0132786796 CISSP All In One Exam Guide 6e

CISSP%20All-in-One%20Exam%20Guide%206e

CISSP%20All-in-One%20Exam%20Guide%206e

User Manual:

Open the PDF directly: View PDF PDF.
Page Count: 1472

Download0132786796 CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide 6e
Open PDF In BrowserView PDF
ALL IN ONE
®

CISSP

EXAM GUIDE
Sixth Edition

Shon Harris

New York • Chicago • San Francisco • Lisbon
London • Madrid • Mexico City • Milan • New Delhi
San Juan • Seoul • Singapore • Sydney • Toronto
McGraw-Hill is an independent entity from (ISC)2® and is not affiliated with (ISC)2 in any manner. This study/training guide and/or
material is not sponsored by, endorsed by, or affiliated with (ISC)2 in any manner. This publication and digital content may be used
in assisting students to prepare for the CISSP exam. Neither (ISC) 2 nor McGraw-Hill warrant that use of this publication and digital
content will ensure passing any exam. (ISC) 2®, CISSP®, CAP®, ISSAP®, ISSEP® ISSMP®, SSCP® and CBK® are trademarks or registered
trademarks of (ISC) 2 in the United States and certain other countries. All other trademarks are trademarks of their respective owners.

Copyright © 2013 by McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the United States Copyright Act of
1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval
system, without the prior written permission of the publisher, with the exception that the program listings may be entered, stored,
and executed in a computer system, but they may not be reproduced for publication.
ISBN: 978-0-07-178173-2
MHID: 0-07-178173-0
The material in this eBook also appears in the print version of this title: ISBN: 978-0-07-178174-9,
MHID: 0-07-178174-9.
All trademarks are trademarks of their respective owners. Rather than put a trademark symbol after every occurrence of a
trademarked name, we use names in an editorial fashion only, and to the benefit of the trademark owner, with no intention of
infringement of the trademark. Where such designations appear in this book, they have been printed with initial caps.
McGraw-Hill eBooks are available at special quantity discounts to use as premiums and sales promotions, or for use in corporate
training programs. To contact a representative please e-mail us at bulksales@mcgraw-hill.com.
Information has been obtained by McGraw-Hill from sources believed to be reliable. However, because of the possibility of
human or mechanical error by our sources, McGraw-Hill, or others, McGraw-Hill does not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, or
completeness of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or the results obtained from the use of such
information.
TERMS OF USE
This is a copyrighted work and The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (“McGraw-Hill”) and its licensors reserve all rights in and to
the work. Use of this work is subject to these terms. Except as permitted under the Copyright Act of 1976 and the right to store and
retrieve one copy of the work, you may not decompile, disassemble, reverse engineer, reproduce, modify, create derivative works
based upon, transmit, distribute, disseminate, sell, publish or sublicense the work or any part of it without McGraw-Hill’s prior
consent. You may use the work for your own noncommercial and personal use; any other use of the work is strictly prohibited. Your
right to use the work may be terminated if you fail to comply with these terms.
THE WORK IS PROVIDED “AS IS.” McGRAW-HILL AND ITS LICENSORS MAKE NO GUARANTEES OR
WARRANTIES AS TO THE ACCURACY, ADEQUACY OR COMPLETENESS OF OR RESULTS TO BE OBTAINED FROM
USING THE WORK, INCLUDING ANY INFORMATION THAT CAN BE ACCESSED THROUGH THE WORK VIA HYPERLINK OR OTHERWISE, AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT
LIMITED TO IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.
McGraw-Hill and its licensors do not warrant or guarantee that the functions contained in the work will meet your requirements
or that its operation will be uninterrupted or error free. Neither McGraw-Hill nor its licensors shall be liable to you or anyone else
for any inaccuracy, error or omission, regardless of cause, in the work or for any damages resulting therefrom. McGraw-Hill has
no responsibility for the content of any information accessed through the work. Under no circumstances shall McGraw-Hill and/or
its licensors be liable for any indirect, incidental, special, punitive, consequential or similar damages that result from the use of or
inability to use the work, even if any of them has been advised of the possibility of such damages. This limitation of liability shall
apply to any claim or cause whatsoever whether such claim or cause arises in contract, tort or otherwise.

I dedicate this book to some of the most wonderful people
I have lost over the last several years.
My grandfather (George Fairbairn), who taught me about
integrity, unconditional love, and humility.
My grandmother (Marge Fairbairn), who taught me about the importance
of living life to the fullest, having “fun fun,” and of course, black jack.
My dad (Tom Conlon), who taught me how to be strong and face adversity.
My father-in-law (Maynard Harris), who taught me
a deep meaning of the importance of family that I never knew before.
Each person was a true role model to me. I learned a lot from them,
I appreciate all that they have done for me, and I miss them terribly.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shon Harris is the founder and CEO of Shon Harris Security LLC and Logical Security
LLC, a security consultant, a former engineer in the Air Force’s Information Warfare
unit, an instructor, and an author. Shon has owned and run her own training and consulting companies since 2001. She consults with Fortune 100 corporations and government agencies on extensive security issues. She has authored three best-selling CISSP
books, was a contributing author to Gray Hat Hacking: The Ethical Hacker’s Handbook
and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Implementation, and a technical
editor for Information Security Magazine. Shon has also developed many digital security
products for Pearson Publishing.

About the Technical Editor
Polisetty Veera Subrahmanya Kumar, CISSP, CISA, PMP, PMI-RMP, MCPM, ITIL, has
more than two decades of experience in the field of Information Technology. His areas
of specialization include information security, business continuity, project management, and risk management. In the recent past he served his term as Chairperson for
Project Management Institute’s PMI-RMP (PMI - Risk Management Professional) Credentialing Committee and was a member of ISACA’s India Growth Task Force team. In
the past he worked as content development team leader on a variety of PMI standards
development projects. He was a lead instructor for the PMI PMBOK review seminars.

CONTENTS AT A GLANCE
Chapter 1

Becoming a CISSP

......................................

Chapter 2

Information Security Governance and Risk Management

Chapter 3

Access Control

Chapter 4

Security Architecture and Design

Chapter 5

Physical and Environmental Security

Chapter 6

Telecommunications and Network Security

Chapter 7

Cryptography

Chapter 8

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Chapter 9

Legal, Regulations, Compliance, and Investigations

1

........

21

........................................

157

..........................

297

........................

427

..................

515

..........................................

759

..................
.............

885
979

Chapter 10

Software Development Security

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1081

Chapter 11

Security Operations

Appendix A

Comprehensive Questions

Appendix B

About the Download . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1379
Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . G-1
Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1385

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1233
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1319

v

This page intentionally left blank

CONTENTS
Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
xx
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxiii

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Becoming a CISSP

......................................

1

Why Become a CISSP? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The CISSP Exam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
CISSP: A Brief History
...................................
How Do You Sign Up for the Exam?
........................
What Does This Book Cover? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Tips for Taking the CISSP Exam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
How to Use This Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Answers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1
2
6
7
7
8
9
10
19

Information Security Governance and Risk Management

........

21

Fundamental Principles of Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Availability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Integrity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Confidentiality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Balanced Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Security Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Control Types
.........................................
Security Frameworks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
ISO/IEC 27000 Series . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Enterprise Architecture Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Security Controls Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
COSO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Process Management Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Functionality vs. Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Security Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Risk Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Who Really Understands Risk Management? . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Information Risk Management Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Risk Management Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Risk Assessment and Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Risk Analysis Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Value of Information and Assets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Costs That Make Up the Value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Identifying Vulnerabilities and Threats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Methodologies for Risk Assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Risk Analysis Approaches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

22
23
23
24
24
26
28
34
36
41
55
59
60
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
76
77
78
85

vii

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

viii
Qualitative Risk Analysis
............................
Protection Mechanisms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Putting It Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Total Risk vs. Residual Risk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Handling Risk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Outsourcing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Policies, Standards, Baselines, Guidelines,
and Procedures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Security Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Standards
........................................
Baselines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Procedures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Implementation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Information Classification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Classifications Levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Classification Controls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Layers of Responsibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Board of Directors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Executive Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Chief Information Officer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Chief Privacy Officer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Chief Security Officer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Security Steering Committee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Audit Committee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Data Owner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Data Custodian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
System Owner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Security Administrator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Security Analyst . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Application Owner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Supervisor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Change Control Analyst . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Data Analyst . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Process Owner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Solution Provider . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
User . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Product Line Manager . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Auditor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Why So Many Roles? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Personnel Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hiring Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Termination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Security-Awareness Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Degree or Certification? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Security Governance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Metrics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

89
92
96
96
97
100
101
102
105
106
106
107
108
109
110
113
114
115
116
118
118
119
120
121
121
122
122
122
123
123
123
124
124
124
124
125
125
125
126
126
128
129
130
131
132
132

Contents

ix
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Quick Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Answers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chapter 3

Access Control

137
138
141
150

........................................

157

Access Controls Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Security Principles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Availability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Integrity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Confidentiality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Identification, Authentication, Authorization,
and Accountability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Identification and Authentication
.....................
Password Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Authorization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Access Control Models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Discretionary Access Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mandatory Access Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Role-Based Access Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Access Control Techniques and Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Rule-Based Access Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Constrained User Interfaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Access Control Matrix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Content-Dependent Access Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Context-Dependent Access Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Access Control Administration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Centralized Access Control Administration . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Decentralized Access Control Administration . . . . . . . . . . . .
Access Control Methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Access Control Layers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Administrative Controls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Physical Controls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Technical Controls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Accountability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Review of Audit Information
.........................
Protecting Audit Data and Log Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Keystroke Monitoring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Access Control Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Unauthorized Disclosure of Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Access Control Monitoring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Intrusion Detection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Intrusion Prevention Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Threats to Access Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Dictionary Attack
..................................
Brute Force Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Spoofing at Logon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

157
158
159
159
160
160
162
174
203
219
220
221
224
227
227
228
229
231
231
232
233
240
241
241
242
243
245
248
250
251
251
252
253
255
255
265
268
269
270
270

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

x
Phishing and Pharming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Threat Modeling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Quick Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Answers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chapter 4

Security Architecture and Design

271
273
277
277
282
291

..........................

297

Computer Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
System Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Computer Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Central Processing Unit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Multiprocessing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Operating System Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Memory Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Virtual Memory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Input/Output Device Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
CPU Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Operating System Architectures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Virtual Machines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
System Security Architecture
..............................
Security Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Security Architecture Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Security Models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
State Machine Models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Bell-LaPadula Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Biba Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Clark-Wilson Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Information Flow Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Noninterference Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Lattice Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Brewer and Nash Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Graham-Denning Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Harrison-Ruzzo-Ullman Model
.......................
Security Modes of Operation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Dedicated Security Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
System High-Security Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Compartmented Security Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Multilevel Security Mode
............................
Trust and Assurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Systems Evaluation Methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Why Put a Product Through Evaluation? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Orange Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Orange Book and the Rainbow Series . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Red Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Information Technology Security
Evaluation Criteria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

298
300
303
304
309
312
325
337
340
342
347
355
357
357
359
365
367
369
372
374
377
380
381
383
384
385
386
387
387
387
388
390
391
391
392
397
398
399

Contents

xi
Common Criteria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Certification vs. Accreditation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Certification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Accreditation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Open vs. Closed Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Open Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Closed Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A Few Threats to Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Maintenance Hooks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Time-of-Check/Time-of-Use Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Quick Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Answers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Physical and Environmental Security

402
406
406
406
408
408
408
409
409
410
412
413
416
423

........................

427

Introduction to Physical Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Planning Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design . . . . . . . .
Designing a Physical Security Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Protecting Assets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Internal Support Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Electric Power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Environmental Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ventilation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Fire Prevention, Detection, and Suppression . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Perimeter Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Facility Access Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Personnel Access Controls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
External Boundary Protection Mechanisms . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Intrusion Detection Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Patrol Force and Guards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Dogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Auditing Physical Access . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Testing and Drills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Quick Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Answers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

427
430
435
442
457
458
459
465
467
467
475
476
483
484
493
497
497
498
498
499
499
502
509

Telecommunications and Network Security

..................

515

Telecommunications
....................................
Open Systems Interconnection Reference Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Protocol . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Application Layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Presentation Layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Session Layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

517
517
518
521
522
523

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

xii
Transport Layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Network Layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Data Link Layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Physical Layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Functions and Protocols in the OSI Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Tying the Layers Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
TCP/IP Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
TCP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
IP Addressing
.....................................
IPv6
............................................
Layer 2 Security Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Types of Transmission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Analog and Digital . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Asynchronous and Synchronous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Broadband and Baseband . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Cabling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Coaxial Cable . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Twisted-Pair Cable
.................................
Fiber-Optic Cable . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Cabling Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Networking Foundations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Network Topology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Media Access Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Network Protocols and Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Domain Name Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
E-mail Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Network Address Translation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Routing Protocols . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Networking Devices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Repeaters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Bridges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Routers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Switches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Gateways . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
PBXs
............................................
Firewalls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Proxy Servers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Honeypot
........................................
Unified Threat Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Cloud Computing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Intranets and Extranets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Metropolitan Area Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wide Area Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Telecommunications Evolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Dedicated Links
...................................
WAN Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

525
527
528
530
530
532
534
535
541
544
547
550
550
552
554
556
557
557
558
560
562
563
565
580
590
599
604
608
612
612
613
615
617
621
624
628
653
655
656
657
660
663
665
666
669
673

Contents

xiii
Remote Connectivity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Dial-up Connections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
ISDN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
DSL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Cable Modems
....................................
VPN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Authentication Protocols . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wireless Technologies
...................................
Wireless Communications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
WLAN Components
................................
Wireless Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
War Driving for WLANs
.............................
Satellites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mobile Wireless Communication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mobile Phone Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Quick Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Answers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chapter 7

Cryptography

695
695
697
698
700
702
709
712
712
716
723
728
729
730
736
739
740
744
753

..........................................

759

The History of Cryptography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Cryptography Definitions and Concepts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Kerckhoffs’ Principle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Strength of the Cryptosystem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Services of Cryptosystems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
One-Time Pad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Running and Concealment Ciphers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Steganography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Types of Ciphers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Substitution Ciphers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Transposition Ciphers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Methods of Encryption . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Symmetric vs. Asymmetric Algorithms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Symmetric Cryptography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Block and Stream Ciphers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hybrid Encryption Methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Types of Symmetric Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Data Encryption Standard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Triple-DES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Advanced Encryption Standard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
International Data Encryption Algorithm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Blowfish
.........................................
RC4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
RC5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
RC6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

760
765
767
768
769
771
773
774
777
778
778
781
782
782
787
792
800
800
808
809
809
810
810
810
810

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

xiv
Types of Asymmetric Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Diffie-Hellman Algorithm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
RSA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
El Gamal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Elliptic Curve Cryptosystems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Knapsack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Zero Knowledge Proof . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Message Integrity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The One-Way Hash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Various Hashing Algorithms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
MD2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
MD4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
MD5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Attacks Against One-Way Hash Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Digital Signatures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Digital Signature Standard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Public Key Infrastructure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Certificate Authorities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Certificates
.......................................
The Registration Authority . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
PKI Steps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Key Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Key Management Principles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Rules for Keys and Key Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Trusted Platform Module . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
TPM Uses
........................................
Link Encryption vs. End-to-End Encryption . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
E-mail Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Pretty Good Privacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Internet Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Start with the Basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ciphertext-Only Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Known-Plaintext Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Chosen-Plaintext Attacks
............................
Chosen-Ciphertext Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Differential Cryptanalysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Linear Cryptanalysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Side-Channel Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Replay Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Algebraic Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Analytic Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Statistical Attacks
..................................
Social Engineering Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Meet-in-the-Middle Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

812
812
815
818
818
819
819
820
820
826
826
826
827
827
829
832
833
834
837
837
838
840
841
842
843
843
845
849
849
850
853
854
865
865
865
866
866
866
867
867
868
868
868
869
869
869

Contents

xv
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Quick Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Answers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning

870
871
874
880

...........

885

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Standards and Best Practices
.........................
Making BCM Part of the Enterprise Security Program . . . . . .
BCP Project Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Scope of the Project
................................
BCP Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Project Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Business Continuity Planning Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Business Impact Analysis (BIA) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Interdependencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Preventive Measures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Recovery Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Business Process Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Facility Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Supply and Technology Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Choosing a Software Backup Facility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
End-User Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Data Backup Alternatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Electronic Backup Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
High Availability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Recovery and Restoration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Developing Goals for the Plans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Implementing Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Testing and Revising the Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Checklist Test
.....................................
Structured Walk-Through Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Simulation Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Parallel Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Full-Interruption Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Other Types of Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Emergency Response . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Maintaining the Plan
...............................
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Quick Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Answers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

887
890
893
897
899
901
901
904
905
912
913
914
918
919
926
930
933
934
938
941
944
945
949
951
953
955
955
955
955
956
956
956
958
961
961
964
972

Legal, Regulations, Investigations, and Compliance

.............

979

The Many Facets of Cyberlaw . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Crux of Computer Crime Laws . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

980
981

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

xvi
Complexities in Cybercrime . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Electronic Assets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Evolution of Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
International Issues
................................
Types of Legal Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Intellectual Property Laws . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Trade Secret . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Copyright
........................................
Trademark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Patent
...........................................
Internal Protection of Intellectual Property . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Software Piracy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Privacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Increasing Need for Privacy Laws . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Laws, Directives, and Regulations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Liability and Its Ramifications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Personal Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hacker Intrusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Third-Party Risk
...................................
Contractual Agreements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Procurement and Vendor Processes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Compliance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Investigations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Incident Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Incident Response Procedures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Computer Forensics and Proper Collection of Evidence . . . .
International Organization on Computer Evidence . . . . . . . .
Motive, Opportunity, and Means . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Computer Criminal Behavior . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Incident Investigators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Forensics Investigation Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
What Is Admissible in Court? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Surveillance, Search, and Seizure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Interviewing and Interrogating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A Few Different Attack Types
.........................
Cybersquatting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ethics
................................................
The Computer Ethics Institute . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Internet Architecture Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Corporate Ethics Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Quick Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Answers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

983
985
986
990
994
998
999
1000
1001
1001
1003
1004
1006
1008
1009
1022
1027
1027
1028
1029
1029
1030
1032
1033
1037
1042
1043
1044
1044
1045
1046
1053
1057
1058
1058
1061
1061
1062
1063
1064
1065
1065
1069
1076

Contents

xvii
Chapter 10

Software Development Security

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1081

Software’s Importance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Where Do We Place Security? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Different Environments Demand Different Security . . . . . . .
Environment versus Application . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Functionality versus Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Implementation and Default Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
System Development Life Cycle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Initiation
........................................
Acquisition/Development
...........................
Implementation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Operations/Maintenance
............................
Disposal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Software Development Life Cycle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Project Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Requirements Gathering Phase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Design Phase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Development Phase
................................
Testing/Validation Phase
............................
Release/Maintenance Phase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Secure Software Development Best Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Software Development Models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Build and Fix Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Waterfall Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
V-Shaped Model (V-Model) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Prototyping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Incremental Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Spiral Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Rapid Application Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Agile Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Capability Maturity Model Integration
......................
Change Control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Software Configuration Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Programming Languages and Concepts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Assemblers, Compilers, Interpreters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Object-Oriented Concepts
...........................
Distributed Computing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Distributed Computing Environment
..................
CORBA and ORBs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
COM and DCOM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Java Platform, Enterprise Edition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Service-Oriented Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mobile Code . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Java Applets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
ActiveX Controls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1081
1082
1083
1084
1085
1086
1087
1089
1091
1092
1092
1093
1095
1096
1096
1098
1102
1104
1106
1108
1111
1111
1112
1112
1113
1114
1115
1116
1118
1120
1122
1124
1125
1128
1130
1142
1142
1143
1146
1148
1148
1153
1154
1156

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

xviii
Web Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Specific Threats for Web Environments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Web Application Security Principles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Database Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Database Management Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Database Models . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Database Programming Interfaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Relational Database Components
.....................
Integrity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Database Security Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Data Warehousing and Data Mining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Expert Systems/Knowledge-Based Systems
...................
Artificial Neural Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Malicious Software (Malware) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Viruses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Worms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Rootkit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Spyware and Adware . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Botnets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Logic Bombs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Trojan Horses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Antivirus Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Spam Detection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Antimalware Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Quick Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Answers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Chapter 11

Security Operations

1157
1158
1167
1168
1170
1170
1176
1177
1180
1183
1188
1192
1195
1197
1199
1202
1202
1204
1204
1206
1206
1207
1210
1212
1214
1215
1220
1227

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1233

The Role of the Operations Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Administrative Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Security and Network Personnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Accountability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Clipping Levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Assurance Levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Operational Responsibilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Unusual or Unexplained Occurrences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Deviations from Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Unscheduled Initial Program Loads (aka Rebooting) . . . . . .
Asset Identification and Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
System Controls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Trusted Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Input and Output Controls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
System Hardening . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Remote Access Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1234
1235
1237
1239
1239
1240
1240
1241
1241
1242
1242
1243
1244
1246
1248
1250

Contents

xix
Configuration Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Change Control Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Change Control Documentation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Media Controls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Data Leakage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Network and Resource Availability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mean Time Between Failures
.........................
Mean Time to Repair
...............................
Single Points of Failure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Backups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Contingency Planning
..............................
Mainframes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
E-mail Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
How E-mail Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Facsimile Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hack and Attack Methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Vulnerability Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Penetration Testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Wardialing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Other Vulnerability Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Postmortem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Quick Tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Answers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Appendix A

Comprehensive Questions
Answers

Appendix B

1251
1252
1253
1254
1262
1263
1264
1264
1265
1273
1276
1277
1279
1281
1283
1285
1295
1298
1302
1303
1305
1307
1307
1309
1315

