Managing Information Security Risks

The Octave Approach

Audrey Dorofee, Christopher Alberts

Publisher: Addison-Wesley, 2003, 471 pages

ISBN: 0-321-11886-3

Keywords: Information Security, Risk Management

Last modified: May 19, 2021, 11:40 p.m.

Information security requires far more than the latest tool or technology. Organizations must understand exactly what they are trying to protect — and why — before selecting specific solutions. Security issues are complex and often are rooted in organizational and business concerns. A careful evaluation of security needs and risks in this broader context must precede any security implementation to insure that all the relevant, underlying problems are first uncovered.

The OCTAVE approach for self-directed security evaluations was developed at the influential CERT® Coordination Center. This approach is designed to help you:

  • Identify and rank key information assets
  • Weigh threats to those assets
  • Analyze vulnerabilities involving both technology and practices

OCTAVESM enables any organization to develop security priorities based on the organization's particular business concerns. The approach provides a coherent framework for aligning security actions with overall objectives.

Managing Information Security Risks, written by the developers of OCTAVE, is the complete and authoritative guide to its principles and implementations. The book:

  • Provides a systematic way to evaluate and manage information security risks
  • Illustrates the implementation of self-directed evaluations
  • Shows how to tailor evaluation methods to different types of organizations

Special features of the book include:

