methods. O-RA may also be used in conjunction with other risk frameworks to perform risk analysis.

The O-RA standard is also meant to provide something more than a mere assessment of risk. Many professionals within the security industry often fail to distinguish between “assessing” risk vs. “analysis” of risk. This standard goes beyond assessment by supporting effective analyses so that risk statements are less vulnerable to problems and are more meaningful and defensible than assessments that provide only the broad risk-ratings (“this is a 4 on a scale of 1-to-5”) normally used in assessments.

O-RA also lays out standard process for approaching risk analysis that can help organizations streamline the way they approach risk measurement. By focusing in on these four core process elements, organizations are able to perform more effective analyses:

  • Clearly identifying and characterizing the assets, threats, controls and impact/loss elements at play within the scenario being assessed
  • Understanding the organizational context for analysis (i.e. what’s at stake from an organizational perspective)
  • Measuring/estimating various risk factors
  • Calculating risk using a model that represents a logical, rational, and useful view of what risk is and how it works.

Because measurement and calculation are essential elements of properly analyzing risk variables, an entire chapter of the standard is dedicated to how to measure and calibrate risk. This chapter lays out a number of useful approaches for establishing risk variables, including establishing baseline risk estimates and ranges; creating distribution ranges and most likely values; using Monte Carlo simulations; accounting for uncertainty; determining accuracy vs. precision and subjective vs. objective criteria; deriving vulnerability; using ordinal scales; and determining diminishing returns.

Finally, a practical, real-world example is provided to take readers through an actual risk analysis scenario. Using the FAIR model, the example outlines the process for dealing with an threat in which an HR executive at a large bank has left the user name and password that allow him access to all the company’s HR systems on a Post-It note tacked onto his computer in his office in clear view of anyone (other employees, cleaning crews, etc.) who comes into the office.

The scenario outlines four stages in assessing this risk:

  1. .    Stage 1: Identify Scenario Components (Scope the Analysis)
  2. .    Stage 2: Evaluate Loss Event Frequency (LEF)
  3. .    Stage 3: Evaluate Loss Magnitude (LM)
  4. .    Stage 4: Derive and Articulate Risk

Each step of the risk analysis process is thoroughly outlined for the scenario to provide Risk Analysts an example of how to perform an analysis process using the FAIR framework. Considerable guidance is provided for stages 2 and 3, in particular, as those are the most critical elements in determining organizational risk.

Ultimately, the O-RA is a guide to help organizations make better decisions about which risks are the most critical for the organization to prioritize and pay attention to versus those that are less important and may not warrant attention. It is critical for Risk Analysts and organizations to become more consistent in this practice because lack of consistency in determining risk among information security professionals has been a major obstacle in allowing security professionals a more legitimate “seat at the table” in the boardroom with other business functions (finance, HR, etc.) within organizations.

For our profession to evolve and grow, consistency and accurate measurement is key. Issues and solutions must be identified consistently and comparisons and measurement must be based on solid foundations, as illustrated below.

Risk2

Chained Dependencies

O-RA can help organizations arrive at better decisions through consistent analysis techniques as well as provide more legitimacy within the profession.  Without a foundation from which to manage information risk, Risk Analysts and information security professionals may rely too heavily on intuition, bias, commercial or personal agendas for their analyses and decision making. By outlining a thorough foundation for Risk Analysis, O-RA provides not only a common foundation for performing risk analyses but the opportunity to make better decisions and advance the security profession.

For more on the O-RA Standard or to download it, please visit: https://www2.opengroup.org/ogsys/catalog/C13G.

Jim Hietala, CISSP, GSEC, is the Vice President, Security for The Open Group, where he manages all IT security and risk management programs and standards activities. He participates in the SANS Analyst/Expert program and has also published numerous articles on information security, risk management, and compliance topics in publications including The ISSA Journal, Bank Accounting & Finance, Risk Factor, SC Magazine, and others.