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1319

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1357

About the Download . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1379
Downloading the Total Tester . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Total Tester System Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Installing and Running Total Tester . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
About Total Tester CISSP Practice Exam Software . . . . . . . . . . .
Media Center Download . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Cryptography Video Sample . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Technical Support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1379
1379
1379
1380
1380
1380
1382

Glossary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . G-1
Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1385

FOREWORDS
This year marks my 39th year in the security business, with 26 of those concentrating
on information security. What changes we have seen over that period: from computers
the size of rooms that had to be cooled with water to phones that from a computing
aspect are orders of magnitude more powerful than the computers NASA used to land
man on the moon.
While we have watched in awe, the technology has evolved and our quality of life
has improved. As examples, we can make payments from our phones, our cars are
operated by computers that optimize performance and fuel economy, and we can
check in and get our boarding passes from our hotel room.
Unfortunately there are those who see these advances as opportunities for them
personally or their organization to gain politically or financially by finding vulnerabilities within these technologies and exploit them to their advantage.
To combat these adversaries the information security specialty evolved. One of the
first organizations to formerly recognize this specialty was (ISC)2, which was founded
in 1988. In 1994 (ISC)2 created the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential and conducted the first examination. This credential gave
assurance to managers and employers (and potential employers) that the holder possessed a baseline understanding of the ten domains that comprise the Common Body
of Knowledge (CBK).
The CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide by Shon Harris is one of many publications designed to prepare a potential CISSP exam taker for the exam. I admittedly have probably not seen every one of these guides, but I would argue that I have seen most. The
difference between Shon’s book and the others is that her book doesn’t try to teach
the exam, and as such, her book teaches the material one needs to pass the exam. This
means that when the exam is over and the credential has been awarded, Shon’s book
will still be on your bookshelf (or tablet) as a valuable reference guide.
I have known Shon for close to 15 years and continue to be struck by her dedication, ethics, and honor. She is the most dedicated advocate of our profession I have
met. She works constantly to improve her materials so learners at all levels can better
understand the topics. She has developed a learning model that helps make sure everyone in an organization from the bottom to the C-suite know what they need to
know to make informed choices resulting in due diligence with the data entrusted to
them.
It is a privilege to have the opportunity to help introduce this work to the perspective CISSP. I’m a huge Shon fan and I think that after learning from this book, you will
be too. Enjoy your experience and know that your work in achieving this credential
will be worth the effort.
Tom Madden, MPA, CISSP, CISM
Chief Information Security Officer for the Centers for Disease Control

xx

Forewords

xxi
Today’s cybersecurity landscape is an ever-changing environment where the greatest
vector of attack is our normal activities, e-mail, surfing, etc. The adversary can and will
continue to use mobile apps, e-mail (phishing, spam), the Web (redirects), and other
tools of our day-to-day activities to get to intellectual property, personal information, and
other sensitive data. Hactivists, criminals, and terrorists use this information to gain unauthorized access to systems and sensitive data. Hactivists commonly use the information that is gathered during attacks to support and convey messages that support their
agenda. According to Symantec, there were 163 new vulnerabilities associated with mobile computing, 286 million unique malware variants, a 93 percent increase in web attacks, and 260,000 identities exposed in 2010. McAffee reported that during the first two
quarters of 2011 there were 16,200 new websites with malicious reputations, and an average of 2,600 new phishing sites appeared each day.
We have also seen the proliferation of new technologies into our day-to-day activities. New smart phones and tablets have become as common as the home computer.
New tools mean new vulnerabilities that cybersecurity experts must deal with. Information technology implementers tend to design and implement quickly. One of the most
underdiscussed aspects of new technology is the risks it may pose to the overall system
or organization. Tech departments, in conjunction with the CSO/CISO, need to find
the best way to utilize the new technology, but with security (physical and cyber) a very
strong part of the deployment strategy.
Training and awareness are important to help end users, cybersecurity practitioners,
and CxOs understand what effect their actions have within the organization. Even what
technology users do at home when they telework and connect to the business network
or carry home data could have consequences. Security policy and its enforcement will
also aid in establishing a stronger security baseline. Organizations have realized this
and many of those organizations have begun writing and implementing acceptable-use
policies for their networks. These policies, if properly enforced, will help minimize
adverse events on their networks.
There will never be one solution that can solve the cybersecurity challenges. Defense-in-depth, best business practices, training and awareness, and timely information
sharing are going to be the techniques used to minimize the impact of cyber adversaries. Cyber experts need to keep their leadership informed of the latest threats and methods to minimize effects from those threats. Many of the day-to-day actions and decisions
a CFO, CEO, COO, etc., make will have an impact on the mission; security decisions
must be part of that process as well.
The CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide has been a staple of my reference library well after
obtaining my certification. Shon Harris has written and continues to improve this comprehensive study guide. Individuals at all levels of an organization, especially those
with a role in cybersecurity, should strive to get the CISSP. This study guide is a key part
to successfully gaining this certification. Prepping for and obtaining the CISSP can be
an important tool in the cyber expert’s toolkit. The ten domains associated with the
CISSP assist individuals at all levels to look at information security from many angles.
One tends to focus on one aspect of the information security field; the CISSP opens our

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

xxii
eyes to multiple aspects of issues. It provides the security professional an overall perspective of cybersecurity. From policy-related domains to technical domains, the CISSP
and this study guide tie many aspects of cybersecurity together. Even if that is not part
of your immediate training plan, this book will help any person become a better security practitioner and improve the security posture of their organization.
Randy Vickers
Alexa Strategies, Inc.
Cybersecurity Strategist and Consultant
Former Director of the US CERT and former Chief of the DoD CERT (JTF-GNO)

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I would like to thank all the people who work in the information security industry who
are driven by their passion, dedication, and a true sense of doing right. The best security people are the ones who are driven toward an ethical outcome.
I would like to thank so many people in the industry who have taken the time to
reach out to me and let me know how my work directly affects their lives. I appreciate
the time and effort people put in just to send me these kind words.
For my sixth edition, I would also like to thank the following individuals:
• David Miller, whose work ethic, loyalty, and friendship have inspired me. I am
truly grateful to have David as part of my life. I never would have known the
secret world of tequila without him.
• Clement Dupuis, who, with his deep passion for sharing and helping others,
has proven a wonderful and irreplaceable friend.
• My company team members: Susan Young and Teresa Griffin. I never express
my deep appreciation for each one of you enough.
• Greg Andelora, the graphic artist who created several of the graphics for this
book and my other projects. We tragically lost him at a young age and miss
him.
• Tom Madden and Randy Vickers, for their wonderful forewords to this book.
• My editor, Tim Green, and acquisitions coordinator, Stephanie Evans, who
sometimes have to practice the patience of Job when dealing with me on these
projects.
• The military personnel who have fought so hard over the last ten years in two
wars and have given such sacrifice.
• My best friend and mother, Kathy Conlon, who is always there for me through
thick and thin.
Most especially, I would like to thank my husband, David Harris, for his continual
support and love. Without his steadfast confidence in me, I would not have been able
to accomplish half the things I have taken on in my life.

xxiii

To obtain material from the disk that
accompanies the printed version of
this e-Book, please follow the instructions
in Appendix B, About the Download.
please click here.

CHAPTER

Becoming a CISSP
This chapter presents the following:
• Description of the CISSP certification
• Reasons to become a CISSP
• What the CISSP exam entails
• The Common Body of Knowledge and what it contains
• The history of (ISC)2 and the CISSP exam
• An assessment test to gauge your current knowledge of security

This book is intended not only to provide you with the necessary information to help
you gain a CISSP certification, but also to welcome you into the exciting and challenging world of security.
The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam covers ten
different subject areas, more commonly referred to as domains. The subject matter of
each domain can easily be seen as its own area of study, and in many cases individuals
work exclusively in these fields as experts. For many of these subjects, you can consult
and reference extensive resources to become an expert in that area. Because of this, a
common misconception is that the only way to succeed at the CISSP exam is to immerse yourself in a massive stack of texts and study materials. Fortunately, an easier
approach exists. By using this sixth edition of the CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide, you can
successfully complete and pass the CISSP exam and achieve your CISSP certification.
The goal of this book is to combine into a single resource all the information you need
to pass the CISSP exam and help you understand how the domains interact with each
other so that you can develop a comprehensive approach to security practices. This
book should also serve as a useful reference tool long after you’ve achieved your CISSP
certification.

Why Become a CISSP?
As our world changes, the need for improvements in security and technology continues
to grow. Security was once a hot issue only in the field of technology, but now it is becoming more and more a part of our everyday lives. Security is a concern of every organization, government agency, corporation, and military unit. Ten years ago computer
and information security was an obscure field that only concerned a few people. Because
the risks were essentially low, few were interested in security expertise.

1

1

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

2
Things have changed, however, and today corporations and other organizations are
desperate to recruit talented and experienced security professionals to help protect the
resources they depend on to run their businesses and to remain competitive. With a
CISSP certification, you will be seen as a security professional of proven ability who has
successfully met a predefined standard of knowledge and experience that is well understood and respected throughout the industry. By keeping this certification current, you
will demonstrate your dedication to staying abreast of security developments.
Consider the reasons for attaining a CISSP certification:
• To meet the growing demand and to thrive in an ever-expanding field
• To broaden your current knowledge of security concepts and practices
• To bring security expertise to your current occupation
• To become more marketable in a competitive workforce
• To show a dedication to the security discipline
• To increase your salary and be eligible for more employment opportunities
The CISSP certification helps companies identify which individuals have the ability,
knowledge, and experience necessary to implement solid security practices; perform
risk analysis; identify necessary countermeasures; and help the organization as a whole
protect its facility, network, systems, and information. The CISSP certification also
shows potential employers you have achieved a level of proficiency and expertise in
skill sets and knowledge required by the security industry. The increasing importance
placed on security in corporate success will only continue in the future, leading to even
greater demands for highly skilled security professionals. The CISSP certification shows
that a respected third-party organization has recognized an individual’s technical and
theoretical knowledge and expertise, and distinguishes that individual from those who
lack this level of knowledge.
Understanding and implementing security practices is an essential part of being a
good network administrator, programmer, or engineer. Job descriptions that do not
specifically target security professionals still often require that a potential candidate
have a good understanding of security concepts as well as how to implement them. Due
to staff size and budget restraints, many organizations can’t afford separate network
and security staffs. But they still believe security is vital to their organization. Thus, they
often try to combine knowledge of technology and security into a single role. With a
CISSP designation, you can put yourself head and shoulders above other individuals in
this regard.

The CISSP Exam
Because the CISSP exam covers the ten domains making up the CISSP Common Body
of Knowledge (CBK), it is often described as being “an inch deep and a mile wide,” a
reference to the fact that many questions on the exam are not very detailed and do not
require you to be an expert in every subject. However, the questions do require you to
be familiar with many different security subjects.

Chapter 1: Becoming a CISSP

3
The CISSP exam comprises 250 multiple-choice questions, and you have up to six
hours to complete it. The questions are pulled from a much larger question bank to
ensure the exam is as unique as possible for each entrant. In addition, the test bank
constantly changes and evolves to more accurately reflect the real world of security. The
exam questions are continually rotated and replaced in the bank as necessary. Each
question has four answer choices, only one of which is correct. Only 225 questions are
graded, while 25 are used for research purposes. The 25 research questions are integrated into the exam, so you won’t know which go toward your final grade. To pass the
exam, you need a minimum raw score of 700 points out of 1,000. Questions are
weighted based on their difficulty; not all questions are worth the same number of
points. The exam is not product- or vendor-oriented, meaning no questions will be
specific to certain products or vendors (for instance, Windows, Unix, or Cisco). Instead,
you will be tested on the security models and methodologies used by these types of
systems.
(ISC)2, which stands for International Information Systems Security Certification
Consortium, has also added scenario-based questions to the CISSP exam. These questions present a short scenario to the test taker rather than asking the test taker to identify terms and/or concepts. The goal of the scenario-based questions is to ensure that
test takers not only know and understand the concepts within the CBK, but also can
apply this knowledge to real-life situations. This is more practical because in the real
world, you won’t be challenged by having someone asking you “What is the definition
of collusion?” You need to know how to detect and prevent collusion from taking place,
in addition to knowing the definition of the term.
After passing the exam, you will be asked to supply documentation, supported by a
sponsor, proving that you indeed have the type of experience required to obtain this
certification. The sponsor must sign a document vouching for the security experience
you are submitting. So, make sure you have this sponsor lined up prior to registering
for the exam and providing payment. You don’t want to pay for and pass the exam, only
to find you can’t find a sponsor for the final step needed to achieve your certification.
The reason behind the sponsorship requirement is to ensure that those who achieve
the certification have real-world experience to offer organizations. Book knowledge is
extremely important for understanding theory, concepts, standards, and regulations,
but it can never replace hands-on experience. Proving your practical experience supports the relevance of the certification.
A small sample group of individuals selected at random will be audited after passing the exam. The audit consists mainly of individuals from (ISC)2 calling on the candidates’ sponsors and contacts to verify the test taker’s related experience.
What makes this exam challenging is that most candidates, although they work in
the security field, are not necessarily familiar with all ten CBK domains. If a security
professional is considered an expert in vulnerability testing or application security, for
example, she may not be familiar with physical security, cryptography, or forensics.
Thus, studying for this exam will broaden your knowledge of the security field.
The exam questions address the ten CBK security domains, which are described in
Table 1-1.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

4
Domain

Description

Access Control

This domain examines mechanisms and methods used to enable
administrators and managers to control what subjects can access, the
extent of their capabilities after authorization and authentication, and
the auditing and monitoring of these activities. Some of the topics
covered include
• Access control threats
• Identification and authentication technologies and
techniques
• Access control administration
• Single sign-on technologies
• Attack methods

Telecommunications and
Network Security

This domain examines internal, external, public, and private
communication systems; networking structures; devices; protocols;
and remote access and administration. Some of the topics covered
include
• OSI model and layers
• Local area network (LAN), metropolitan area network (MAN), and
wide area network (WAN) technologies
• Internet, intranet, and extranet issues
• Virtual private networks (VPNs), firewalls, routers, switches, and
repeaters
• Network topologies and cabling
• Attack methods

Information Security
Governance and Risk
Management

This domain examines the identification of company assets, the
proper way to determine the necessary level of protection required,
and what type of budget to develop for security implementations,
with the goal of reducing threats and monetary loss. Some of the
topics covered include
• Data classification
• Policies, procedures, standards, and guidelines
• Risk assessment and management
• Personnel security, training, and awareness

Software Development
Security

This domain examines secure software development approaches,
application security, and software flaws. Some of the topics covered
include
• Data warehousing and data mining
• Various development practices and their risks
• Software components and vulnerabilities
• Malicious code

Cryptography

This domain examines cryptography techniques, approaches, and
technologies. Some of the topics covered include
• Symmetric versus asymmetric algorithms and uses
• Public key infrastructure (PKI) and hashing functions
• Encryption protocols and implementation
• Attack methods

Table 1-1 Security Domains That Make Up the CISSP CBK

Chapter 1: Becoming a CISSP

5
Domain

Description

Security Architecture
and Design

This domain examines ways that software should be designed
securely. It also covers international security measurement standards
and their meaning for different types of platforms. Some of the topics
covered include
• Operating states, kernel functions, and memory mapping
• Security models, architectures, and evaluations
• Evaluation criteria: Trusted Computer Security Evaluation Criteria
(TCSEC), Information Technology Security Evaluation Criteria
(ITSEC), and Common Criteria
• Common flaws in applications and systems
• Certification and accreditation

Security Operations

This domain examines controls over personnel, hardware, systems,
and auditing and monitoring techniques. It also covers possible abuse
channels and how to recognize and address them. Some of the topics
covered include
• Administrative responsibilities pertaining to personnel and job
functions
• Maintenance concepts of antivirus, training, auditing, and resource
protection activities
• Preventive, detective, corrective, and recovery controls
• Security and fault-tolerance technologies

Business Continuity
and Disaster Recovery
Planning

This domain examines the preservation of business activities when
faced with disruptions or disasters. It involves the identification
of real risks, proper risk assessment, and countermeasure
implementation. Some of the topics covered include
• Business resource identification and value assignment
• Business impact analysis and prediction of possible losses
• Unit priorities and crisis management
• Plan development, implementation, and maintenance

Legal, Regulations,
Investigations, and
Compliance

This domain examines computer crimes, laws, and regulations. It
includes techniques for investigating a crime, gathering evidence, and
handling procedures. It also covers how to develop and implement an
incident-handling program. Some of the topics covered include
• Types of laws, regulations, and crimes
• Licensing and software piracy
• Export and import laws and issues
• Evidence types and admissibility into court
• Incident handling
• Forensics

Table 1-1 Security Domains That Make Up the CISSP CBK (continued)

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

6
Domain

Description

Physical (Environmental)
Security

This domain examines threats, risks, and countermeasures to protect
facilities, hardware, data, media, and personnel. This involves facility
selection, authorized entry methods, and environmental and safety
procedures. Some of the topics covered include
• Restricted areas, authorization methods, and controls
• Motion detectors, sensors, and alarms
• Intrusion detection
• Fire detection, prevention, and suppression
• Fencing, security guards, and security badge types

Table 1-1 Security Domains That Make Up the CISSP CBK (continued)

(ISC)2 attempts to keep up with changes in technology and methodologies in the
security field by adding numerous new questions to the test question bank each year.
These questions are based on current technologies, practices, approaches, and standards. For example, the CISSP exam given in 1998 did not have questions pertaining to
wireless security, cross-site scripting attacks, or IPv6.
Other examples of material not on past exams include security governance, instant
messaging, phishing, botnets, VoIP, and spam. Though these subjects weren’t issues in
the past, they are now.
The test is based on internationally accepted information security standards and
practices. If you look at the (ISC)2 website for test dates and locations, you may find, for
example, that the same test is offered this Tuesday in California and next Wednesday in
Saudi Arabia.
If you do not pass the exam, you have the option of retaking it as soon as you like.
(ISC)2 used to subject individuals to a waiting period before they could retake the exam,
but this rule has been removed. (ISC)2 keeps track of which exam version you were
given on your first attempt and ensures you receive a different version for any retakes.
(ISC)2 also provides a report to a CISSP candidate who did not pass the exam, detailing
the areas where the candidate was weakest. Though you could retake the exam soon
afterward, it’s wise to devote additional time to these weak areas to improve your score
on the retest.

CISSP: A Brief History
Historically, the field of computer and information security has not been a structured
and disciplined profession; rather, the field has lacked many well-defined professional
objectives and thus has often been misperceived.
In the mid-1980s, members of the computer security profession recognized that
they needed a certification program that would give their profession structure and provide ways for security professionals to demonstrate competence and to present evidence of their qualifications. Establishing such a program would help the credibility of
the security profession as a whole and the individuals who comprise it.
In November 1988, the Special Interest Group for Computer Security (SIG-CS) of
the Data Processing Management Association (DPMA) brought together several organi-

Chapter 1: Becoming a CISSP

7
zations interested in forming a security certification program. They included the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), the Canadian Information Processing
Society (CIPS), the Computer Security Institute (CSI), Idaho State University, and several U.S. and Canadian government agencies. As a voluntary joint effort, these organizations developed the necessary components to offer a full-fledged security certification
for interested professionals. (ISC)2 was formed in mid-1989 as a nonprofit corporation
to develop a security certification program for information systems security practitioners. The certification was designed to measure professional competence and to help
companies in their selection of security professionals and personnel. (ISC)2 was established in North America, but quickly gained international acceptance and now offers
testing capabilities all over the world.
Because security is such a broad and diversified field in the technology and business
world, the original consortium decided on an information systems security CBK composed of ten domains that pertain to every part of computer, network, business, and
information security. In addition, because technology continues to rapidly evolve, staying up-to-date on security trends, technology, and business developments is required to
maintain the CISSP certification. The group also developed a Code of Ethics, test specifications, a draft study guide, and the exam itself.

How Do You Sign Up for the Exam?
To become a CISSP, start at www.isc2.org, where you will find an exam registration
form you must fill out and send to (ISC)2. You will be asked to provide your security
work history, as well as documents for the necessary educational requirements. You
will also be asked to read the (ISC)2 Code of Ethics and to sign a form indicating that
you understand these requirements and promise to abide by them. You then provide
payment along with the completed registration form, where you indicate your preference as to the exam location. The numerous testing sites and dates can be found at
www.isc2.org.