  • A running example to illustrate important concepts and techniques
  • A convenient set of evaluation worksheets
  • A catalog of best practices to which organizations can compare their own
  1. Introduction
    1. Managing Information Security Risks
      1. Information Security
        • What Is Information Security?
        • Vulnerability Assessment
        • Information Systems Audit
        • Information Security Risk Evaluation
        • Managed Service Providers
        • Implementing a Risk Management Approach
      2. Information Security Risk Evaluation and Management
        • Evaluation Activities
        • Risk Evaluation and Management
      3. An Approach to Information Security Risk Evaluations
        • OCTAVE Approach
        • Information Security Risk
        • Three Phases
        • OCTAVE Variations
        • Common Elements
    2. Principles and Attributes of Information Security Evaluations
      1. Introduction
      2. Information Security Risk Management Principles
        1. Information Security Risk Evaluation Principles
        2. Risk Management Principles
        3. Organizational and Cultural Principles
      3. Information Security Risk Evaluation Attributes
      4. Information Security Risk Evaluation Outputs
        1. Phase 1: Build Asset-Based Threat Profiles
        2. Phase 2: Identify Infrastructure Vulnerabilities
        3. Phase 3: Develop Security Strategy and Plans
  2. The OCTAVE Method
    1. Introduction to the OCTAVE Method
      1. Overview of the OCTAVE Method
        1. Preparation
        2. Phase 1: Build Asset-Based Threat Profiles
        3. Phase 2: Identify Infrastructure Vulnerabilities
        4. Phase 3: Develop Security Strategy and Plans
      2. Mapping Attributes and Outputs
        1. Attributes and the OCTAVE Method
        2. Outputs and the OCTAVE Method
      3. Introduction to the Sample Scenario
    2. Preparing for OCTAVE
      1. Overview of Preparation
      2. Obtain Senior Management Sponsorship of OCTAVE
      3. Select Analysis Team Members
      4. Select Operational Areas to Participate in OCTAVE
      5. Select Participants
      6. Coordinate Logistics
      7. Sample Scenario
    3. Identifying Organizational Knowledge (Processes 1-3)
      1. Overview of Processes 1 to 3
      2. Identify Assets and Relative Priorities
      3. Identify Areas of Concern
      4. Identify Security Requirements for Most Important Assets
      5. Capture Knowledge of Current Security Practices and Organizational Vulnerabilities
    4. Creating Threat Profiles (Process 4)
      1. Overview of Process 4
      2. Before the Workshop: Consolidate Information from Process 1 to 3
      3. Select Critical Assets
      4. Refine Security Requirements for Critical Assets
      5. Identify Threats to Critical Assets
    5. Identifying Key Components (Process 5)
      1. Overview of Process 5
      2. Identify Key Classes of Components
      3. Identify Infrastructure Components to Examine
    6. Evaluating Selected Components (Process 6)
      1. Overview of Process 6
      2. Before the Workshop: Run Vulnerability Evaluation Tools on Selected Infrastructure Components
      3. Review Technology Vulnerabilities and Summarize Results
    7. Conducting Risk Analysis (Process 7)
      1. Overview of Process 7
      2. Identify the Impact of Threats to Critical Assets
      3. Create Risk Evaluation Criteria
      4. Evaluate the Impact of Threats to Critical Assets
      5. Incorporating Probability into the Risk Analysis
        1. What Is Probability?
        2. Probability in the OCTAVE Method
    8. Developing a Protection Strategy — Workshop A (Process 8)
      1. Overview of Process 8A
      2. Before the Workshop: Consolidate Information from Process 1 to 3
      3. Review Risk Information
      4. Create Protection Strategy
      5. Create Risk Mitigation Plans
      6. Create Action List
      7. Incorporating Probability into Risk Mitigation
    9. Select Protection Strategy — Workshop B (Process 8B)
      1. Overview of Process 8B
      2. Before the Workshop: Prepare to Meet with Senior Management
      3. Present Risk Information
      4. Review and Refine Protection Strategy, Mitigation Plans, and Action List
      5. Create Next Steps
      6. Summary of Part II
  3. Variations on the OCTAVE Approach
    1. An Introduction to Tailoring OCTAVE
      1. The Range of Possibilities
      2. Tailoring the OCTAVE Method to Your Organization
        1. Tailoring the Evaluation
        2. Tailoring Artificats
    2. Practical Applications
      1. Introduction
      2. The Small Organization
        1. Company S
        2. Implementing OCTAVE in Small Organizations
      3. Very Large, Dispersed Organizations
      4. Integrated Web Portal Service Providers
      5. Large and Small Organizations
      6. Other Considerations
    3. Information Security Risk Management
      1. Introduction
      2. A Framework for Managing Information Security Risk
        1. Identify
        2. Analyze
        3. Plan
        4. Implement
        5. Monitor
        6. Control
      3. Implementing Information Security Risk Management
      4. Summary
  1. Case Scenario for the OCTAVE Method
    1. MedSite OCTAVE Final Report: Introduction
    2. Protection Strategy for MedSite
      1. Near-Term Action Items
    3. Risks and Mitigation Plans for Critical Assets
      1. Paper Medical Records
      2. Personal Computers
      3. PIDS
      4. ABC Systems
      5. ECDS
    4. Technology Vulnerability Evaluation Results and Recommended Actions
    5. Additional Information
      1. Risk Impact Evaluation Criteria
      2. Other Assets
      3. Consolidated Survey Results
  2. Worksheets
    1. Knowledge Elicitation Worksheets
      1. Asset Worksheet
      2. Areas of Concern Worksheet
      3. Security Requirements Worksheet
      4. Practice Survey
      5. Protection Strategy Worksheet
    2. Asset Profile Worksheets
      1. Critical Asset Information
      2. Security Requirements
      3. Threat Profile for Critical Asset
      4. System(s) of Interest
      5. Key Classes of Components
      6. Infrastructure Components to Examine
      7. Summarize Technology Vulnerabilities
      8. Record Action Items
      9. Risk Impact Descriptions
      10. Risk Evaluation Criteria Worksheet
      11. Risk Profile Worksheet
      12. Risk Mitigation Plans
    3. Strategies and Actions
      1. Current Security Practices Worksheets
      2. Protection Strategy Worksheets
      3. Action List Worksheet
  3. Catalog of Practices


Managing Information Security Risks

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

Very Good ******** (8 out of 10)

Last modified: May 21, 2007, 3:12 a.m.

This is a book that has taken a lot of unnecessary flack from people that don't really understand that there is a audience for books that address the professional audience and therefore doesn't really need a lot of handholding.

This is an excellent book about a method for analysis of security requirements. You may or may not agree on all details, but it is definetely worth reading if you're in the business. Be forewarned, this is no beginners book! Oh, and the term OCTAVE stands for: Operationally Critical Threat, Asset, and Vulnerability Evaluation, just so you know…


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