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Introducing Two New Security Standards for Risk Analysis—Part I – Risk Taxonomy Technical Standard 2.0

By Jim Hietala, VP Security, The Open Group

At the The Open Group London 2013 Conference, The Open Group® announced three new initiatives related to the Security Forum’s work around Risk Management. The first of these was the establishment of a new certification program for Risk Analysts working within the security profession, the Open FAIR Certification Program.  Aimed at providing a professional certification for Risk Analysts, the program will bring a much-needed level of assuredness to companies looking to hire Risk Analysts, certifying that analysts who have completed the Open FAIR program understand the fundamentals of risk analysis and are qualified to perform that analysis.

Forming the basis of the Open FAIR certification program are two new Open Group standards, version 2.0 of the Risk Taxonomy (O-RT) standard originally introduced by the Security Forum in 2009, and a new Risk Analysis (O-RA) Standard, both of which were also announced at the London conference. These standards are the result of ongoing work around risk analysis that the Security Forum has been conducting for a number of years now in order to help organizations better understand and identify their exposure to risk, particularly when it comes to information security risk.

The Risk Taxonomy and Risk Analysis standards not only form the basis and body of knowledge for the Open FAIR certification, but provide practical advice for security practitioners who need to evaluate and counter the potential threats their organization may face.

Today’s blog will look at the first standard, the Risk Taxonomy Technical Standard, version 2.0. Next week, we’ll look at the other standard for Risk Analysis.

Risk Taxonomy (O-RT) Technical Standard 2.0

Originally, published in January 2009, the O-RT is intended to provide a common language and references for security and business professionals who need to understand or analyze risk conditions, providing a common language for them to use when discussing those risks. Version 2.0 of the standard contains a number of updates based both on feedback provided by professionals that have been using the standard and as a result of research conducted by Security Forum member CXOWARE.

The majority of the changes to Version 2.0 are refinements in terminology, including changes in language that better reflect what each term encompasses. For example, the term “Control Strength” in the original standard has now been changed to “Resistance Strength” to reflect that controls used in that part of the taxonomy must be resistive in nature.

More substantive changes were made to the portion of the taxonomy that discusses how Loss Magnitude is evaluated.

Why create a taxonomy for risk?  For two reasons. First, the taxonomy provides a foundation from which risk analysis can be performed and talked about. Second, a tightly defined taxonomy reduces the inability to effectively measure or estimate risk scenarios, leading to better decision making, as illustrated by the following “risk management stack.”

Effective Management


↑

Well-informed Decisions

Effective Comparisons


↑

Meaningful Measurements

Accurate Risk Model

The complete Risk Taxonomy is comprised of two branches: Loss Event Frequency (LEF) and Loss Magnitude (LM), illustrated here:

Risk1

Focusing solely on pure risk (which only results in loss) rather than speculative risk (which might result in either loss or profit), the O-RT is meant to help estimate the probable frequency and magnitude of future loss.

Traditionally LM has been far more difficult to determine than LEF, in part because organizations don’t always perform analyses on their losses or they just stick to evaluating “low hanging fruit” variables rather than delve into determining more complex risk factors. The new taxonomy takes a deep dive into the Loss Magnitude branch of the risk analysis taxonomy providing guidance that will allow Risk Analysts to better tackle the difficult task of determining LM. It includes terminology outlining six specific forms of loss an organization can experience (productivity, response, replacement, fines and judgments, competitive advantage, reputation) as well as how to determine Loss Flow, a new concept in this standard.

The Loss Flow analysis helps identify how a loss may affect both primary (owners, employees, etc.) and secondary (customers, stockholders, regulators, etc.) stakeholders as a result of a threat agent’s action on an asset. The new standard provides a thorough overview on how to assess Loss Flow and identify the loss factors of any given threat.

Finally, the standard also includes a practical, real-world scenario to help analysts understand how to put the taxonomy to use in within their organizations. O-RT provides a common linguistic foundation that will allow security professionals to then perform the risk analyses as outlined in the O-RA Standard.

For more on the Risk Taxonomy Standard or to download it, visit: https://www2.opengroup.org/ogsys/catalog/C13K.

Jim Hietala, CISSP, GSEC, is the Vice President, Security for The Open Group, where he manages all IT security and risk management programs and standards activities. He participates in the SANS Analyst/Expert program and has also published numerous articles on information security, risk management, and compliance topics in publications including The ISSA Journal, Bank Accounting & Finance, Risk Factor, SC Magazine, and others.

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