What Does This Book Cover?
This book covers everything you need to know to become an (ISC)2-certified CISSP. It
teaches you the hows and whys behind organization’s development and implementation of policies, procedures, guidelines, and standards. It covers network, application,
and system vulnerabilities; what exploits them; and how to counter these threats. The
book explains physical security, operational security, and why systems implement the
security mechanisms they do. It also reviews the U.S. and international security criteria
and evaluations performed on systems for assurance ratings, what these criteria
mean, and why they are used. This book also explains the legal and liability issues that
surround computer systems and the data they hold, including such subjects as computer crimes, forensics, and what should be done to properly prepare computer evidence associated with these topics for court.
While this book is mainly intended to be used as a study guide for the CISSP exam,
it is also a handy reference guide for use after your certification.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

8

Tips for Taking the CISSP Exam
The exams are monitored by CISSP proctors, if you are taking the Scantron test. They
will require that any food or beverage you bring with you be kept on a back table and
not at your desk. Proctors may inspect the contents of any and all articles entering the
test room. Restroom breaks are usually limited to allowing only one person to leave at
a time, so drinking 15 cups of coffee right before the exam might not be the best idea.
NOTE (ISC)2 still uses the physical Scantron tests that require you to color
in bubbles on a test paper. The organization is moving towards providing the
exam in a digital format through Pearson Vue centers.
You will not be allowed you to keep your smartphones and mobile devices with you
during the testing process. You may have to leave them at the front of the room and
retrieve them when you are finished with the exam. In the past too many people have
used these items to cheat on the exam, so precautions are now in place.
Many people feel as though the exam questions are tricky. Make sure to read the
question and its answers thoroughly instead of reading a few words and immediately
assuming you know what the question is asking. Some of the answer choices may have
only subtle differences, so be patient and devote time to reading through the question
more than once.
As with most tests, it is best to go through the questions and answer those you know
immediately; then go back to the ones causing you difficulty. The CISSP exam is not
computerized (although (ISC)2 is moving to a computerized model), so you will receive a piece of paper with bubbles to fill in and one of several colored exam booklets
containing the questions. If you scribble outside the lines on the answer sheet, the
machine that reads your answers may count a correct answer as wrong. I suggest you go
through each question and mark the right answer in the booklet with the questions.
Repeat this process until you have completed your selections. Then go through the
questions again and fill in the bubbles. This approach leads to less erasing and fewer
potential problems with the scoring machine. You are allowed to write and scribble on
your question exam booklet any way you choose. You will turn it in at the end of your
exam with your answer sheet, but only answers on the answer sheet will be counted, so
make sure you transfer all your answers to the answer sheet.
Other certification exams may be taking place simultaneously in the same room,
such as exams for certification as an SSCP (Systems Security Certified Professional), ISSAP or ISSMP (Architecture and Management concentrations, respectively), or ISSEP
(Engineering concentration), which are some of (ISC)2’s other certification exams.
These other exams vary in length and duration, so don’t feel rushed if you see others
leaving the room early; they may be taking a shorter exam.
When finished, don’t immediately turn in your exam. You have six hours, so don’t
squander it just because you might be tired or anxious. Use the time wisely. Take an
extra couple of minutes to make sure you answered every question, and that you did
not accidentally fill in two bubbles for the same question.

Chapter 1: Becoming a CISSP

9
Unfortunately, exam results take some time to be returned. (ISC)2 states it can take
up to six weeks to get your results to you, but on average it takes around two weeks to
receive your results through e-mail and/or the mail.
If you passed the exam, the results sent to you will not contain your score—you will
only know that you passed. Candidates who do not pass the test are always provided
with a score, however. Thus, they know exactly which areas to focus more attention on
for the next exam. The domains are listed on this notification with a ranking of weakest
to strongest. If you do not pass the exam, remember that many smart and talented security professionals didn’t pass on their first try either, chiefly because the test covers
such a broad range of topics.
One of the most commonly heard complaints is about the exam itself. The questions are not long-winded, like many Microsoft tests, but at times it is difficult to distinguish between two answers that seem to say the same thing. Although (ISC)2 has
been removing the use of negatives, such as “not,” “except for,” and so on, they do still
appear on the exam. The scenario-based questions may expect you to understand concepts in more than one domain to properly answer the question.
Another complaint heard about the test is that some questions seem a bit subjective. For example, whereas it might be easy to answer a technical question that asks for
the exact mechanism used in Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) that protects against man-in-themiddle attacks, it’s not quite as easy to answer a question that asks whether an eightfoot perimeter fence provides low, medium, or high security. Many questions ask the
test taker to choose the “best” approach, which some people find confusing and subjective. These complaints are mentioned here not to criticize (ISC)2 and the test writers,
but to help you better prepare for the test. This book covers all the necessary material
for the test and contains many questions and self-practice tests. Most of the questions
are formatted in such a way as to better prepare you for what you will encounter on the
actual test. So, make sure to read all the material in the book, and pay close attention
to the questions and their formats. Even if you know the subject well, you may still get
some answers wrong—it is just part of learning how to take tests.
Familiarize yourself with industry standards and expand your technical knowledge
and methodologies outside the boundaries of what you use today. I cannot stress enough
that just because you are the top dog in your particular field, it doesn’t mean you are
properly prepared for every domain the exam covers. Take the assessment test in this
chapter to gauge where you stand, and be ready to read a lot of material new to you.

How to Use This Book
Much effort has gone into putting all the necessary information into this book. Now it’s
up to you to study and understand the material and its various concepts. To best benefit from this book, you might want to use the following study method:
1. Study each chapter carefully and make sure you understand each concept
presented. Many concepts must be fully understood, and glossing over a couple
here and there could be detrimental to you. The CISSP CBK contains thousands
of individual topics, so take the time needed to understand them all.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

10
2. Make sure to study and answer all of the questions at the end of the chapter,
as well as those in the digital content included with this book and in Appendix A,
Comprehensive Questions. If any questions confuse you, go back and study
those sections again. Remember, some of the questions on the actual exam are
a bit confusing because they do not seem straightforward. I have attempted to
draft several questions in the same manner to prepare you for the exam. So do
not ignore the confusing questions, thinking they’re not well worded. Instead,
pay even closer attention to them because they are there for a reason.
3. If you are not familiar with specific topics, such as firewalls, laws, physical
security, or protocol functionality, use other sources of information (books,
articles, and so on) to attain a more in-depth understanding of those subjects.
Don’t just rely on what you think you need to know to pass the CISSP exam.
4. After reading this book, study the questions and answers, and take the practice
tests. Then review the (ISC)2 study guide and make sure you are comfortable
with each bullet item presented. If you are not comfortable with some items,
revisit those chapters.
5. If you have taken other certification exams—such as Cisco, Novell, or Microsoft—
you might be used to having to memorize details and configuration parameters.
But remember, the CISSP test is “an inch deep and a mile wide,” so make sure
you understand the concepts of each subject before trying to memorize the small,
specific details.
6. Remember that the exam is looking for the “best” answer. On some questions
test takers do not agree with any or many of the answers. You are being asked
to choose the best answer out of the four being offered to you.

Questions
To get a better feel for your level of expertise and your current level of readiness for the
CISSP exam, run through the following questions:
1. Which of the following provides an incorrect characteristic of a memory leak?
A. Common programming error
B. Common when languages that have no built-in automatic garbage
collection are used
C. Common in applications written in Java
D. Common in applications written in C++
2. Which of the following is the best description pertaining to the “Trusted
Computing Base”?
A. The term originated from the Orange Book and pertains to firmware.
B. The term originated from the Orange Book and addresses the security
mechanisms that are only implemented by the operating system.
C. The term originated from the Orange Book and contains the protection
mechanisms within a system.

Chapter 1: Becoming a CISSP

11
D. The term originated from the Rainbow Series and addressed the level of
significance each mechanism of a system portrays in a secure environment.
3. Which of the following is the best description of the security kernel and the
reference monitor?
A. The reference monitor is a piece of software that runs on top of the security
kernel. The reference monitor is accessed by every security call of the security
kernel. The security kernel is too large to test and verify.
B. The reference monitor concept is a small program that is not related to
the security kernel. It will enforce access rules upon subjects who attempt
to access specific objects. This program is regularly used with modern
operating systems.
C. The reference monitor concept is used strictly for database access control
and is one of the key components in maintaining referential integrity within
the system. It is impossible for the user to circumvent the reference monitor.
D. The reference monitor and security kernel are core components of modern
operating systems. They work together to mediate all access between subjects
and objects. They should not be able to be circumvented and must be called
upon for every access attempt.
4. Which of the following models incorporates the idea of separation of duties and
requires that all modifications to data and objects be done through programs?
A. State machine model
B. Bell-LaPadula model
C. Clark-Wilson model
D. Biba model
5. Which of the following best describes the hierarchical levels of privilege
within the architecture of a computer system?
A. Computer system ring structure
B. Microcode abstraction levels of security
C. Operating system user mode
D. Operating system kernel mode
6. Which of the following is an untrue statement?
i. Virtual machines can be used to provide secure, isolated sandboxes for
running untrusted applications.
ii. Virtual machines can be used to create execution environments with
resource limits and, given the right schedulers, resource guarantees.
iii. Virtualization can be used to simulate networks of independent
computers.
iv. Virtual machines can be used to run multiple operating systems
simultaneously: different versions, or even entirely different systems,
which can be on hot standby.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

12
A. All of them
B. None of them
C. i, ii
D. ii, iii
7. Which of the following is the best means of transferring information
when parties do not have a shared secret and large quantities of sensitive
information must be transmitted?
A. Use of public key encryption to secure a secret key, and message
encryption using the secret key
B. Use of the recipient’s public key for encryption, and decryption based on
the recipient’s private key
C. Use of software encryption assisted by a hardware encryption accelerator
D. Use of elliptic curve encryption
8. Which algorithm did NIST choose to become the Advanced Encryption
Standard (AES) replacing the Data Encryption Standard (DES)?
A. DEA
B. Rijndael
C. Twofish
D. IDEA
Use the following scenario to answer questions 9–11. John is the security administrator for
company X. He has been asked to oversee the installation of a fire suppression sprinkler
system, as recent unusually dry weather has increased the likelihood of fire. Fire could
potentially cause a great amount of damage to the organization’s assets. The sprinkler
system is designed to reduce the impact of fire on the company.
9. In this scenario, fire is considered which of the following?
A. Vulnerability
B. Threat
C. Risk
D. Countermeasure
10. In this scenario, the sprinkler system is considered which of the following?
A. Vulnerability
B. Threat
C. Risk
D. Countermeasure
11. In this scenario, the likelihood and damage potential of a fire is considered
which of the following?
A. Vulnerability
B. Threat

Chapter 1: Becoming a CISSP

13
C. Risk
D. Countermeasure
Use the following scenario to answer questions 12–14. A small remote facility for a company
is valued at $800,000. It is estimated, based on historical data and other predictors, that
a fire is likely to occur once every ten years at a facility in this area. It is estimated that
such a fire would destroy 60 percent of the facility under the current circumstances and
with the current detective and preventative controls in place.
12. What is the single loss expectancy (SLE) for the facility suffering from a fire?
A. $80,000
B. $480,000
C. $320,000
D. 60 percent
13. What is the annualized rate of occurrence (ARO)?
A. 1
B. 10
C. .1
D. .01
14. What is the annualized loss expectancy (ALE)?
A. $480,000
B. $32,000
C. $48,000
D. .6
15. Which of the following is not a characteristic of Protected Extensible
Authentication Protocol?
A. Authentication protocol used in wireless networks and point-to-point
connections
B. Designed to provide improved secure authentication for 802.11 WLANs
C. Designed to support 802.1x port access control and Transport Layer Security
D. Designed to support password-protected connections
16. Which of the following best describes the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol’s
(TKIP) role in the 802.11i standard?
A. It provides 802.1x and EAP to increase the authentication strength.
B. It requires the access point and the wireless device to authenticate to each
other.
C. It sends the SSID and MAC value in ciphertext.
D. It adds more keying material for the RC4 algorithm.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

14
17. Vendors have implemented various solutions to overcome the vulnerabilities
of the wired equivalent protocol (WEP). Which of the following provides an
incorrect mapping between these solutions and their characteristics?
A. LEAP requires a PKI.
B. PEAP only requires the server to authenticate using a digital certificate.
C. EAP-TLS requires both the wireless device and server to authenticate using
digital certificates.
D. PEAP allows the user to provide a password.
18. Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP), which is one protocol within the IPSec
protocol suite, is primarily designed to provide which of the following?
A. Confidentiality
B. Cryptography
C. Digital signatures
D. Access control
19. Which of the following redundant array of independent disks
implementations uses interleave parity?
A. Level 1
B. Level 2
C. Level 4
D. Level 5
20. Which of the following is not one of the stages of the dynamic host
configuration protocol (DHCP) lease process?
i. Discover
ii. Offer
iii. Request
iv. Acknowledgment
A. All of them
B. None of them
C. i
D. ii
21. Which of the following has been deemed by the Internet Architecture Board
as unethical behavior for Internet users?
A. Creating computer viruses
B. Monitoring data traffic
C. Wasting computer resources
D. Concealing unauthorized accesses

Chapter 1: Becoming a CISSP

15
22. Most computer-related documents are categorized as which of the following
types of evidence?
A. Hearsay evidence
B. Direct evidence
C. Corroborative evidence
D. Circumstantial evidence
23. During the examination and analysis process of a forensics investigation, it is
critical that the investigator works from an image that contains all of the data
from the original disk. The image must have all but which of the following
characteristics?
A. Byte-level copy
B. Captured slack spaces
C. Captured deleted files
D. Captured unallocated clusters
24. __________ is a process of interactively producing more detailed versions
of objects by populating variables with different values. It is often used to
prevent inference attacks.
A. Polyinstantiation
B. Polymorphism
C. Polyabsorbtion
D. Polyobject
25. Tim is a software developer for a financial institution. He develops
middleware software code that carries out his company’s business logic
functions. One of the applications he works with is written in the C
programming language and seems to be taking up too much memory as it
runs over a period of time. Which of the following best describes what Tim
needs to look at implementing to rid this software of this type of problem?
A. Bounds checking
B. Garbage collection
C. Parameter checking
D. Compiling
26. __________ is a software testing technique that provides invalid, unexpected,
or random data to the inputs of a program.
A. Agile testing
B. Structured testing
C. Fuzzing
D. EICAR

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

16
27. Which type of malware can change its own code, making it harder to detect
with antivirus software?
A. Stealth virus
B. Polymorphic virus
C. Trojan horse
D. Logic bomb
28. What is derived from a passphrase?
A. A personal password
B. A virtual password
C. A user ID
D. A valid password
29. Which access control model is user-directed?
A. Nondiscretionary
B. Mandatory
C. Identity-based
D. Discretionary
30. Which item is not part of a Kerberos authentication implementation?
A. A message authentication code
B. A ticket-granting ticket
C. Authentication service
D. Users, programs, and services
31. If a company has a high turnover rate, which access control structure is best?
A. Role-based
B. Decentralized
C. Rule-based
D. Discretionary
32. In discretionary access control, who/what has delegation authority to grant
access to data?
A. A user
B. A security officer
C. A security policy
D. An owner
33. Remote access security using a token one-time password generation is an
example of which of the following?
A. Something you have
B. Something you know

Chapter 1: Becoming a CISSP

17
C. Something you are
D. Two-factor authentication
34. What is a crossover error rate (CER)?
A. A rating used as a performance metric for a biometric system
B. The number of Type I errors
C. The number of Type II errors
D. The number reached when Type I errors exceed the number of Type II errors
35. What does a retina scan biometric system do?
A. Examines the pattern, color, and shading of the area around the cornea
B. Examines the patterns and records the similarities between an
individual’s eyes
C. Examines the pattern of blood vessels at the back of the eye
D. Examines the geometry of the eyeball
36. If you are using a synchronous token device, what does this mean?
A. The device synchronizes with the authentication service by using internal
time or events.
B. The device synchronizes with the user’s workstation to ensure the
credentials it sends to the authentication service are correct.
C. The device synchronizes with the token to ensure the timestamp is valid
and correct.
D. The device synchronizes by using a challenge-response method with the
authentication service.
37. What is a clipping level?
A. The threshold for an activity
B. The size of a control zone
C. Explicit rules of authorization
D. A physical security mechanism
38. Which intrusion detection system would monitor user and network behavior?
A. Statistical/anomaly-based
B. Signature-based
C. Static
D. Host-based
39. When should a Class C fire extinguisher be used instead of a Class A?
A. When electrical equipment is on fire
B. When wood and paper are on fire
C. When a combustible liquid is on fire
D. When the fire is in an open area

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

18
40. How does halon suppress fires?
A. It reduces the fire’s fuel intake.
B. It reduces the temperature of the area.
C. It disrupts the chemical reactions of a fire.
D. It reduces the oxygen in the area.
41. What is the problem with high humidity in a data processing environment?
A. Corrosion
B. Fault tolerance
C. Static electricity
D. Contaminants
42. What is the definition of a power fault?
A. Prolonged loss of power
B. Momentary low voltage
C. Prolonged high voltage
D. Momentary power outage
43. Who has the primary responsibility of determining the classification level for
information?
A. The functional manager
B. Middle management
C. The owner
D. The user
44. Which best describes the purpose of the ALE calculation?
A. It quantifies the security level of the environment.
B. It estimates the loss potential from a threat.
C. It quantifies the cost/benefit result.
D. It estimates the loss potential from a threat in a one-year time span.
45. How do you calculate residual risk?
A. Threats × risks × asset value
B. (Threats × asset value × vulnerability) × risks
C. SLE × frequency
D. (Threats × vulnerability × asset value) × control gap
46. What is the Delphi method?
A. A way of calculating the cost/benefit ratio for safeguards
B. A way of allowing individuals to express their opinions anonymously

Chapter 1: Becoming a CISSP

19
C. A way of allowing groups to discuss and collaborate on the best security
approaches
D. A way of performing a quantitative risk analysis
47. What are the necessary components of a smurf attack?
A. Web server, attacker, and fragment offset
B. Fragment offset, amplifying network, and victim
C. Victim, amplifying network, and attacker
D. DNS server, attacker, and web server
48. What do the reference monitor and security kernel do in an operating system?
A. Intercept and mediate a subject attempting to access objects
B. Point virtual memory addresses to real memory addresses
C. House and protect the security kernel
D. Monitor privileged memory usage by applications

Answers
1. C
2. C
3. D
4. C
5. A
6. B
7. A
8. B
9. B
10. D
11. C
12. B
13. C
14. C
15. D
16. D
17. A
18. A

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

20
19. D
20. B
21. C
22. A
23. A
24. A
25. B
26. C
27. B
28. B
29. D
30. A
31. A
32. D
33. A
34. A
35. C
36. A
37. A
38. A
39. A
40. C
41. A
42. D
43. C
44. D
45. D
46. B
47. C
48. A

CHAPTER

Information Security
Governance and Risk
Management
This chapter presents the following:
• Security terminology and principles
• Protection control types
• Security frameworks, models, standards, and best practices
• Security enterprise architecture
• Risk management
• Security documentation
• Information classification and protection
• Security awareness training
• Security governance

In reality, organizations have many other things to do than practice security. Businesses
exist to make money. Most nonprofit organizations exist to offer some type of service, as
in charities, educational centers, and religious entities. None of them exist specifically to
deploy and maintain firewalls, intrusion detection systems, identity management technologies, and encryption devices. No business really wants to develop hundreds of security policies, deploy antimalware products, maintain vulnerability management systems,
constantly update their incident response capabilities, and have to comply with the alphabet soup of security regulations (SOX, GLBA, PCI-DSS, HIPAA) and federal and state
laws. Business owners would like to be able to make their widgets, sell their widgets, and
go home. But these simpler days are long gone. Now organizations are faced with attackers who want to steal businesses’ customer data to carry out identity theft and banking
fraud. Company secrets are commonly being stolen by internal and external entities for
economic espionage purposes. Systems are being hijacked and being used within botnets to attack other organizations or to spread spam. Company funds are being secretly
siphoned off through complex and hard-to-identify digital methods, commonly by organized criminal rings in different countries. And organizations that find themselves in
the crosshairs of attackers may come under constant attack that brings their systems and
websites offline for hours or days. Companies are required to practice a wide range of
security disciplines today to keep their market share, protect their customers and bottom
line, stay out of jail, and still sell their widgets.

21

2

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

22
In this chapter we will cover many of the disciplines that are necessary for organizations to practice security in a holistic manner. Each organization must develop an enterprise-wide security program that consists of technologies, procedures, and processes
covered throughout this book. As you go along in your security career, you will find that
most organizations have some pieces to the puzzle of an “enterprise-wide security program” in place, but not all of them. And almost every organization struggles with the
way to assess the risks their company faces and how to allocate funds and resources
properly to mitigate those risks. Many of the security programs in place today can be
thought of as lopsided or lumpy. The security programs excel within the disciplines that
the team is most familiar with, and the other disciplines are found lacking. It is your
responsibility to become as well-rounded in security as possible, so that you can identify these deficiencies in security programs and help improve upon them. This is why
the CISSP exam covers a wide variety of technologies, methodologies, and processes—
you must know and understand them holistically if you are going to help an organization carry out security holistically.
We will begin with the foundational pieces of security and build upon them through
the chapter and then throughout the book. Building your knowledge base is similar to
building a house: without a solid foundation, it will be weak, unpredictable, and fail in
the most critical of moments. Our goal is to make sure you have solid and deep roots
of understanding so that you can not only protect yourself against many of the threats
we face today, but also protect the commercial and government organizations who
depend upon you and your skill set.

Fundamental Principles of Security
We need to understand the core goals
of security, which are to provide availability, integrity, and confidentiality
(AIC triad) protection for critical assets.
Each asset will require different levels
of these types of protection, as we will
see in the following sections. All security controls, mechanisms, and safeguards are implemented to provide one
or more of these protection types, and
all risks, threats, and vulnerabilities are
measured for their potential capability
to compromise one or all of the AIC
principles.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

23
NOTE In some documentation, the “triad” is presented as CIA:
confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Availability
Emergency! I can’t get to my data!
Response: Turn the computer on!
Availability protection ensures reliability and timely access to data and resources to
authorized individuals. Network devices, computers, and applications should provide
adequate functionality to perform in a predictable manner with an acceptable level of
performance. They should be able to recover from disruptions in a secure and quick
fashion so productivity is not negatively affected. Necessary protection mechanisms
must be in place to protect against inside and outside threats that could affect the availability and productivity of all business-processing components.
Like many things in life, ensuring the availability of the necessary resources within
an organization sounds easier to accomplish than it really is. Networks have so many
pieces that must stay up and running (routers, switches, DNS servers, DHCP servers,
proxies, firewalls). Software has many components that must be executing in a healthy
manner (operating system, applications, antimalware software). There are environmental aspects that can negatively affect an organization’s operations (fire, flood, HVAC
issues, electrical problems), potential natural disasters, and physical theft or attacks. An
organization must fully understand its operational environment and its availability
weaknesses so that the proper countermeasures can be put into place.

Integrity
Integrity is upheld when the assurance of the accuracy and reliability of information
and systems is provided and any unauthorized modification is prevented. Hardware,
software, and communication mechanisms must work in concert to maintain and process data correctly and to move data to intended destinations without unexpected alteration. The systems and network should be protected from outside interference and
contamination.
Environments that enforce and provide this attribute of security ensure that attackers, or mistakes by users, do not compromise the integrity of systems or data. When an
attacker inserts a virus, logic bomb, or back door into a system, the system’s integrity is
compromised. This can, in turn, harm the integrity of information held on the system
by way of corruption, malicious modification, or the replacement of data with incorrect
data. Strict access controls, intrusion detection, and hashing can combat these threats.
Users usually affect a system or its data’s integrity by mistake (although internal users
may also commit malicious deeds). For example, users with a full hard drive may unwittingly delete configuration files under the mistaken assumption that deleting a boot.ini
file must be okay because they don’t remember ever using it. Or, for example, a user may
insert incorrect values into a data processing application that ends up charging a customer $3,000 instead of $300. Incorrectly modifying data kept in databases is another
common way users may accidentally corrupt data—a mistake that can have lasting effects.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

24
Security should streamline users’ capabilities and give them only certain choices
and functionality, so errors become less common and less devastating. System-critical
files should be restricted from viewing and access by users. Applications should provide
mechanisms that check for valid and reasonable input values. Databases should let
only authorized individuals modify data, and data in transit should be protected by
encryption or other mechanisms.

Confidentiality
I protect my most secret secrets.
Response: No one cares.
Confidentiality ensures that the necessary level of secrecy is enforced at each junction of data processing and prevents unauthorized disclosure. This level of confidentiality should prevail while data resides on systems and devices within the network, as it
is transmitted, and once it reaches its destination.
Attackers can thwart confidentiality mechanisms by network monitoring, shoulder
surfing, stealing password files, breaking encryption schemes, and social engineering.
These topics will be addressed in more depth in later chapters, but briefly, shoulder surfing is when a person looks over another person’s shoulder and watches their keystrokes
or views data as it appears on a computer screen. Social engineering is when one person
tricks another person into sharing confidential information, for example, by posing as
someone authorized to have access to that information. Social engineering can take
many forms. Any one-to-one communication medium can be used to perform social
engineering attacks.
Users can intentionally or accidentally disclose sensitive information by not encrypting it before sending it to another person, by falling prey to a social engineering
attack, by sharing a company’s trade secrets, or by not using extra care to protect confidential information when processing it.
Confidentiality can be provided by encrypting data as it is stored and transmitted,
enforcing strict access control and data classification, and by training personnel on the
proper data protection procedures.
Availability, integrity, and confidentiality are critical principles of security. You
should understand their meaning, how they are provided by different mechanisms, and
how their absence can negatively affect an organization.

Balanced Security
In reality, when information security is dealt with, it is commonly only through the lens
of keeping secrets secret (confidentiality). The integrity and availability threats can be
overlooked and only dealt with after they are properly compromised. Some assets have
a critical confidentiality requirement (company trade secrets), some have critical integrity requirements (financial transaction values), and some have critical availability requirements (e-commerce web servers). Many people understand the concepts of the AIC
triad, but may not fully appreciate the complexity of implementing the necessary controls to provide all the protection these concepts cover. The following provides a short list
of some of these controls and how they map to the components of the AIC triad:

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

25
• Availability
• Redundant array of inexpensive disks (RAID)
• Clustering
• Load balancing
• Redundant data and power lines
• Software and data backups
• Disk shadowing
• Co-location and off-site facilities
• Roll-back functions
• Fail-over configurations
• Integrity
• Hashing (data integrity)
• Configuration management (system integrity)
• Change control (process integrity)
• Access control (physical and technical)
• Software digital signing
• Transmission CRC functions
• Confidentiality
• Encryption for data at rest (whole disk, database encryption)
• Encryption for data in transit (IPSec, SSL, PPTP, SSH)
• Access control (physical and technical)
All of these control types will be covered in this book. What is important to realize
at this point is that while the concept of the AIC triad may seem simplistic, meeting its
requirements is commonly more challenging.

Key Terms
• Availability Reliable and timely access to data and resources is
provided to authorized individuals.
• Integrity Accuracy and reliability of the information and systems are
provided and any unauthorized modification is prevented.
• Confidentiality Necessary level of secrecy is enforced and
unauthorized disclosure is prevented.
• Shoulder surfing Viewing information in an unauthorized manner
by looking over the shoulder of someone else.
• Social engineering Gaining unauthorized access by tricking someone
into divulging sensitive information.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

26

Security Definitions
I am vulnerable and see you as a threat.
Response: Good.
The words “vulnerability,” “threat,” “risk,” and “exposure” are often interchanged,
even though they have different meanings. It is important to understand each word’s
definition and the relationships between the concepts they represent.
A vulnerability is a lack of a countermeasure or a weakness in a countermeasure that
is in place. It can be a software, hardware, procedural, or human weakness that can be
exploited. A vulnerability may be a service running on a server, unpatched applications
or operating systems, an unrestricted wireless access point, an open port on a firewall,
lax physical security that allows anyone to enter a server room, or unenforced password
management on servers and workstations.
A threat is any potential danger that is associated with the exploitation of a vulnerability. The threat is that someone, or something, will identify a specific vulnerability
and use it against the company or individual. The entity that takes advantage of a vulnerability is referred to as a threat agent. A threat agent could be an intruder accessing
the network through a port on the firewall, a process accessing data in a way that violates the security policy, a tornado wiping out a facility, or an employee making an
unintentional mistake that could expose confidential information.
A risk is the likelihood of a threat agent exploiting a vulnerability and the corresponding business impact. If a firewall has several ports open, there is a higher likelihood that an intruder will use one to access the network in an unauthorized method.
If users are not educated on processes and procedures, there is a higher likelihood that
an employee will make an unintentional mistake that may destroy data. If an intrusion
detection system (IDS) is not implemented on a network, there is a higher likelihood
an attack will go unnoticed until it is too late. Risk ties the vulnerability, threat, and
likelihood of exploitation to the resulting business impact.
An exposure is an instance of being exposed to losses. A vulnerability exposes an
organization to possible damages. If password management is lax and password rules
are not enforced, the company is exposed to the possibility of having users’ passwords
captured and used in an unauthorized manner. If a company does not have its wiring
inspected and does not put proactive fire prevention steps into place, it exposes itself to
potentially devastating fires.
A control, or countermeasure, is put into place to mitigate (reduce) the potential
risk. A countermeasure may be a software configuration, a hardware device, or a procedure that eliminates a vulnerability or that reduces the likelihood a threat agent will be
able to exploit a vulnerability. Examples of countermeasures include strong password
management, firewalls, a security guard, access control mechanisms, encryption, and
security-awareness training.
NOTE The terms “control,” “countermeasure,” and “safeguard” are
interchangeable terms. They are mechanisms put into place to reduce risk.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

27
If a company has antimalware software but does not keep the signatures up-to-date,
this is a vulnerability. The company is vulnerable to malware attacks. The threat is that
a virus will show up in the environment and disrupt productivity. The likelihood of a
virus showing up in the environment and causing damage and the resulting potential
damage is the risk. If a virus infiltrates the company’s environment, then a vulnerability has been exploited and the company is exposed to loss. The countermeasures in this
situation are to update the signatures and install the antimalware software on all computers. The relationships among risks, vulnerabilities, threats, and countermeasures are
shown in Figure 2-1.
Applying the right countermeasure can eliminate the vulnerability and exposure,
and thus reduce the risk. The company cannot eliminate the threat agent, but it can
protect itself and prevent this threat agent from exploiting vulnerabilities within the
environment.
Many people gloss over these basic terms with the idea that they are not as important as the sexier things in information security. But you will find that unless a security
team has an agreed-upon language in place, confusion will quickly take over. These
terms embrace the core concepts of security and if they are confused in any manner,
then the activities that are rolled out to enforce security are commonly confused.

Figure 2-1 The relationships among the different security concepts

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

28
Key Terms
• Vulnerability Weakness or a lack of a countermeasure.
• Threat agent Entity that can exploit a vulnerability.
• Threat The danger of a threat agent exploiting a vulnerability.
• Risk The probability of a threat agent exploiting a vulnerability and
the associated impact.
• Control Safeguard that is put in place to reduce a risk, also called a
countermeasure.
• Exposure Presence of a vulnerability, which exposes the organization
to a threat.

Control Types
We have this ladder, some rubber bands, and this Band-Aid.
Response: Okay, we are covered.
Up to this point we have covered the goals of security (availability, integrity, confidentiality) and the terminology used in the security industry (vulnerability, threat, risk,
control). These are foundational components that must be understood if security is
going to take place in an organized manner. The next foundational issue we are going
to tackle is control types that can be implemented and their associated functionality.
Controls are put into place to reduce the risk an organization faces, and they come
in three main flavors: administrative, technical, and physical. Administrative controls
are commonly referred to as “soft controls” because they are more management-oriented. Examples of administrative controls are security documentation, risk management,
personnel security, and training. Technical controls (also called logical controls) are
software or hardware components, as in firewalls, IDS, encryption, identification and
authentication mechanisms. And physical controls are items put into place to protect
facility, personnel, and resources. Examples of physical controls are security guards,
locks, fencing, and lighting.
These control types need to be put into place to provide defense-in-depth, which is
the coordinated use of multiple security controls in a layered approach, as shown in
Figure 2-2. A multilayered defense system minimizes the probability of successful penetration and compromise because an attacker would have to get through several different types of protection mechanisms before she gained access to the critical assets. For
example, Company A can have the following physical controls in place that work in a
layered model:
• Fence
• Locked external doors
• Closed-circuit TV

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

29
• Security guard
• Locked internal doors
• Locked server room
• Physically secured computers (cable locks)
Technical controls that are commonly put into place to provide this type of layered
approach are
• Firewalls
• Intrusion detection system
• Intrusion prevention systems
• Antimalware
• Access control
• Encryption
The types of controls that are actually implemented must map to the threats the
company faces, and the numbers of layers that are put into place map to the sensitivity
of the asset. The rule of thumb is the more sensitive the asset, the more layers of protection that must be put into place.

Potential threat

Virus scanners
Patch management
Rule-based access control
Account management
Secure architecture

Asset
Demilitarized zones (DMZ)
Firewalls
Virtual private networks (VPN)
Policies and procedures
Physical security

Figure 2-2 Defense-in-depth

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

30
So the different categories of controls that can be used are administrative, technical,
and physical. But what do these controls actually do for us? We need to understand the
different functionality that each control type can provide us in our quest to secure our
environments.
The different functionalities of security controls are preventive, detective, corrective,
deterrent, recovery, and compensating. By having a better understanding of the different
control functionalities, you will be able to make more informed decisions about what
controls will be best used in specific situations. The six different control functionalities
are as follows:
• Deterrent Intended to discourage a potential attacker
• Preventive Intended to avoid an incident from occurring
• Corrective Fixes components or systems after an incident has occurred
• Recovery Intended to bring the environment back to regular operations
• Detective Helps identify an incident’s activities and potentially an intruder
• Compensating Controls that provide an alternative measure of control
Once you understand fully what the different controls do, you can use them in
the right locations for specific risks—or you can just put them where they would look the
prettiest.
When looking at a security structure of an environment, it is most productive to use
a preventive model and then use detective, recovery, and corrective mechanisms to help
support this model. Basically, you want to stop any trouble before it starts, but you
must be able to quickly react and combat trouble if it does find you. It is not feasible to
prevent everything; therefore, what you cannot prevent, you should be able to quickly
detect. That’s why preventive and detective controls should always be implemented
together and should complement each other. To take this concept further: what you
can’t prevent, you should be able to detect, and if you detect something, it means you
weren’t able to prevent it, and therefore you should take corrective action to make sure
it is indeed prevented the next time around. Therefore, all three types work together:
preventive, detective, and corrective.
The control types described next (administrative, physical, and technical) are preventive in nature. These are important to understand when developing an enterprisewide security program.
• Preventive: Administrative
• Policies and procedures
• Effective hiring practices
• Pre-employment background checks
• Controlled termination processes
• Data classification and labeling
• Security awareness
• Preventive: Physical

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

31
• Badges, swipe cards
• Guards, dogs
• Fences, locks, mantraps
• Preventive: Technical
• Passwords, biometrics, smart cards
• Encryption, secure protocols, call-back systems, database views, constrained
user interfaces
• Antimalware software, access control lists, firewalls, intrusion prevention
system
Table 2-1 shows how these categories of control mechanisms perform different security functions. Many students get themselves wrapped around the axle when trying to
get their mind around which control provides which functionality. This is how this
train of thought usually takes place: “A firewall is a preventive control, but if an attacker knew that it was in place it could be a deterrent.” Let’s stop right here. Do not
make this any harder than it has to be. When trying to map the functionality requirement to a control, think of the main reason that control would be put into place. A
firewall tries to prevent something bad from taking place, so it is a preventative control.
Auditing logs is done after an event took place, so it is detective. A data backup system
is developed so that data can be recovered; thus, this is a recovery control. Computer
images are created so that if software gets corrupted, they can be loaded; thus, this is a
corrective control.
One control type that some people struggle with is a compensating control. Let’s
look at some examples of compensating controls to best explain their function. If your
company needed to implement strong physical security, you might suggest to management that security guards are employed. But after calculating all the costs of security
guards, your company might decide to use a compensating (alternate) control that
provides similar protection but is more affordable—as in a fence. In another example,
let’s say you are a security administrator and you are in charge of maintaining the company’s firewalls. Management tells you that a certain protocol that you know is vulnerable to exploitation has to be allowed through the firewall for business reasons. The
network needs to be protected by a compensating (alternate) control pertaining to this
protocol, which may be setting up a proxy server for that specific traffic type to ensure
that it is properly inspected and controlled. So a compensating control is just an alternate control that provides similar protection as the original control, but has to be used
because it is more affordable or allows specifically required business functionality.
Several types of security controls exist, and they all need to work together. The complexity of the controls and of the environment they are in can cause the controls to contradict each other or leave gaps in security. This can introduce unforeseen holes in the
company’s protection not fully understood by the implementers. A company may have
very strict technical access controls in place and all the necessary administrative controls
up to snuff, but if any person is allowed to physically access any system in the facility, then
clear security dangers are present within the environment. Together, these controls should
work in harmony to provide a healthy, safe, and productive environment.

Detective
Identify undesirable
events that have
occurred

Corrective
Correct
undesirable events
that have occurred

Deterrent
Discourage security
violations

Recovery
Restore resources
and capabilities

Category of Control:
Physical
Fences

X

Locks

X

Badge system

X

Security guard

X

Biometric system

X

Mantrap doors

X

Lighting

X

Motion detectors

X

Closed-circuit TVs

X

Offsite facility

X

Administrative
Security policy

X

Monitoring and
supervising
Separation of duties

X
X

Table 2-1 Service That Security Controls Provide

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

32

Type of Control:
Preventive
Avoid
undesirable
events from
occurring

Type of Control:
Preventive
Avoid
undesirable
events from
occurring

Detective
Identify undesirable
events that have
occurred

Corrective
Correct
undesirable events
that have occurred

Deterrent
Discourage security
violations

Recovery
Restore resources
and capabilities

Category of Control:
Job rotation

X

Information
classification

X

Personnel
procedures

X

Investigations

X
X

Security-awareness
training

X

Technical
ACLs

X

Routers

X

Encryption

X

Audit logs

X

IDS

X

Antivirus software

X

Server images

X

Smart cards

X

Dial-up call-back
systems

X

Data backup

X

Table 2-1 Service That Security Controls Provide (continued)

33

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

Testing

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

34
Control Types and Functionalities
• Control types Administrative, technical, and physical
• Control functionalities
• Deterrent Discourage a potential attacker
• Preventive Stop an incident from occurring
• Corrective Fix items after an incident has occurred
• Recovery Restore necessary components to return to normal
operations
• Detective Identify an incident’s activities after it took place
• Compensating Alternative control that provides similar protection
as the original control
• Defense-in-depth Implementation of multiple controls so that
successful penetration and compromise is more difficult to attain

Security Frameworks
With each section we are getting closer to some of the overarching topics of this chapter.
Up to this point we know what we need to accomplish (availability, integrity, confidentiality) and we know the tools we can use (administrative, technical, physical controls)
and we know how to talk about this issue (vulnerability, threat, risk, control). Before we
move into how to develop an organization-wide security program, let’s first explore
what not to do, which is referred to as security through obscurity. The concept of security through obscurity is assuming that your enemies are not as smart as you are and that
they cannot figure out something that you feel is very tricky. A nontechnical example of
security through obscurity is the old practice of putting a spare key under a doormat in
case you are locked out of the house. You assume that no one knows about the spare
key, and as long as they don’t, it can be considered secure. The vulnerability here is that
anyone could gain easy access to the house if they have access to that hidden spare key,
and the experienced attacker (in this example, a burglar) knows that these kinds of
vulnerabilities exist and takes the appropriate steps to seek them out.
In the technical realm, some vendors work on the premise that since their product’s
code is compiled this provides more protection than products based upon open-source
code because no one can view their original programming instructions. But attackers
have a wide range of reverse-engineering tools available to them to reconstruct the
product’s original code, and there are other ways to figure out how to exploit software
without reverse-engineering it, as in fuzzing, data validation inputs, etc. (These software security topics will be covered in depth in Chapter 10.) The proper approach to
security is to ensure the original software does not contain flaws—not to assume that
putting the code into a compiled format provides the necessary level of protection.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

35
Another common example of practicing security through obscurity is to develop
cryptographic algorithms in-house instead of using algorithms that are commonly used
within the industry. Some organizations assume that if attackers are not familiar with
the logic functions and mathematics of their homegrown algorithms, this lack of understanding by the attacker will serve as a necessary level of security. But attackers are
smart, clever, and motivated. If there are flaws within these algorithms, they will most
likely be identified and exploited. The better approach is to use industry-recognized
algorithms that have proven themselves to be strong and not depend upon the fact that
an algorithm is proprietary, thus assuming that it is secure.
Some network administrators will remap protocols on their firewalls so that HTTP
is not coming into the environment over the well-known port 80, but instead 8080.
The administrator assumes that an attacker will not figure out this remapping, but in
reality a basic port scanner and protocol analyzer will easily detect this port remapping.
So don’t try to outsmart the bad guy with trickery; instead, practice security in a mature,
solid approach. Don’t try to hide the flaws that can be exploited; get rid of those flaws
altogether by following proven security practices.
Reliance on confusion to provide security is obviously dangerous. Though everyone
wants to believe in the innate goodness of their fellow man, no security professional
would have a job if this were actually true. In security, a good practice is illustrated by
the old saying, “There are only two people in the world I trust: you and me—and I’m
not so sure about you.” This is a better attitude to take, because security really can be
compromised by anyone, at any time.
So we do not want our organization’s security program to be built upon smoke and
mirrors, and we understand that we most likely cannot out-trick our enemies—what do
we do? Build a fortress, aka security program. Hundreds of years ago your enemies
would not be attacking you with packets through a network; they would be attacking
you with big sticks while they rode horses. When one faction of people needed to protect themselves from another, they did not just stack some rocks on top of each other
in a haphazard manner and call that protection. (Well, maybe some groups did, but
they died right away and do not really count.) Groups of people built castles based
upon architectures that could withstand attacks. The walls and ceilings were made of
solid material that was hard to penetrate. The structure of the buildings provided layers
of protection. The buildings were outfitted with both defensive and offensive tools, and
some were surround by moats. That is our goal, minus the moat.
A security program is a framework made up of many entities: logical, administrative, and physical protection mechanisms, procedures, business processes, and people
that all work together to provide a protection level for an environment. Each has an
important place in the framework, and if one is missing or incomplete, the whole
framework may be affected. The program should work in layers: one layer provides support for the layer above it and protection for the layer below it. Because a security program is a framework, organizations are free to plug in different types of technologies,
methods, and procedures to accomplish the necessary protection level for their environment.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

36
A security program based upon a flexible framework sounds great, but how do we
build one? Before a fortress was built, the structure was laid out in blueprints by an architect. We need a detailed plan to follow to properly build our security program.
Thank goodness industry standards were developed just for this purpose.

ISO/IEC 27000 Series
The British seem to know what they are doing. Let’s follow them.
British Standard 7799 (BS7799) was developed in 1995 by the United Kingdom
government’s Department of Trade and Industry and published by the British Standards Institution. The standard outlines how an information security management system (ISMS) (aka security program) should be built and maintained. The goal was to
provide guidance to organizations on how to design, implement, and maintain policies, processes, and technologies to manage risks to its sensitive information assets.
The reason that this type of standard was even needed was to try and centrally manage the various security controls deployed throughout an organization. Without a security management system, the controls are implemented and managed in an ad hoc
manner. The IT department would take care of technology security solutions, personnel
security would be within the human relations department, physical security in the facilities department, and business continuity in the operations department. We needed
a way to oversee all of these items and knit them together in a holistic manner. This
British standard met this need.
The British Standard actually had two parts: BS7799 Part 1, which outlined control
objectives and a range of controls that can be used to meet those objectives, and BS7799
Part 2, which outlined how a security program (ISMS) can be set up and maintained.
BS7799 Part 2 also served as a baseline that organizations could be certified against.
BS7799 was considered to be a de facto standard, which means that no specific
standards body was demanding that everyone follow the standard—but the standard
seemed to be a really good idea and fit an industry need, so everyone decided to follow
it. When organizations around the world needed to develop an internal security program, there were no guidelines or direction to follow except BS7799. This standard laid
out how security should cover a wide range of topics, some of which are listed here:
• Information security policy for the organization Map of business
objectives to security, management’s support, security goals, and
responsibilities.
• Creation of information security infrastructure Create and maintain an
organizational security structure through the use of a security forum, a security
officer, defining security responsibilities, authorization processes, outsourcing,
and independent reviews.
• Asset classification and control Develop a security infrastructure to protect
organizational assets through accountability and inventory, classification, and
handling procedures.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

37
• Personnel security Reduce risks that are inherent in human interaction by
screening employees, defining roles and responsibilities, training employees
properly, and documenting the ramifications of not meeting expectations.
• Physical and environmental security Protect the organization’s assets by
properly choosing a facility location, erecting and maintaining a security
perimeter, implementing access control, and protecting equipment.
• Communications and operations management Carry out operations
security through operational procedures, proper change control, incident
handling, separation of duties, capacity planning, network management, and
media handling.
• Access control Control access to assets based on business requirements, user
management, authentication methods, and monitoring.
• System development and maintenance Implement security in all phases
of a system’s lifetime through development of security requirements,
cryptography, integrity protection, and software development procedures.
• Business continuity management Counter disruptions of normal
operations by using continuity planning and testing.
• Compliance Comply with regulatory, contractual, and statutory
requirements by using technical controls, system audits, and legal awareness.
The need to expand and globally standardize BS7799 was identified, and this task
was taken on by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). ISO is the world’s largest developer
and publisher of international standards. The standards this group works on range
from meteorology, food technology, and agriculture to space vehicle engineering, mining, and information technology. ISO is a network of the national standards institutes
of 159 countries. So these are the really smart people who come up with really good
ways of doing stuff, one being how to set up information security programs within organizations. The IEC develops and publishes international standards for all electrical,
electronic, and related technologies. These two organizations worked together to build
on top of what was provided by BS7799 and launch the new version as a global standard, known as the ISO/IEC 27000 series.
As BS7799 was being updated it went through a long range of confusing titles, including different version numbers. So you could see this referenced as BS7799,
BS7799v1, BS7799 v2, ISO 17799, BS7799-3:2005, etc. The industry has moved from
the more ambiguous BS7799 standard to a whole list of ISO/IEC standards that attempt to compartmentalize and modularize the necessary components of an ISMS, as
shown here:
• ISO/IEC 27000 Overview and vocabulary
• ISO/IEC 27001 ISMS requirements
• ISO/IEC 27002

Code of practice for information security management

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

38
• ISO/IEC 27003 Guideline for ISMS implementation
• ISO/IEC 27004 Guideline for information security management
measurement and metrics framework
• ISO/IEC 27005 Guideline for information security risk management
• ISO/IEC 27006 Guidelines for bodies providing audit and certification of
information security management systems
• ISO/IEC 27011 Information security management guidelines for
telecommunications organizations
• ISO/IEC 27031 Guideline for information and communications technology
readiness for business continuity
• ISO/IEC 27033-1 Guideline for network security
• ISO 27799 Guideline for information security management in health
organizations
The following ISO/IEC standards are in development as of this writing:
• ISO/IEC 27007 Guideline for information security management systems
auditing
• ISO/IEC 27013 Guideline on the integrated implementation of ISO/IEC
20000-1 and ISO/IEC 27001
• ISO/IEC 27014 Guideline for information security governance
• ISO/IEC 27015 Information security management guidelines for the finance
and insurance sectors
• ISO/IEC 27032 Guideline for cybersecurity
• ISO/IEC 27033 Guideline for IT network security, a multipart standard
based on ISO/IEC 18028:2006
• ISO/IEC 27034 Guideline for application security
• ISO/IEC 27035 Guideline for security incident management
• ISO/IEC 27036 Guideline for security of outsourcing
• ISO/IEC 27037 Guideline for identification, collection, and/or acquisition
and preservation of digital evidence
This group of standards is known as the ISO/IEC 27000 series and serves as industry
best practices for the management of security controls in a holistic manner within organizations around the world. ISO follows the Plan – Do – Check – Act (PDCA) cycle,
which is an iterative process that is commonly used in business process quality control
programs. The Plan component pertains to establishing objectives and making plans,
the Do component deals with the implementation of the plans, the Check component
pertains to measuring results to understand if objectives are met, and the last piece, Act,
provides direction on how to correct and improve plans to better achieve success. Figure 2-3 depicts this cycle and how it correlates to the development and maintenance of
an ISMS as laid out in the ISO/IEC 27000 series.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

39
Figure 2-3
PDCA cycle used
in the ISO/IEC 27000
series (Used with
permission from
www.gammassl.co.uk)

Define the scope
of the ISMS
Define ISMS policy
Define approach
to risk assessment
Identify the risks

Formulate risk
treatment plan

Analyze and evaluate
the risks

Implement risk
treatment plan

Identify and evaluate
options for the
treatment of risk

Implement controls
Implement training and
awareness programs

Management approves
residual risks

Manage operations

Management
authorizes ISMS
Select control
objectives and controls

Manage resources
Implement procedures to
direct/respond to
security incidents

Prepare a Statement
of Applicability (SOA)
Do

Plan

Check

Act

Execute monitoring
procedures

Implement identified
improvements

Undertake regular
reviews of
ISMS effectiveness

Take corrective/
preventative action

Measure effectiveness
of controls
Review level of residual
and acceptable risk
Conduct internal
ISMS audit

Apply lessons learned
(including other
organizations)
Communicate results
to interested parties
Ensure improvements
to achieve objectives

Regular management
review
Update security plans
Record actions
and events

It is common for organizations to seek an ISO/IEC 27001 certification by an accredited third party. The third party assesses the organization against the ISMS requirements
laid out in ISO/IEC 27001 and attests to the organization’s compliance level. Just as
(ISC)2 attests to a person’s security knowledge once he passes the CISSP exam, the third
party attests to the security practices within the boundaries of the company it evaluates.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

40
Many Standards, Best Practices, and Frameworks
As you will see in the following sections, various profit and nonprofit organizations have developed their own approaches to security management, security
control objectives, process management, and enterprise development. We will
examine their similarities and differences and illustrate where each is used within
the industry.
The following is a basic breakdown:
• Security Program Development
• ISO/IEC 27000 series International standards on how to develop
and maintain an ISMS developed by ISO and IEC
• Enterprise Architecture Development
• Zachman framework Model for the development of enterprise
architectures developed by John Zachman
• TOGAF Model and methodology for the development of enterprise
architectures developed by The Open Group
• DoDAF U.S. Department of Defense architecture framework that
ensures interoperability of systems to meet military mission goals
• MODAF Architecture framework used mainly in military support
missions developed by the British Ministry of Defence
• Security Enterprise Architecture Development
• SABSA model Model and methodology for the development of
information security enterprise architectures
• Security Controls Development
• CobiT Set of control objectives for IT management developed by
Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) and the
IT Governance Institute (ITGI)
• SP 800-53 Set of controls to protect U.S. federal systems developed
by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
• Corporate Governance
• COSO Set of internal corporate controls to help reduce the risk
of financial fraud developed by the Committee of Sponsoring
Organizations (COSO) of the Treadway Commission
• Process Management
• ITIL Processes to allow for IT service management developed by the
United Kingdom’s Office of Government Commerce
• Six Sigma Business management strategy that can be used to carry
out process improvement
• Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Organizational
development for process improvement developed by Carnegie Mellon

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

41
NOTE The CISSP Common Body of Knowledge places all architectures
(enterprise and system) within the domain Security Architecture and Design.
Enterprise architectures are covered in this chapter of this book because they
directly relate to the organizational security program components covered
throughout the chapter. The Security Architecture and Design chapter deals
specifically with system architectures that are used in software engineering
and design.

Enterprise Architecture Development
Should we map and integrate all of our security efforts with our business efforts?
Response: No, we are more comfortable with chaos and wasting money.
Organizations have a choice when attempting to secure their environment as a
whole. They can just toss in products here and there, which are referred to as point solutions or stovepipe solutions, and hope the ad hoc approach magically works in a manner that secures the environment evenly and covers all of the organization’s
vulnerabilities. Or the organization can take the time to understand the environment,
understand the security requirements of the business and environment, and lay out an
overarching framework and strategy that maps the two together. Most organizations
choose option one, which is the “constantly putting out fires” approach. This is a lovely way to keep stress levels elevated and security requirements unmet, and to let confusion and chaos be the norm.
The second approach would be to define an enterprise security architecture, allow
it to be the guide when implementing solutions to ensure business needs are met, provide standard protection across the environment, and reduce the amount of security
surprises the organization will run into. Although implementing an enterprise security
architecture will not necessarily promise pure utopia, it does tame the chaos and gets
the security staff, and organization, into a more proactive and mature mindset when
dealing with security as a whole.
Developing an architecture from scratch is not an easy task. Sure, it is easy to draw a big
box with smaller boxes inside of it, but what do the boxes represent? What are the relationships between the boxes? How does information flow between the boxes? Who needs to
view these boxes and what aspects of the boxes do they need for decision making? An architecture is a conceptual construct. It is a tool to help individuals understand a complex
item (i.e., enterprise) in digestible chunks. If you are familiar with the OSI networking
model, this is an abstract model used to illustrate the architecture of a networking stack. A
networking stack within a computer is very complex because it has so many protocols,
interfaces, services, and hardware specifications. But when we think about it in a modular
framework (seven layers), we can better understand the network stack as a whole and the
relationships between the individual components that make it up.
NOTE

OSI network stack will be covered extensively in Chapter 6.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

42
An enterprise architecture encompasses the essential and unifying components of
an organization. It expresses the enterprise structure (form) and behavior (function). It
embodies the enterprise’s components, their relationships to each other, and to the
environment.
In this section we will be covering several different enterprise architecture frameworks. Each framework has its own specific focus, but they all provide guidance on how
to build individual architectures so that they are useful tools to a diverse set of individuals. Notice the difference between an architecture framework and an actual architecture. You use the framework as a guideline on how to build an architecture that best fits
your company’s needs. Each company’s architecture will be different because they have
different business drivers, security and regulatory requirements, cultures, and organizational structures—but if each starts with the same architectural framework then their
architectures will have similar structures and goals. It is similar to three people starting
with a two-story ranch-style house blueprint. One person chooses to have four bedrooms built because they have three children, one person chooses to have a larger living
room and three bedrooms, and the other person chooses two bedrooms and two living
rooms. Each person started with the same blueprint (framework) and modified it to
meet their needs (architecture).
When developing an architecture, first the stakeholders need to be identified, which
is who will be looking at and using the architecture. Next, the views need to be developed, which is how the information that is most important to the different stakeholders will be illustrated in the most useful manner. For example, as you see in Figure 2-4,
companies have several different viewpoints. Executives need to understand the company from a business point of view, business process developers need to understand
what type of information needs to be collected to support business activities, application developers need to understand system requirements that maintain and process the
information, data modelers need to know how to structure data elements, and the
technology group needs to understand the network components required to support
the layers above it. They are all looking at an architecture of the same company, it is just
being presented in views that they understand and that directly relate to their responsibilities within the organization.
An enterprise architecture allows you to not only understand the company from
several different views, but also understand how a change that takes place at one level
will affect items at other levels. For example, if there is a new business requirement, how
is it going to be supported at each level of the enterprise? What type of new information
must be collected and processed? Do new applications need to be purchased or current
ones modified? Are new data elements required? Will new networking devices be required? An architecture allows you to understand all the things that will need to change
just to support one new business function. The architecture can be used in the opposite
direction also. If a company is looking to do a technology refresh, will the new systems
still support all of the necessary functions in the layers above the technology level? An
architecture allows you to understand an organization as one complete organism and
illustrate how changes to one internal component can directly affect another one.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

43
Figure 2-4
NIST Enterprise
Architecture
Framework

y
nar
tio nary
e
r
io
ts
isc
l d ret en
rna -disc uirem
e
t
Ex non /req
and ndard
sta

Business
architecture
Drives

Information
architecture
Feedback
Prescribes

Enterprise
discretionary and
non-discretionary
standards/
regulations

Information systems
architecture
Identifies

Data architecture
Supported by

Delivery systems architecture
hardware, software, communications

Why Do We Need Enterprise Architecture Frameworks?
As you have probably experienced, business people and technology people sometimes
seem like totally different species. Business people use terms like “net profits,” “risk
universes,” “portfolio strategy,” “hedging,” “commodities,” etc. Technology people use
terms like “deep packet inspection,” “level three devices,” “cross-site scripting,” “load
balancing,” etc. Think about the acronyms techies like us throw around—TCP, APT,
ICMP, RAID, UDP, L2TP, PPTP, IPSec, AES, and DES. We can have complete conversations between ourselves without using any real words. And even though business people and technology people use some of the same words, they have totally different
meanings to the individual groups. To business people, a protocol is a set of approved
processes that must be followed to accomplish a task. To technical people, a protocol is

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

44
a standardized manner of communication between computers or applications. Business and technical people use the term “risk,” but each group is focusing on very different risks a company can face—market share versus security breaches. And even though
each group uses the term “data” the same, business people look at data only from a
functional point of view and security people look at data from a risk point of view.
This divide between business perspectives and technology perspectives can not only
cause confusion and frustration—it commonly costs money. If the business side of the
house wants to offer customers a new service, as in paying bills online, there may have
to be extensive changes to the current network infrastructure, applications, web servers,
software logic, cryptographic functions, authentication methods, database structures,
etc. What seems to be a small change in a business offering can cost a lot of money
when it comes to adding up the new technology that needs to be purchased and implemented, programming that needs to be carried out, re-architecting of networks, etc. It
is common for business people to feel as though the IT department is more of an impediment when it comes to business evolution and growth, and in turn the IT department feels as though the business people are constantly coming up with outlandish
and unrealistic demands with no supporting budgets.
Because of this type of confusion between business and technology people, organizations around the world have implemented incorrect solutions because the business
functionality to technical specifications was not understood. This results in having to
repurchase new solutions, carry out rework, and wasting an amazing amount of time.
Not only does this cost the organization more money than it should have in the first
place, business opportunities may be lost, which can reduce market share. This type of
waste has happened so much that the U.S. Congress passed the Clinger-Cohen Act,
which requires federal agencies to improve their IT expenditures. So we need a tool that
both business people and technology people can use to reduce confusion, optimize
business functionality, and not waste time and money. This is where business enterprise architectures come into play. It allows both groups (business and technology) to
view the same organization in ways that make sense to them.
When you go to the doctor’s office, there is a poster of a skeleton system on one
wall, a poster of a circulatory system on the other wall, and another poster of the organs
that make up a human body. These are all different views of the same thing, the human
body. This is the same functionality that enterprise architecture frameworks provide:
different views of the same thing. In the medical field we have specialists (podiatrists,
brain surgeons, dermatologists, oncologists, ophthalmologists, etc.). Each organization
is also made up of its own specialists (HR, marketing, accounting, IT, R&D, management). But there also has to be an understanding of the entity (whether it is a human
body or company) holistically, which is what an enterprise architecture attempts to
accomplish.

Zachman Architecture Framework
Does anyone really understand how all the components within our company work together?
Response: How long have you worked here?
One of the first enterprise architecture frameworks that was created is the Zachman
framework, created by John Zachman, which is depicted in Table 2-2. (The full framework can be viewed at www.zafa.com.)

Layer

What
(Data)

How
(Function)

Where
(Network)

Who
(People)

When
(Time)

Why
(Motivation)

1

Scope context
boundary

List of things
important to
the business

List of processes
the business
performs

List of locations
in which
the business
operates

List of
organizations
important to
the business

List of
events
significant
to the
business

List of business
goals/strategies

e.g., business
process model

e.g., business
logistics model

e.g.,
workflow
model

e.g., master
schedule

e.g., business plan

• Owner

e.g., semantic
or entityrelationship
model

System model
logic

e.g., logical
data model

e.g., application
architecture

e.g., distributed
system
architecture

e.g., human
interface
architecture

e.g.,
processing
structure

e.g., business rule
model

e.g., physical
data model

e.g., system
design

e.g., technology
architecture

e.g.,
presentation
architecture

e.g., control
structure

e.g., rule design

e.g., data
definition

e.g., program

e.g., network
architecture

e.g., security
architecture

e.g., timing
definition

e.g., rule
specification

e.g., data

e.g., function

e.g., network

e.g.,
organization

e.g.,
schedule

e.g., strategy

• Planner

2

3

Business model
concepts

• Designer
4

Technology
model physics
• Builder

5

Component
configuration
• Implementer

6

Functioning
enterprise
instances
• Worker

Table 2-2 Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture

45

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

Order

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

46
The Zachman framework is a two-dimensional model that uses six basic communication interrogatives (What, How, Where, Who, When, and Why) intersecting with different viewpoints (Planner, Owner, Designer, Builder, Implementer, and Worker) to
give a holistic understanding of the enterprise. This framework was developed in the
1980s and is based on the principles of classical business architecture that contain rules
that govern an ordered set of relationships.
The goal of this model is to be able to look at the same organization from different
views (Planner, Owner, Designer, Builder, etc.). Different groups within a company
need the same information, but presented in ways that directly relate to their responsibilities. A CEO needs financial statements, scorecards, and balance sheets. A network
administrator needs network schematics, a systems engineer needs interface requirements, and the operations department needs configuration requirements. If you have
ever carried out a network-based vulnerability test, you know that you cannot tell the
CEO that some systems are vulnerable to SYN-based attacks, or that the company software allows for client-side browser injections, or that some Windows-based applications are vulnerable to alternate data stream attacks. The CEO needs to know this
information, but in a language he can understand. People at each level of the organization need information in a language and format that is most useful to them.
A business enterprise architecture is used to optimize often fragmented processes
(both manual and automated) into an integrated environment that is responsive to
change and supportive of the business strategy. The Zachman framework has been
around for many years and has been used by many organizations to build or better
define their business environment. This framework is not security-oriented, but it is a
good template to work with because it offers direction on how to understand an actual
enterprise in a modular fashion.

The Open Group Architecture Framework
Our business processes, data flows, software programs, and network devices are strung together
like spaghetti.
Response: Maybe we need to implement some structure here.
Another enterprise architecture framework is The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), which has its origins in the U.S. Department of Defense. It provides an
approach to design, implement, and govern an enterprise information architecture.
TOGAF is a framework that can be used to develop the following architecture types:
• Business Architecture
• Data Architecture
• Applications Architecture
• Technology Architecture

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

47

Business
Processes and
activities use...
Data
That must be collected,
organized, safeguarded, and
distributed using...
Applications
Such as custom or off-the-shelf
software tools that run off...

Technology
Such as computer system and telephone networks.

So this architecture framework can be used to create individual architectures
through the use of its Architecture Development Method (ADM). This method is an iterative and cyclic process that allows requirements to be continuously reviewed and the
individual architectures updated as needed. These different architectures can allow a
technology architect to understand the enterprise from four different views (business,
data, application, and technology) so she can ensure her team develops the necessary
technology to work within the environment and all the components that make up that
environment and meet business requirements. The technology may need to span many
different types of network types, interconnect with various software components, and
work within different business units. As an analogy, when a new city is being constructed, people do not just start building houses here and there. Civil engineers lay out
roads, bridges, waterways, and commercial and housing zoned areas. A large organization that has a distributed and heterogeneous environment that supports many different business functions can be as complex as a city. So before a programmer starts
developing code, the architect of the software needs to be developed in the context of
the organization it will work within.
NOTE Many technical people have a negative visceral reaction to models like
this. They feel it’s too much work, that it’s a lot of fluff, is not directly relevant,
and so on. If you handed the same group of people a network schematic with
firewalls, IDSs, and VPNs, they would say, “Now we’re talking about security!”
Security technology works within the construct of an organization, so the
organization must be understood also.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

48
Military-Oriented Architecture Frameworks
Our reconnaissance mission gathered important intelligence on our enemy, but a software
glitch resulted in us bombing the wrong country.
Response: Let’s blame it on NATO.
It is hard enough to construct enterprise-wide solutions and technologies for one
organization—think about an architecture that has to span many different complex
government agencies to allow for interoperability and proper hierarchical communication channels. This is where the Department of Defense Architecture Framework (DoDAF)
comes into play. When the U.S. DoD purchases technology products and weapon systems, enterprise architecture documents must be created based upon DoDAF standards
to illustrate how they will properly integrate into the current infrastructures. The focus
of the architecture framework is on command, control, communications, computers,
intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems and processes. It is not only important that these different devices communicate using the same protocol types and
interoperable software components, but also that they use the same data elements. If
an image is captured from a spy satellite, downloaded to a centralized data repository,
and then loaded into a piece of software to direct an unmanned drone, the military
personnel cannot have their operations interrupted because one piece of software cannot read another software’s data output. The DoDAF helps ensure that all systems,
processes, and personnel work in a concerted effort to accomplish its missions.
The British Ministry of Defence Architecture Framework (MODAF) is another recognized enterprise architecture framework based upon the DoDAF. The crux of the framework is to be able to get data in the right format to the right people as soon as possible.
Modern warfare is complex, and activities happen fast, which requires personnel and
systems to be more adaptable than ever before. Data needs to be captured and properly
presented so that decision makers understand complex issues quickly, which allows for
fast and hopefully accurate decisions.
NOTE While both DoDAF and MODAF were developed to support mainly
military missions, they have been expanded upon and morphed for use in
business enterprise environments.
When attempting to figure out which architecture framework is best for your organization, you need to find out who the stakeholders are and what information they
need from the architecture. The architecture needs to represent the company in the
most useful manner to the people who need to understand it the best. If your company
has people (stakeholders) who need to understand the company from a business process perspective, your architecture needs to provide that type of view. If there are people
who need to understand the company from an application perspective, your architecture needs a view that illustrates that information. If people need to understand the
enterprise from a security point of view, that needs to be illustrated in a specific view.
So one main difference between the various enterprise architecture frameworks is what
type of information are they providing and how are they providing it.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

49
Enterprise Security Architecture
An enterprise security architecture is a subset of an enterprise architecture and defines
the information security strategy that consists of layers of solutions, processes, and procedures and the way they are linked across an enterprise strategically, tactically, and
operationally. It is a comprehensive and rigorous method for describing the structure
and behavior of all the components that make up a holistic information security management system (ISMS). The main reason to develop an enterprise security architecture
is to ensure that security efforts align with business practices in a standardized and costeffective manner. The architecture works at an abstraction level and provides a frame of
reference. Besides security, this type of architecture allows organizations to better
achieve interoperability, integration, ease-of-use, standardization, and governance.
How do you know if an organization does not have an enterprise security architecture in place? If the answer is “yes” to most of the following questions, this type of architecture is not in place:
• Does security take place in silos throughout the organization?
• Is there a continual disconnect between senior management and the security
staff?
• Are redundant products purchased for different departments for overlapping
security needs?
• Is the security program made up of mainly policies without actual
implementation and enforcement?
• When user access requirements increase because of business needs, does
the network administrator just modify the access controls without the user
manager’s documented approval?
• When a new product is being rolled out, do unexpected interoperability issues
pop up that require more time and money to fix?
• Do many “one-off” efforts take place instead of following standardized
procedures when security issues arise?
• Are the business unit managers unaware of their security responsibilities and
how their responsibilities map to legal and regulatory requirements?
• Is “sensitive data” defined in a policy, but the necessary controls are not fully
implemented and monitored?
• Are stovepipe (point) solutions implemented instead of enterprise-wide
solutions?
• Are the same expensive mistakes continuing to take place?
• Is security governance currently unavailable because the enterprise is not
viewed or monitored in a standardized and holistic manner?
• Are business decisions being made without taking security into account?
• Are security personnel usually putting out fires with no real time to look at
and develop strategic approaches?

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

50
• Are security efforts taking place in business units that other business units
know nothing about?
• Are more and more security personnel seeking out shrinks and going on
antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication?
If many of these answers are “yes,” no useful architecture is in place. Now, the following is something very interesting the author has seen over several years. Most organizations have the problems listed earlier and yet they focus on each item as if they
were unconnected. What the CSO, CISO, and/or security administrator does not always
understand is that these are just symptoms of a treatable disease. The “treatment” is to
put one person in charge of a team that develops a phased-approach enterprise security
architecture rollout plan. The goals are to integrate technology-oriented and businesscentric security processes; link administrative, technical, and physical controls to properly manage risk; and integrate these processes into the IT infrastructure, business
processes, and the organization’s culture.
The main reason organizations do not develop and roll out an enterprise security
architecture is that they do not fully understand what one is and it seems like an overwhelming task. Fighting fires is more understandable and straightforward, so many
companies stay with this familiar approach.
A group developed the Sherwood Applied Business Security Architecture (SABSA), as
shown in Table 2-3, which is similar to the Zachman framework. It is a layered model,

Assets
(What)

Motivation
(Why)

Process
(How)

People
(Who)

Location
(Where)

Time
(When)

Contextual

The
business

Business risk
model

Business process
model

Business
organization and
relationships

Business
geography

Business time
dependencies

Conceptual

Business
attributes
profile

Control
objectives

Security
strategies and
architectural
layering

Security entity
model and trust
framework

Security
domain
model

Security-related
lifetimes and
deadlines

Logical

Business
information
model

Security
policies

Security services

Entity schema
and privilege
profiles

Security
domain
definitions
and
associations

Security
processing cycle

Physical

Business
data model

Security rules,
practices, and
procedures

Security
mechanisms

Users,
applications, and
user interface

Platform
and network
infrastructure

Control
structure
execution

Component

Detailed
data
structures

Security
standards

Security products
and tools

Identities,
functions,
actions, and
ACLs

Processes,
nodes,
addresses,
and protocols

Security step
timing and
sequencing

Operational

Assurance
of operation
continuity

Operation
risk
management

Security service
management and
support

Application
and user
management and
support

Security
of sites,
networks, and
platforms

Security
operations
schedule

Table 2-3 SABSA Architectural Framework

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

51
with its first layer defining business requirements from a security perspective. Each layer of the model decreases in abstraction and increases in detail so it builds upon the
others and moves from policy to practical implementation of technology and solutions. The idea is to provide a chain of traceability through the strategic, conceptual,
design, implementation, and metric and auditing levels.
The following outlines the questions that are to be asked and answered at each
level of the framework:
• What are you trying to do at this layer? The assets to be protected by your
security architecture.
• Why are you doing it? The motivation for wanting to apply security,
expressed in the terms of this layer.
• How are you trying to do it? The functions needed to achieve security
at this layer.
• Who is involved?
this layer.

The people and organizational aspects of security at

• Where are you doing it? The locations where you apply your security,
relevant to this layer.
• When are you doing it? The time-related aspects of security relevant to
this layer.
SABSA is a framework and methodology for enterprise security architecture and
service management. Since it is a framework, this means it provides a structure for individual architectures to be built from. Since it is a methodology also, this means it provides the processes to follow to build and maintain this architecture. SABSA provides a
life-cycle model so that the architecture can be constantly monitored and improved
upon over time.
For an enterprise security architecture to be successful in its development and implementation, the following items must be understood and followed: strategic alignment, process enhancement, business enablement, and security effectiveness.
Strategic alignment means the business drivers and the regulatory and legal requirements are being met by the security enterprise architecture. Security efforts must provide and support an environment that allows a company to not only survive, but thrive.
The security industry has grown up from the technical and engineering world, not the
business world. In many organizations, while the IT security personnel and business
personnel might be located physically close to each other, they are commonly worlds
apart in how they see the same organization they work in. Technology is only a tool
that supports a business; it is not the business itself. The IT environment is analogous
to the circulatory system within a human body; it is there to support the body—the
body does not exist to support the circulatory system. And security is analogous to the
immune system of the body—it is there to protect the overall environment. If these
critical systems (business, IT, security) do not work together in a concerted effort, there
will be deficiencies and imbalances. While deficiencies and imbalances lead to disease
in the body, deficiencies and imbalances within an organization can lead to risk and
security compromises.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

52
ISMS vs. Security Enterprise Architecture
We need to develop stuff and stick that stuff into an organized container.
What is the difference between an ISMS and an enterprise security architecture? An ISMS outlines the controls that need to put into place (risk management, vulnerability management, BCP, data protection, auditing, configuration
management, physical security, etc.) and provides direction on how those controls should be managed throughout their life cycle. The ISMS specifies the pieces
and parts that need to be put into place to provide a holistic security program for
the organization overall and how to properly take care of those pieces and parts.
The enterprise security architecture illustrates how these components are to be
integrated into the different layers of the current business environment. The security components of the ISMS have to be interwoven throughout the business environment and not siloed within individual company departments.
For example, the ISMS will dictate that risk management needs to be put in
place, and the enterprise architecture will chop up the risk management components and illustrate how risk management needs to take place at the strategic,
tactical, and operational levels. As another example, the ISMS could dictate that
data protection needs to be put into place. The architecture can show how this
happens at the infrastructure, application, component, and business level. At the
infrastructure level we can implement data loss protection technology to detect
how sensitive data is traversing the network. Applications that maintain sensitive
data must have the necessary access controls and cryptographic functionality. The
components within the applications can implement the specific cryptographic
functions. And protecting sensitive company information can be tied to business
drivers, which is illustrated at the business level of the architecture.
The ISO/IEC 27000 series (which outlines the ISMS) is very policy-oriented
and outlines the necessary components of a security program. This means that
the ISO standards are general in nature, which is not a defect—they were created
that way so that they could be applied to various types of businesses, companies,
and organizations. But since these standards are general, it can be difficult to
know how to implement them and map them to your company’s infrastructure
and business needs. This is where the enterprise security architecture comes into
play. The architecture is a tool used to ensure that what is outlined in the security
standards is implemented throughout the different layers of an organization.
When looking at the business enablement requirement of the security enterprise architecture, we need to remind ourselves that companies are in business to make money.
Companies and organizations do not exist for the sole purpose of being secure. Security cannot stand in the way of business processes, but should be implemented to better
enable them.
Business enablement means the core business processes are integrated into the security operating model—they are standards-based and follow a risk tolerance criteria.
What does this mean in the real world? Let’s say a company’s accountants have figured
out that if they allow the customer service and support staff to work from home, the
company would save a lot of money on office rent, utilities, and overhead—plus, their

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

53
insurance is cheaper. The company could move into this new model with the use of
VPNs, firewalls, content filtering, and so on. Security enables the company to move to
this different working model by providing the necessary protection mechanisms. If a
financial institution wants to allow their customers the ability to view bank account
information and carry out money transfers, it can offer this service if the correct security mechanisms are put in place (access control, authentication, secure connections,
etc.). Security should help the organization thrive by providing the mechanisms to do
new things safely.
The process enhancement piece can be quite beneficial to an organization if it takes
advantage of this capability when it is presented to them. When an organization is serious about securing their environment, it means they will have to take a close look at
many of the business processes that take place on an ongoing process. Many times
these processes are viewed through the eyeglasses of security, because that’s the reason
for the activity, but this is a perfect chance to enhance and improve upon the same
processes to increase productivity. When you look at many business processes taking
place in all types of organizations, you commonly find a duplication of efforts, manual
steps that can be easily automated, or ways to streamline and reduce time and effort
that are involved in certain tasks. This is commonly referred to as process reengineering.
When an organization is developing its security enterprise components, those components must be integrated into the business processes to be effective. This can allow
for process management to be refined and calibrated. This allows for security to be integrated in system life cycles and day-to-day operations. So while business enablement
means “we can do new stuff,” process enhancement means “we can do stuff better.”
Security effectiveness deals with metrics, meeting service level agreement (SLA) requirements, achieving return on investment (ROI), meeting set baselines, and providing management with a dashboard or balanced scorecard system. These are ways to
determine how useful the current security solutions and architecture as a whole are
performing.
Many organizations are just getting to the security effectiveness point of their architecture, because there is a need to ensure that the controls in place are providing the
necessary level of protection and that finite funds are being used properly. Once baselines are set, then metrics can be developed to verify baseline compliancy. These metrics
are then rolled up to management in a format they can understand that shows them the
health of the organization’s security posture and compliance levels. This also allows
management to make informed business decisions. Security affects almost everything
today in business, so this information should be readily available to senior management in a form they can actually use.

Enterprise vs. System Architectures
Our operating systems follow strict and hierarchical structures, but our company is a mess.
There is a difference between enterprise architectures and system architectures, although they do overlap. An enterprise architecture addresses the structure of an organization. A system architecture addresses the structure of software and computing
components. While these different architecture types have different focuses (organization versus system), they have a direct relationship because the systems have to be able
to support the organization and its security needs. A software architect cannot design

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

54
an application that will be used within a company without understanding what the
company needs the application to do. So the software architect needs to understand the
business and technical aspects of the company to ensure that the software is properly
developed for the needs of the organization.
It is important to realize that the rules outlined in an organizational security policy
have to be supported all the way down to application code, the security kernel of an
operating system, and hardware security provided by a computer’s CPU. Security has to
be integrated at every organizational and technical level if it is going to be successful.
This is why some architecture frameworks cover company functionality from the business process level all the way down to how components within an application work. All
of this detailed interaction and interdependencies must be understood. Otherwise, the
wrong software is developed, the wrong product is purchased, interoperability issues
arise, and business functions are only partially supported.
As an analogy, an enterprise and system architecture relationship is similar to the
relationship between a solar system and individual planets. A solar system is made up
of planets, just like an enterprise is made up of systems. It is very difficult to understand the solar system as a whole while focusing on the specific characteristics of a
planet (soil compensation, atmosphere, etc.). It is also difficult to understand the
complexities of the individual planets when looking at the solar system as a whole.
Each viewpoint (solar system versus planet) has its focus and use. The same is true
when viewing an enterprise versus a system architecture. The enterprise view is looking
at the whole enchilada, while the system view is looking at the individual pieces that
make up that enchilada.
NOTE While we covered security architecture mainly from an enterprise
view in this chapter, we will cover more system-specific architecture
frameworks, such as ISO/IEC 42010:2007, in Chapter 4.

Enterprise Architectures: Scary Beasts
If these enterprise architecture models are new to you and a bit confusing, do not
worry; you are not alone. While enterprise architecture frameworks are great tools
to understand and help control all the complex pieces within an organization, the
security industry is still maturing in its use of these types of architectures. Most
companies develop policies and then focus on the technologies to enforce those
policies, which skips the whole step of security enterprise development. This is
mainly because the information security field is still learning how to grow up and
out of the IT department and into established corporate environments. As security
and business truly become more intertwined, these enterprise frameworks won’t
seem as abstract and foreign, but useful tools that are properly leveraged.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

55
Security Controls Development
We have our architecture. Now what do we put inside it?
Response: Marshmallows.
Up to now we have our ISO/IEC 27000 series, which outlines the necessary components of an organizational security program. We also have our security enterprise architecture, which helps us integrate the requirements outlined in our security program
into our existing business structure. Now we are going to get more focused and look at
the objectives of the controls we are going to put into place to accomplish the goals
outlined in our security program and enterprise architecture.

CobiT
The Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (CobiT) is a framework
and set of control objectives developed by the Information Systems Audit and Control
Association (ISACA) and the IT Governance Institute (ITGI). It defines goals for the
controls that should be used to properly manage IT and to ensure that IT maps to business needs. CobiT is broken down into four domains: Plan and Organize, Acquire and
Implement, Deliver and Support, and Monitor and Evaluate. Each category drills down
into subcategories. For example, the Acquire and Implement category contains the following subcategories:
• Acquire and Maintain Application Software
• Acquire and Maintain Technology Infrastructure
• Develop and Maintain Procedures
• Install and Accredit Systems
• Manage Changes
So this CobiT domain provides goals and guidance to companies that they can follow when they purchase, install, test, certify, and accredit IT products. This is very powerful because most companies use an ad hoc and informal approach when making
purchases and carrying out procedures. CobiT provides a “checklist” approach to IT
governance by providing a list of things that must be thought through and accomplished when carrying out different IT functions.
CobiT lays out executive summaries, management guidelines, frameworks, control objectives, an implementation toolset, performance indicators, success factors,
maturity models, and audit guidelines. It lays out a complete roadmap that can be
followed to accomplish each of the 34 control objectives this model deals with. Figure 2-5 illustrates how the framework connects business requirements, IT resources,
and IT processes.

PO1 Define a strategic IT plan
PO2 Define the information architecture
PO3 Determine the technological direction
PO4 Define the IT processes, organization,
and relationships
PO5 Manage the IT investment
PO6 Communicate management aims and directions
PO7 Manage IT human resources
PO8 Manage quality
PO9 Assess and manage risks
PO10 Manage projects

•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Effectiveness
Efficiency
Confidentiality
Integrity
Availability
Compliance
IT Resources
Reliability
• Applications
• Information
• Infrastructure
• People

Plan and
Organize

Monitor and
Evaluate
Acquire and
Implement

DS1 Define service levels
DS2 Manage third-party services
DS3 Manage performance and capacity
DS4 Ensure continuous service
DS5 Ensure systems security
DS6 Identify and attribute costs
DS7 Educate and train users
DS8 Manage service desk and incidents
DS9 Manage the configuration
DS10 Manage problems
DS11 Manage data
DS12 Manage the physical environment
DS13 Manage operations

Figure 2-5 CobiT framework

Deliver and
Support

AI1 Identify automated solutions
AI2 Acquire and maintain application software
AI3 Acquire and maintain technology infrastructure
AI4 Enable operation and use
AI5 Procure IT resources
AI6 Manage changes
AI7 Install and accredit solutions and changes

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

Business Goals

Information Criteria

ME1 Monitor and evaluate IT performance
ME2 Monitor and evaluate internal control
ME3 Ensure regulatory compliance
ME4 Provide IT governance

56

Governance Drivers

CobiT 4.0
Framework

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

57
So how does CobiT fit into the big picture? When you develop your security policies
that are aligned with the ISO/IEC 27000 series, these are high-level documents that
have statements like, “Unauthorized access should not be permitted.” But who is authorized? How do we authorize individuals? How are we implementing access control
to ensure that unauthorized access is not taking place? How do we know our access
control components are working properly? This is really where the rubber hits the
road, where words within a document (policy) come to life in real-world practical implementations. CobiT provides the objective that the real-world implementations (controls) you chose to put into place need to meet. For example, CobiT outlines the
following control practices for user account management:
• Using unique user IDs to enable users to be linked to and held accountable
for their actions
• Checking that the user has authorization from the system owner for the
use of the information system or service, and the level of access granted is
appropriate to the business purpose and consistent with the organizational
security policy
• A procedure to require users to understand and acknowledge their access
rights and the conditions of such access
• Ensuring that internal and external service providers do not provide access
until authorization procedures have been completed
• Maintaining a formal record, including access levels, of all persons registered
to use the service
• A timely and regular review of user IDs and access rights
An organization should make sure that it is meeting at least these goals when it
comes to user account management, and in turn this is what an auditor is going to go
by to ensure the organization is practicing security properly. A majority of the security
compliance auditing practices used today in the industry are based off of CobiT. So if
you want to make your auditors happy and pass your compliancy evaluations, you
should learn, practice, and implement the control objectives outlined in CobiT, which
are considered industry best practices.
NOTE Many people in the security industry mistakenly assume that CobiT is
purely security focused, when in reality it deals with all aspects of information
technology, security only being one component. CobiT is a set of practices
that can be followed to carry out IT governance, which requires proper
security practices.

NIST 800-53
Are there standard approaches to locking down government systems?
CobiT contains control objectives used within the private sector; the U.S. government has its own set of requirements when it comes to controls for federal information
systems and organizations.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

58
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a nonregulatory body
of the U.S. Department of Commerce and its mission is
“Promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science,
standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve quality of life.”
One of the standards that NIST has been responsible for developing is called Special Publication 800-53, which outlines controls that agencies need to put into place to
be compliant with the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002. Table 2-4
outlines the control categories that are addressed in this publication.
The control categories (families) are the management, operational, and technical
controls prescribed for an information system to protect the confidentiality, integrity,
and availability of the system and its information.
Just as IS auditors in the commercial sector follow CobiT for their “checklist” approach to evaluating an organization’s compliancy with business-oriented regulations,
government auditors use SP 800-53 as their “checklist” approach for ensuring that government agencies are compliant with government-oriented regulations. While these
control objective checklists are different (CobiT versus SP 800-53), there is extensive
overlap because systems and networks need to be protected in similar ways no matter
what type of organization they reside in.
Identifier

Family

Class

AC

Access Control

Technical

AT

Awareness and Training

Operational

AU

Audit and Accountability

Technical

CA

Security Assessment and Authorization

Management

CM

Configuration Management

Operational

CP

Contingency Planning

Operational

IA

Identification and Authentication

Technical

IR

Incident Response

Operational

MA

Maintenance

Operational

MP

Media Protection

Operational

PE

Physical and Environmental Protection

Operational

PL

Planning

Management

PM

Program Management

Management

PS

Personnel Security

Operational

RA

Risk Assessment

Management

SA

System and Services Acquisition

Management

SC

System and Communications Protection

Technical

SI

System and Information Integrity

Operational

Table 2-4

NIST 800-53 Control Categories

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

59
CAUTION On the CISSP exam you can see control categories broken down
into administrative, technical, and physical categories and the categories
outlined by NIST, which are management, technical, and operational. Be familiar
with both ways of categorizing control types.

COSO
I put our expenses in the profit column so it looks like we have more money.
Response: Yeah, no one will figure that out.
CobiT was derived from the COSO framework, developed by the Committee of
Sponsoring Organizations (COSO) of the Treadway Commission in 1985 to deal with
fraudulent financial activities and reporting. The COSO framework is made up of the
following components:
• Control environment
• Management’s philosophy and operating style
• Company culture as it pertains to ethics and fraud
• Risk assessment
• Establishment of risk objectives
• Ability to manage internal and external change
• Control activities
• Policies, procedures, and practices put in place to mitigate risk
• Information and communication
• Structure that ensures that the right people get the right information at the
right time
• Monitoring
• Detecting and responding to control deficiencies
COSO is a model for corporate governance, and CobiT is a model for IT governance.
COSO deals more at the strategic level, while CobiT focuses more at the operational
level. You can think of CobiT as a way to meet many of the COSO objectives, but only
from the IT perspective. COSO deals with non-IT items also, as in company culture, financial accounting principles, board of director responsibility, and internal communication structures. COSO was formed to provide sponsorship for the National
Commission on Fraudulent Financial Reporting, an organization that studies deceptive
financial reports and what elements lead to them.
There have been laws in place since the 1970s that basically state that it was illegal
for a corporation to cook its books (manipulate its revenue and earnings reports), but
it took the Sarbanes–Oxley Act (SOX) of 2002 to really put teeth into those existing
laws. SOX is a U.S. federal law that, among other things, could send executives to jail if
it was discovered that their company was submitting fraudulent accounting findings to
the Security Exchange Commission (SEC). SOX is based upon the COSO model, so for

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

60
a corporation to be compliant with SOX, it has to follow the COSO model. Companies
commonly implement ISO/IEC 27000 standards and CobiT to help construct and
maintain their internal COSO structure.
NOTE The CISSP exam does not cover specific laws, as in the Federal
Information Security Management Act and Sarbanes–Oxley Act, but it does cover
the security control model frameworks, as in ISO standards, CobiT, and COSO.

Process Management Development
Along with ensuring that we have the proper controls in place, we also want to have ways
to construct and improve our business, IT, and security processes in a structured and
controlled manner. The security controls can be considered the “things,” and processes
are how we use these things. We want to use them properly, effectively, and efficiently.

ITIL
How do I make sure our IT supports our business units?
Response: We have a whole library for that.
The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is the de facto standard of
best practices for IT service management. ITIL was created because of the increased dependence on information technology to meet business needs. Unfortunately, a natural
divide exists between business people and IT people in most organizations because
they use different terminology and have different focuses within the organization. The
lack of a common language and understanding of each other’s domain (business versus
IT) has caused many companies to ineffectively blend their business objectives and IT
functions. This improper blending usually generates confusion, miscommunication,
missed deadlines, missed opportunities, increased cost in time and labor, and frustration on both the business and technical sides of the house. ITIL is a customizable
framework that is provided in a set of books or in an online format. It provides the
goals, the general activities necessary to achieve these goals, and the input and output
values for each process required to meet these determined goals. Although ITIL has a
component that deals with security, its focus is more toward internal service level agreements between the IT department and the “customers” it serves. The customers are usually internal departments. The main components that make up ITIL are illustrated in
Figure 2-6.

Six Sigma
I have a black belt in business improvement.
Response: Why is it tied around your head?
Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology. It is the “new and improved”
Total Quality Management (TQM) that hit the business sector in the 1980s. Its goal is
to improve process quality by using statistical methods of measuring operation effi-

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

61
inual Process Improvement
Cont

Service level
management

Service catalog
management
Availability
management

Supplier
management

Service design

Configuration
management
system

Incident
management
ITIL

Service
testing and
validation

Release and
deployment
management

Event
management

Knowledge
management
Problem
management

Change
management

Figure 2-6 ITIL

ciency and reducing variation, defects, and waste. Six Sigma is being used in the security assurance industry in some instances to measure the success factors of different
controls and procedures. Six Sigma was developed by Motorola with the goal of identifying and removing defects in its manufacturing processes. The maturity of a process is
described by a sigma rating, which indicates the percentage of defects that the process
contains. While it started in manufacturing, Six Sigma has been applied to many types
of business functions, including information security and assurance.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

62
Capability Maturity Model Integration
I only want to get better, and better, and better.
Response: I only want you to go away.
Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) came from the security engineering
world. We will covering it more in depth from that point of view in Chapter 10, but this
model is also used within organizations to help lay out a pathway of how incremental
improvement can take place.
While we know that we constantly need to make our security program better, it is
not always easy to accomplish because “better” is a vague and nonquantifiable concept.
The only way we can really improve is to know where we are starting from, where we
need to go, and the steps we need to take in between. Every security program has a maturity level, which is illustrated in Figure 2-7. Each maturity level within this CMMI
model represents an evolutionary stage. Some security programs are chaotic, ad hoc,
unpredictable, and usually insecure. Some security programs have documentation created, but the actual processes are not taking place. Some security programs are quite
evolved, streamlined, efficient, and effective.

ed
Defin ures
d
proce
ity
Secur ned
assig IT
to
tive
Reac ities
activ
No nt
sme
asses
oc
Ad h
and ed
ganiz
disor
No s
s
proce
nt
xiste
None ement
g
mana
0
Level

ture
Imma d
an
ping
develo

able
edict
Unpr cesses
pro

ity
Secur d
an
ess
busin tives
objec ped
map

ed
ment
Docu and
ted
unica
comm

tured
Struc nd
a
prise
enter ide
w

d
mate
Auto ctices
a
r
p

ored
Monit nd
a
ured
meas

ized
Optimesses
proc

ged
Mana es
ss
proce

ed
Defin es
ss
proce

atable
Repe sses
proce

Level
4
Level
3
Level

2
Level

1
Level

Figure 2-7 Capability Maturity Model for a security program

5

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

63
Security Program Development
No organization is going to put all the previously listed items (ISO/IEC 27000,
COSO, Zachman, SABSA, CobiT, NIST 800-53, ITIL, Six Sigma, CMMI) in place.
But it is a good toolbox of things you can pull from, and you will find some fit
the organization you work in better than others. You will also find that as your
organization’s security program matures, you will see more clearly where these
various standards, frameworks, and management components come into play.
While these items are separate and distinct, there are basic things that need to be
built in for any security program and its corresponding controls. This is because
the basic tenets of security are universal no matter if they are being deployed in a
corporation, government agency, business, school, or nonprofit organization.
Each entity is made up of people, processes, data, and technology and each of
these things needs to be protected.
The crux of CMMI is to develop structured steps that can be followed so an organization can evolve from one level to the next and constantly improve its processes and
security posture. A security program contains a lot of elements, and it is not fair to expect them all to be properly implemented within the first year of its existence. And
some components, as in forensics capabilities, really cannot be put into place until
some rudimentary pieces are established, as in incident management. So if we really
want our baby to be able to run, we have to lay out ways that it can first learn to walk.

Top-down Approach
The janitor said we should wrap our computers in tin foil to meet our information security needs.
Response: Maybe we should ask management first.
A security program should use a top-down approach, meaning that the initiation, support, and direction come from top management; work their way through
middle management; and then reach staff members. In contrast, a bottom-up approach refers to a situation in which staff members (usually IT) try to develop a
security program without getting proper management support and direction. A
bottom-up approach is commonly less effective, not broad enough to address all
security risks, and doomed to fail. A top-down approach makes sure the people
actually responsible for protecting the company’s assets (senior management) are
driving the program. Senior management are not only ultimately responsible for
the protection of the organization, but also hold the purse strings for the necessary funding, have the authority to assign needed resources, and are the only ones
who can ensure true enforcement of the stated security rules and policies. Management’s support is one of the most important pieces of a security program. A
simple nod and a wink will not provide the amount of support required.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

64
While the cores of these various security standards and frameworks are similar, it is
important to understand that a security program has a life cycle that is always continuing, because it should be constantly evaluated and improved upon. The life cycle of any
process can be described in different ways. We will use the following steps:
1. Plan and organize
2. Implement
3. Operate and maintain
4. Monitor and evaluate
Without setting up a life-cycle approach to a security program and the security management that maintains the program, an organization is doomed to treat security as
merely another project. Anything treated as a project has a start and stop date, and at
the stop date everyone disperses to other projects. Many organizations have had good
intentions in their security program kickoffs, but do not implement the proper structure to ensure that security management is an ongoing and continually improving process. The result is a lot of starts and stops over the years and repetitive work that costs
more than it should, with diminishing results.
The main components of each phase are provided in the following:
• Plan and Organize
• Establish management commitment.
• Establish oversight steering committee.
• Assess business drivers.
• Develop a threat profile on the organization.
• Carry out a risk assessment.
• Develop security architectures at business, data, application, and
infrastructure levels.
• Identify solutions per architecture level.
• Obtain management approval to move forward.
• Implement
• Assign roles and responsibilities.
• Develop and implement security policies, procedures, standards, baselines,
and guidelines.
• Identify sensitive data at rest and in transit.
• Implement the following blueprints:
• Asset identification and management
• Risk management

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

65
• Vulnerability management
• Compliance
• Identity management and access control
• Change control
• Software development life cycle
• Business continuity planning
• Awareness and training
• Physical security
• Incident response
• Implement solutions (administrative, technical, physical) per blueprint.
• Develop auditing and monitoring solutions per blueprint.
• Establish goals, service level agreements (SLAs), and metrics per blueprint.
• Operate and Maintain
• Follow procedures to ensure all baselines are met in each implemented
blueprint.
• Carry out internal and external audits.
• Carry out tasks outlined per blueprint.
• Manage SLAs per blueprint.
• Monitor and Evaluate
• Review logs, audit results, collected metric values, and SLAs per blueprint.
• Assess goal accomplishments per blueprint.
• Carry out quarterly meetings with steering committees.
• Develop improvement steps and integrate into the Plan and Organize
phase.
Many of the items mentioned in the previous list are covered throughout this book.
This list was provided to show how all of these items can be rolled out in a sequential
and controllable manner.
Although the previously covered standards and frameworks are very helpful, they
are also very high level. For example, if a standard simply states that an organization
must secure its data, a great amount of work will be called for. This is where the security professional really rolls up her sleeves, by developing security blueprints. Blueprints
are important tools to identify, develop, and design security requirements for specific
business needs. These blueprints must be customized to fulfill the organization’s security requirements, which are based on its regulatory obligations, business drivers, and

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

66
legal obligations. For example, let’s say Company Y has a data protection policy, and
their security team has developed standards and procedures pertaining to the data protection strategy the company should follow. The blueprint will then get more granular
and lay out the processes and components necessary to meet requirements outlined in
the policy, standards, and requirements. This would include at least a diagram of the
company network that illustrates:
• Where the sensitive data resides within the network
• The network segments that the sensitive data transverses
• The different security solutions in place (VPN, SSL, PGP) that protect the
sensitive data
• Third-party connections where sensitive data is shared
• Security measures in place for third-party connections
• And more…
The blueprints to be developed and followed depend upon the organization’s business needs. If Company Y uses identity management, there must be a blueprint outlining roles, registration management, authoritative source, identity repositories, single
sign-on solutions, and so on. If Company Y does not use identity management, there is
no need to build a blueprint for this.
So the blueprint will lay out the security solutions, processes, and components the
organization uses to match its security and business needs. These blueprints must be
applied to the different business units within the organization. For example, the identity management practiced in each of the different departments should follow the crafted blueprint. Following these blueprints throughout the organization allows for
standardization, easier metric gathering, and governance. Figure 2-8 illustrates where
these blueprints come into play when developing a security program.
To tie these pieces together, you can think of the ISO/IEC 27000 that works mainly
at the policy level as a description of the type of house you want to build (two-story,
ranch-style, five bedroom, three bath). The security enterprise framework is the architecture layout of the house (foundation, walls, ceilings). The blueprints are the detailed
descriptions of specific components of the house (window types, security system, electrical system, plumbing). And the control objectives are the building specifications and
codes that need to be met for safety (electrical grounding and wiring, construction
material, insulation and fire protection). A building inspector will use his checklists
(building codes) to ensure that you are building your house safely. Which is just like
how an auditor will use his checklists (CobiT or SP 800-53) to ensure that you are
building and maintaining your security program securely.
Once your house is built and your family moves in, you set up schedules and processes for everyday life to happen in a predictable and efficient manner (dad picks up
kids from school, mom cooks dinner, teenager does laundry, dad pays the bills, every-

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

67

Figure 2-8 Blueprints must map the security and business requirements.

one does yard work). This is analogous to ITIL—process management and improvement. If the family is made up of anal overachievers with the goal of optimizing these
daily activities to be as efficient as possible, they could integrate a Six Sigma approach
where continual process improvement is a focus.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

68
Key Terms
• Security through obscurity Relying upon the secrecy or complexity of
an item as its security, instead of practicing solid security practices.
• ISO/IEC 27000 series Industry-recognized best practices for the
development and management of an information security management
system.
• Zachman framework Enterprise architecture framework used to
define and understand a business environment developed by John
Zachman.
• TOGAF Enterprise architecture framework used to define and
understand a business environment developed by The Open Group.
• SABSA framework Risk-driven enterprise security architecture that
maps to business initiatives, similar to the Zachman framework.
• DoDAF U.S. Department of Defense architecture framework that
ensures interoperability of systems to meet military mission goals.
• MODAF Architecture framework used mainly in military support
missions developed by the British Ministry of Defence.
• CobiT Set of control objectives used as a framework for IT governance
developed by Information Systems Audit and Control Association
(ISACA) and the IT Governance Institute (ITGI).
• SP 800-53 Set of controls that are used to secure U.S. federal systems
developed by NIST.
• COSO Internal control model used for corporate governance to
help prevent fraud developed by the Committee of Sponsoring
Organizations (COSO) of the Treadway Commission.
• ITIL Best practices for information technology services management
processes developed by the United Kingdom’s Office of Government
Commerce.
• Six Sigma Business management strategy developed by Motorola with
the goal of improving business processes.
• Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Process
improvement model developed by Carnegie Mellon.

Functionality vs. Security
Yes, we are secure, but we can’t do anything.
Anyone who has been involved with a security initiative understands it involves a
balancing act between securing an environment and still allowing the necessary level of
functionality so that productivity is not affected. A common scenario that occurs at the

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

69
start of many security projects is that the individuals in charge of the project know the
end result they want to achieve and have lofty ideas of how quick and efficient their
security rollout will be, but they fail to consult the users regarding what restrictions will
be placed upon them. The users, upon hearing of the restrictions, then inform the project managers that they will not be able to fulfill certain parts of their job if the security
rollout actually takes place as planned. This usually causes the project to screech to a
halt. The project managers then must initialize the proper assessments, evaluations,
and planning to see how the environment can be slowly secured and how to ease users
and tasks delicately into new restrictions or ways of doing business. Failing to consult
users or to fully understand business processes during the planning phase causes many
headaches and wastes time and money. Individuals who are responsible for security
management activities must realize they need to understand the environment and plan
properly before kicking off the implementation phase of a security program.

Security Management
Now that we built this thing, how do we manage it?
Response: Try kicking it.
We hear about viruses causing millions of dollars in damages, hackers from around
the world capturing credit card information from financial institutions, web sites of
large corporations and governments systems being attacked for political reasons, and
hackers being caught and sent to jail. These are the more exciting aspects of information security, but realistically these activities are not what the average corporation or
security professional must usually deal with when it comes to daily or monthly security tasks. Although viruses and hacking get all the headlines, security management is
the core of a company’s business and information security structure.
Security management has changed over the years because networked environments,
computers, and the applications that hold information have changed. Information
used to be held primarily in mainframes, which worked in a more centralized network
structure. The mainframe and management consoles used to access and configure the
mainframe were placed in a centralized area instead of having the distributed networks
we see today. Only certain people were allowed access, and only a small set of people
knew how the mainframe worked, which drastically reduced security risks. Users were
able to access information on the mainframe through “dumb” terminals (they were
called this because they had little or no logic built into them). There was not much
need for strict security controls to be put into place because this closed environment
provided a cocoon-like protection environment. However, the computing society did
not stay in this type of architecture. Today, most networks are filled with personal computers that have advanced logic and processing power; users know enough about the
systems to be dangerous; and the information is not centralized within one “glass
house.” Instead, the information lives on servers, workstations, laptops, wireless devices, mobile devices, databases, and other networks. Information passes over wires
and airways at a rate not even conceived of 10 to 15 years ago.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

70
The Internet, extranets (business partner networks), and intranets not only make
security much more complex, but they also make security even more critical. The core
network architecture has changed from being a localized, stand-alone computing environment to a distributed computing environment that has increased exponentially
with complexity. Although connecting a network to the Internet adds more functionality and services for the users and expands the organization’s visibility to the Internet
world, it opens the floodgates to potential security risks.
Today, a majority of organizations could not function if they were to lose their computers and processing capabilities. Computers have been integrated into the business
and individual daily fabric, and their sudden unavailability would cause great pain and
disruption. Most organizations have realized that their data is as much an asset to be
protected as their physical buildings, factory equipment, and other physical assets. In
most situations, the organization’s sensitive data is even more important than these
physical assets and is considered the organization’s crown jewels. As networks and environments have changed, so has the need for security. Security is more than just the
technical controls we put in place to protect the organization’s assets; these controls
must be managed, and a big part of security is managing the actions of users and the
procedures they follow. Security management practices focus on the continuous protection of an organization’s assets and resources.
Security management encompasses all the activities that are needed to keep a security program up and running and evolving. It includes risk management, documentation, security control implementation and management, processes and procedures,
personnel security, auditing, and continual security awareness training. A risk analysis
identifies the critical assets, discovers the threats that put them at risk, and is used to
estimate the possible damage and potential loss an organization could endure if any of
these threats were to become real. The risk analysis helps management construct a budget with the necessary funds to protect the recognized assets from their identified threats
and develop applicable security policies that provide direction for security activities.
Protection controls are identified, implemented, and maintained to keep the organization’s security risks at an acceptable level. Security education and awareness take this
information to each and every employee within the company so everyone is properly
informed and can more easily work toward the same security goals.
The following sections will cover some of the most important components of managing a security program once it is up and running.

Risk Management
Life is full of risk.
Risk in the context of security is the possibility of damage happening and the ramifications of such damage should it occur. Information risk management (IRM) is the
process of identifying and assessing risk, reducing it to an acceptable level, and implementing the right mechanisms to maintain that level. There is no such thing as a 100-percent secure environment. Every environment has vulnerabilities and threats. The skill is
in identifying these threats, assessing the probability of them actually occurring and the
damage they could cause, and then taking the right steps to reduce the overall level of
risk in the environment to what the organization identifies as acceptable.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

71
Risks to an organization come in different forms, and they are not all computer
related. When a company purchases another company, it takes on a lot of risk in the
hope that this move will increase its market base, productivity, and profitability. If a
company increases its product line, this can add overhead, increase the need for personnel and storage facilities, require more funding for different materials, and maybe increase insurance premiums and the expense of marketing campaigns. The risk is that
this added overhead might not be matched in sales; thus, profitability will be reduced
or not accomplished.
When we look at information security, note that an organization needs to be aware
of several types of risk and address them properly. The following items touch on the
major categories:
• Physical damage Fire, water, vandalism, power loss, and natural disasters
• Human interaction Accidental or intentional action or inaction that can
disrupt productivity
• Equipment malfunction Failure of systems and peripheral devices
• Inside and outside attacks Hacking, cracking, and attacking
• Misuse of data Sharing trade secrets, fraud, espionage, and theft
• Loss of data Intentional or unintentional loss of information to
unauthorized receivers
• Application error Computation errors, input errors, and buffer overflows
Threats must be identified, classified by category, and evaluated to calculate their
damage potential to the organization. Real risk is hard to measure, but prioritizing the
potential risks in order of which ones must be addressed first is obtainable.

Who Really Understands Risk Management?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is that not enough people inside or outside
of the security profession really understand risk management. Even though information security is big business today, the focus is more on applications, devices, viruses,
and hacking. Although these items all must be considered and weighed in risk management processes, they should be considered small pieces of the overall security puzzle,
not the main focus of risk management.
Security is a business issue, but businesses operate to make money, not just to be
secure. A business is concerned with security only if potential risks threaten its bottom
line, which they can in many ways, such as through the loss of reputation and their
customer base after a database of credit card numbers is compromised; through the loss
of thousands of dollars in operational expenses from a new computer worm; through
the loss of proprietary information as a result of successful company espionage attempts; through the loss of confidential information from a successful social engineering attack; and so on. It is critical that security professionals understand these
individual threats, but it is more important that they understand how to calculate the
risk of these threats and map them to business drivers.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

72
Knowing the difference between the definitions of “vulnerability,” “threat,” and
“risk” may seem trivial to you, but it is more critical than most people truly understand.
A vulnerability scanner can identify dangerous services that are running, unnecessary
accounts, and unpatched systems. That is the easy part. But if you have a security budget
of only $120,000 and you have a long list of vulnerabilities that need attention, do you
have the proper skill to know which ones should be dealt with first? Since you have a
finite amount of money and an almost infinite number of vulnerabilities, how do you
properly rank the most critical vulnerabilities to ensure that your company is addressing the most critical issues and providing the most return on investment of funds? This
is what risk management is all about.
Carrying out risk management properly means that you have a holistic understanding of your organization, the threats it faces, the countermeasures that can be put into
place to deal with those threats, and continuous monitoring to ensure the acceptable
risk level is being met on an ongoing basis.

Information Risk Management Policy
How do I put all of these risk management pieces together?
Response: Let’s check out the policy.
Proper risk management requires a strong commitment from senior management,
a documented process that supports the organization’s mission, an information risk
management (IRM) policy, and a delegated IRM team.
The IRM policy should be a subset of the organization’s overall risk management
policy (risks to a company include more than just information security issues) and should be
mapped to the organizational security policies. The IRM policy should address the following items:
• The objectives of the IRM team
• The level of risk the organization will accept and what is considered an
acceptable level of risk
• Formal processes of risk identification
• The connection between the IRM policy and the organization’s strategic
planning processes
• Responsibilities that fall under IRM and the roles to fulfill them
• The mapping of risk to internal controls
• The approach toward changing staff behaviors and resource allocation in
response to risk analysis
• The mapping of risks to performance targets and budgets
• Key indicators to monitor the effectiveness of controls
The IRM policy provides the foundation and direction for the organization’s security risk management processes and procedures, and should address all issues of infor-

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

73
mation security. It should provide direction on how the IRM team communicates
information on company risks to senior management and how to properly execute
management’s decisions on risk mitigation tasks.

The Risk Management Team
Fred is always scared of stuff. He is going to head up our risk team.
Response: Fair enough.
Each organization is different in its size, security posture, threat profile, and security
budget. One organization may have one individual responsible for IRM or a team that
works in a coordinated manner. The overall goal of the team is to ensure the company
is protected in the most cost-effective manner. This goal can be accomplished only if
the following components are in place:
• An established risk acceptance level provided by senior management
• Documented risk assessment processes and procedures
• Procedures for identifying and mitigating risks
• Appropriate resource and fund allocation from senior management
• Security-awareness training for all staff members associated with
information assets
• The ability to establish improvement (or risk mitigation) teams in specific
areas when necessary
• The mapping of legal and regulation compliancy requirements to control and
implement requirements
• The development of metrics and performance indicators so as to measure and
manage various types of risks
• The ability to identify and assess new risks as the environment and
company change
• The integration of IRM and the organization’s change control process to
ensure that changes do not introduce new vulnerabilities
Obviously, this list is a lot more than just buying a new shiny firewall and calling
the company safe.
The IRM team, in most cases, is not made up of employees with the dedicated task
of risk management. It consists of people who already have a full-time job in the company and are now tasked with something else. Thus, senior management support is
necessary so proper resource allocation can take place.
Of course, all teams need a leader, and IRM is no different. One individual should
be singled out to run this rodeo and, in larger organizations, this person should be
spending 50 to 70 percent of their time in this role. Management must dedicate funds
to making sure this person receives the necessary training and risk analysis tools to
ensure it is a successful endeavor.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

74

Risk Assessment and Analysis
I have determined that our greatest risk is this paperclip.
Response: Nice work.
A risk assessment, which is really a tool for risk management, is a method of identifying vulnerabilities and threats and assessing the possible impacts to determine where
to implement security controls. A risk assessment is carried out, and the results are analyzed. Risk analysis is used to ensure that security is cost-effective, relevant, timely, and
responsive to threats. Security can be quite complex, even for well-versed security professionals, and it is easy to apply too much security, not enough security, or the wrong
security controls, and to spend too much money in the process without attaining the
necessary objectives. Risk analysis helps companies prioritize their risks and shows
management the amount of resources that should be applied to protecting against
those risks in a sensible manner.
A risk analysis has four main goals:
• Identify assets and their value to the organization.
• Identify vulnerabilities and threats.
• Quantify the probability and business impact of these potential threats.
• Provide an economic balance between the impact of the threat and the cost
of the countermeasure.
Risk analysis provides a cost/benefit comparison, which compares the annualized
cost of controls to the potential cost of loss. A control, in most cases, should not be
implemented unless the annualized cost of loss exceeds the annualized cost of the control itself. This means that if a facility is worth $100,000, it does not make sense to
spend $150,000 trying to protect it.
It is important to figure out what you are supposed to be doing before you dig right
in and start working. Anyone who has worked on a project without a properly defined
scope can attest to the truth of this statement. Before an assessment and analysis is
started, the team must carry out project sizing to understand what assets and threats
should be evaluated. Most assessments are focused on physical security, technology
security, or personnel security. Trying to assess all of them at the same time can be quite
an undertaking.
One of the risk analysis team’s tasks is to create a report that details the asset valuations. Senior management should review and accept the list, and make them the scope
of the IRM project. If management determines at this early stage that some assets are
not important, the risk assessment team should not spend additional time or resources
evaluating those assets. During discussions with management, everyone involved must
have a firm understanding of the value of the security AIC triad—availability, integrity,
and confidentiality—and how it directly relates to business needs.
Management should outline the scope of the assessment, which most likely will be
dictated by organizational compliance requirements as well as budgetary constraints.
Many projects have run out of funds, and consequently stopped, because proper project
sizing was not conducted at the onset of the project. Don’t let this happen to you.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

75
A risk analysis helps integrate the security program objectives with the company’s
business objectives and requirements. The more the business and security objectives are
in alignment, the more successful the two will be. The analysis also helps the company
draft a proper budget for a security program and its constituent security components.
Once a company knows how much its assets are worth and the possible threats they are
exposed to, it can make intelligent decisions about how much money to spend protecting those assets.
A risk analysis must be supported and directed by senior management if it is to be
successful. Management must define the purpose and scope of the analysis, appoint a
team to carry out the assessment, and allocate the necessary time and funds to conduct
the analysis. It is essential for senior management to review the outcome of the risk assessment and analysis and to act on its findings. After all, what good is it to go through
all the trouble of a risk assessment and not react to its findings? Unfortunately, this does
happen all too often.

Risk Analysis Team
Each organization has different departments, and each department has its own functionality, resources, tasks, and quirks. For the most effective risk analysis, an organization must build a risk analysis team that includes individuals from many or all departments to ensure that all of the threats are identified and addressed. The team members
may be part of management, application programmers, IT staff, systems integrators,
and operational managers—indeed, any key personnel from key areas of the organization. This mix is necessary because if the risk analysis team comprises only individuals
from the IT department, it may not understand, for example, the types of threats the
accounting department faces with data integrity issues, or how the company as a whole
would be affected if the accounting department’s data files were wiped out by an accidental or intentional act. Or, as another example, the IT staff may not understand all
the risks the employees in the warehouse would face if a natural disaster were to hit, or
what it would mean to their productivity and how it would affect the organization
overall. If the risk analysis team is unable to include members from various departments, it should, at the very least, make sure to interview people in each department so
it fully understands and can quantify all threats.
The risk analysis team must also include people who understand the processes that
are part of their individual departments, meaning individuals who are at the right levels
of each department. This is a difficult task, since managers tend to delegate any sort of
risk analysis task to lower levels within the department. However, the people who work
at these lower levels may not have adequate knowledge and understanding of the processes that the risk analysis team may need to deal with.
When looking at risk, it’s good to keep several questions in mind. Raising these
questions helps ensure that the risk analysis team and senior management know what
is important. Team members must ask the following: What event could occur (threat
event)? What could be the potential impact (risk)? How often could it happen (frequency)? What level of confidence do we have in the answers to the first three questions
(certainty)? A lot of this information is gathered through internal surveys, interviews, or
workshops.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

76
Viewing threats with these questions in mind helps the team focus on the tasks at
hand and assists in making the decisions more accurate and relevant.

The Value of Information and Assets
If information does not have any value, then who cares about protecting it?
The value placed on information is relative to the parties involved, what work was
required to develop it, how much it costs to maintain, what damage would result if it
were lost or destroyed, what enemies would pay for it, and what liability penalties
could be endured. If a company does not know the value of the information and the
other assets it is trying to protect, it does not know how much money and time it
should spend on protecting them. If you were in charge of making sure Russia does not
know the encryption algorithms used when transmitting information to and from U.S.
spy satellites, you would use more extreme (and expensive) security measures than you
would use to protect your peanut butter and banana sandwich recipe from your nextdoor neighbor. The value of the information supports security measure decisions.
The previous examples refer to assessing the value of information and protecting it, but
this logic applies toward an organization’s facilities, systems, and resources. The value of
the company’s facilities must be assessed, along with all printers, workstations, servers,
peripheral devices, supplies, and employees. You do not know how much is in danger of
being lost if you don’t know what you have and what it is worth in the first place.

Costs That Make Up the Value
An asset can have both quantitative and qualitative measurements assigned to it, but
these measurements need to be derived. The actual value of an asset is determined by
the importance it has to the organization as a whole. The value of an asset should reflect all identifiable costs that would arise if the asset were actually impaired. If a server
cost $4,000 to purchase, this value should not be input as the value of the asset in a risk
assessment. Rather, the cost of replacing or repairing it, the loss of productivity, and the
value of any data that may be corrupted or lost must be accounted for to properly capture the amount the organization would lose if the server were to fail for one reason or
another.
The following issues should be considered when assigning values to assets:
• Cost to acquire or develop the asset
• Cost to maintain and protect the asset
• Value of the asset to owners and users
• Value of the asset to adversaries
• Price others are willing to pay for the asset
• Cost to replace the asset if lost
• Operational and production activities affected if the asset is unavailable
• Liability issues if the asset is compromised
• Usefulness and role of the asset in the organization

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

77
Understanding the value of an asset is the first step to understanding what security
mechanisms should be put in place and what funds should go toward protecting it. A
very important question is how much it could cost the company to not protect the asset.
Determining the value of assets may be useful to a company for a variety of reasons,
including the following:
• To perform effective cost/benefit analyses
• To select specific countermeasures and safeguards
• To determine the level of insurance coverage to purchase
• To understand what exactly is at risk
• To comply with legal and regulatory requirements
Assets may be tangible (computers, facilities, supplies) or intangible (reputation,
data, intellectual property). It is usually harder to quantify the values of intangible assets, which may change over time. How do you put a monetary value on a company’s
reputation? This is not always an easy question to answer, but it is important to be able
to do so.

Identifying Vulnerabilities and Threats
Okay, what should we be afraid of?
Earlier, it was stated that the definition of a risk is the probability of a threat agent
exploiting a vulnerability to cause harm to an asset and the resulting business impact.
Many types of threat agents can take advantage of several types of vulnerabilities, resulting in a variety of specific threats, as outlined in Table 2-5, which represents only a
sampling of the risks many organizations should address in their risk management
programs.
Other types of threats can arise in an environment that are much harder to identify
than those listed in Table 2-5. These other threats have to do with application and user
errors. If an application uses several complex equations to produce results, the threat
can be difficult to discover and isolate if these equations are incorrect or if the application is using inputted data incorrectly. This can result in illogical processing and cascading
errors as invalid results are passed on to another process. These types of problems can
lie within applications’ code and are very hard to identify.
User errors, intentional or accidental, are easier to identify by monitoring and auditing user activities. Audits and reviews must be conducted to discover if employees are
inputting values incorrectly into programs, misusing technology, or modifying data in
an inappropriate manner.
Once the vulnerabilities and associated threats are identified, the ramifications of
these vulnerabilities being exploited must be investigated. Risks have loss potential,
meaning what the company would lose if a threat agent actually exploited a vulnerability. The loss may be corrupted data, destruction of systems and/or the facility, unauthorized disclosure of confidential information, a reduction in employee productivity,
and so on. When performing a risk analysis, the team also must look at delayed loss
when assessing the damages that can occur. Delayed loss is secondary in nature and

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

78
Threat Agent

Can Exploit This
Vulnerability

Resulting in This Threat

Malware

Lack of antivirus software

Virus infection

Hacker

Powerful services running on a
server

Unauthorized access to
confidential information

Users

Misconfigured parameter in the
operating system

System malfunction

Fire

Lack of fire extinguishers

Facility and computer damage,
and possibly loss of life

Employee

Lack of training or standards
enforcement
Lack of auditing

Sharing mission-critical
information
Altering data inputs and outputs
from data processing applications

Contractor

Lax access control mechanisms

Stealing trade secrets

Attacker

Poorly written application
Lack of stringent firewall settings

Conducting a buffer overflow
Conducting a denial-of-service
attack

Intruder

Lack of security guard

Breaking windows and stealing
computers and devices

Table 2-5 Relationship of Threats and Vulnerabilities

takes place well after a vulnerability is exploited. Delayed loss may include damage to
the company’s reputation, loss of market share, accrued late penalties, civil suits, the
delayed collection of funds from customers, and so forth.
For example, if a company’s web servers are attacked and taken offline, the immediate damage (loss potential) could be data corruption, the man-hours necessary to place
the servers back online, and the replacement of any code or components required. The
company could lose revenue if it usually accepts orders and payments via its web site.
If it takes a full day to get the web servers fixed and back online, the company could lose
a lot more sales and profits. If it takes a full week to get the web servers fixed and back
online, the company could lose enough sales and profits to not be able to pay other
bills and expenses. This would be a delayed loss. If the company’s customers lose confidence in it because of this activity, it could lose business for months or years. This is a
more extreme case of delayed loss.
These types of issues make the process of properly quantifying losses that specific
threats could cause more complex, but they must be taken into consideration to ensure
reality is represented in this type of analysis.

Methodologies for Risk Assessment
Are there rules on how to do this risk stuff or do we just make it up as we go along?
The industry has different standardized methodologies when it comes to carrying
out risk assessments. Each of the individual methodologies has the same basic core
components (identify vulnerabilities, associate threats, calculate risk values), but each

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

79
has a specific focus. As a security professional it is your responsibility to know which is
the best approach for your organization and its needs.
NIST developed a risk methodology, which is published in their SP 800-30 document. This NIST methodology is named a “Risk Management Guide for Information
Technology Systems” and is considered a U.S. federal government standard. It is specific to IT threats and how they relate to information security risks. It lays out the following steps:
• System characterization
• Threat identification
• Vulnerability identification
• Control analysis
• Likelihood determination
• Impact analysis
• Risk determination
• Control recommendations
• Results documentation
The NIST risk management methodology is mainly focused on computer systems
and IT security issues. It does not cover larger organizational threat types, as in natural
disasters, succession planning, environmental issues, or how security risks associate to
business risks. It is a methodology that focuses on the operational components of an
enterprise, not necessarily the higher strategic level. The methodology outlines specific
risk methodology activities, as shown in Figure 2-9, with the associated input and output values.
A second type of risk assessment methodology is called FRAP, which stands for Facilitated Risk Analysis Process. The crux of this qualitative methodology is to focus only
on the systems that really need assessing to reduce costs and time obligations. It stresses prescreening activities so that the risk assessment steps are only carried out on the
item(s) that needs it the most. It is to be used to analyze one system, application, or
business process at a time. Data is gathered and threats to business operations are prioritized based upon their criticality. The risk assessment team documents the controls
that need to be put into place to reduce the identified risks along with action plans for
control implementation efforts.
This methodology does not support the idea of calculating exploitation probability
numbers or annual loss expectancy values. The criticalities of the risks are determined
by the team members’ experience. The author of this methodology (Thomas Peltier)
believes that trying to use mathematical formulas for the calculation of risk is too confusing and time consuming. The goal is to keep the scope of the assessment small and
the assessment processes simple to allow for efficiency and cost effectiveness.
Another methodology called OCTAVE (Operationally Critical Threat, Asset, and
Vulnerability Evaluation) was created by Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute. It is a methodology that is intended to be used in situations where

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

80
Input

Risk Assessment Activities

• Hardware
• Software
• System interfaces
• Data and information
• People
• System mission

Step 1.
System characterization

• History of system attack
• Data from intelligence
agencies, NIPC, OIG,
FedCIRC, mass media
• Reports from prior
risk assessments
• Any audit comments
• Security requirements
• Security test results
• Current controls
• Planned controls
• Threat-source motivation
• Threat capacity
• Nature of vulnerability
• Current controls
• Mission impact analysis
• Asset criticality assessment
• Data criticality
• Data sensitivity
• Likelihood of threat
exploitation
• Magnitude of impact
• Adequacy of planned or
current controls

Step 2.
Threat identification

Output
• System boundary
• System functions
• System and data
criticality
• System and data
• Sensitivity

Threat statement

Step 3.
Vulnerability identification

List of potential
vulnerabilities

Step 4.
Control analysis

List of current and
planned controls

Step 5.
Likelihood determination

Likelihood rating

Step 6. Impact analysis
• Loss of integrity
• Loss of availability
• Loss of confidentiality

Impact rating

Step 7.
Risk determination

Risks and
associated risk levels

Step 8.
Control recommendations

Recommended
controls

Step 9.
Results documentation

Risk assessment
report

Figure 2-9 Risk management steps in NIST SP 800-30

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

81
people manage and direct the risk evaluation for information security within their
company. This places the people that work inside the organization in the power positions as being able to make the decisions regarding what is the best approach for evaluating the security of their organization. This relies on the idea that the people working
in these environments best understand what is needed and what kind of risks they are
facing. The individuals who make up the risk assessment team go through rounds of
facilitated workshops. The facilitator helps the team members understand the risk
methodology and how to apply it to the vulnerabilities and threats identified within
their specific business units. It stresses a self-directed team approach. The scope of an
OCTAVE assessment is usually very wide compared to the more focused approach of
FRAP. Where FRAP would be used to assess a system or application, OCTAVE would be
used to assess all systems, applications, and business processes within the organization.
While NIST, FRAP, and OCTAVE methodologies focus on IT security threats and
information security risks, AS/NZS 4360 takes a much broader approach to risk management. This Australian and New Zealand methodology can be used to understand a
company’s financial, capital, human safety, and business decisions risks. Although it
can be used to analyze security risks, it was not created specifically for this purpose. This
risk methodology is more focused on the health of a company from a business point of
view, not security.
If we need a risk methodology that is to be integrated into our security program, we
can use one that was previously mentioned within the ISO/IEC 27000 Series section.
ISO/IEC 27005 is an international standard for how risk management should be carried out in the framework of an information security management system (ISMS). So
where the NIST risk methodology is mainly IT and operational focused, this methodology deals with IT and the softer security issues (documentation, personnel security,
training, etc.) This methodology is to be integrated into an organizational security program that addresses all of the security threats an organization could be faced with.
NOTE In-depth information on some of these various risk methodologies
can be found in the article “Understanding Standards for Risk Management
and Compliance” at http://www.logicalsecurity.com/resources/resources_
articles.html.
Failure Modes and Effect Analysis (FMEA) is a method for determining functions,
identifying functional failures, and assessing the causes of failure and their failure effects through a structured process. It is commonly used in product development and
operational environments. The goal is to identify where something is most likely going
to break and either fix the flaws that could cause this issue or implement controls to
reduce the impact of the break. For example, you might choose to carry out an FMEA
on your organization’s network to identify single points of failure. These single points
of failure represent vulnerabilities that could directly affect the productivity of the network as a whole. You would use this structured approach to identify these issues (vulnerabilities), assess their criticality (risk), and identify the necessary controls that
should be put into place (reduce risk).

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

82
The FMEA methodology uses failure modes (how something can break or fail) and
effects analysis (impact of that break or failure). The application of this process to a
chronic failure enables the determination of where exactly the failure is most likely to
occur. Think of it as being able to look into the future and locate areas that have the
potential for failure and then applying corrective measures to them before they do become actual liabilities.
By following a specific order of steps, the best results can be maximized for an FMEA:
1. Start with a block diagram of a system or control.
2. Consider what happens if each block of the diagram fails.
3. Draw up a table in which failures are paired with their effects and an
evaluation of the effects.
4. Correct the design of the system, and adjust the table until the system is not
known to have unacceptable problems.
5. Have several engineers review the Failure Modes and Effect Analysis.
Table 2-6 is an example of how an FMEA can be carried out and documented. Although most companies will not have the resources to do this level of detailed work for
every system and control, it can be carried out on critical functions and systems that can
drastically affect the company.
Prepared by:
Approved by:
Date:
Revision:
Failure Effect on . . .
Item
Identification

Function

Failure
Mode

Failure
Cause

Component
or Functional
Assembly

Next
Higher
Assembly

System

Failure
Detection
Method

IPS application
content filter

Inline
perimeter
protection

Fails to
close

Traffic
overload

Single point of
failure
Denial of
service

IPS blocks
ingress traffic
stream

IPS is
brought
down

Health check
status sent
to console
and e-mail
to security
administrator

Central
antivirus
signature
update engine

Push
updated
signatures
to all
servers and
workstations

Fails to
provide
adequate,
timely
protection
against
malware

Central
server
goes
down

Individual
node’s
antivirus
software is
not updated

Network is
infected with
malware

Central
server can
be infected
and/or
infect other
systems

Heartbeat
status check
sent to central
console,
and e-mail
to network
administrator

Fire
suppression
water pipes

Suppress fire
in building 1
in 5 zones

Fails to
close

Water
in pipes
freezes

None

Building 1
has no
suppression
agent
available

Fire
suppression
system
pipes break

Suppression
sensors tied
directly into
fire system
central
console

Etc.

Table 2-6

How an FMEA Can Be Carried Out and Documented

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

83
FMEA was first developed for systems engineering. Its purpose is to examine the
potential failures in products and the processes involved with them. This approach
proved to be successful and has been more recently adapted for use in evaluating risk
management priorities and mitigating known threat vulnerabilities.
FMEA is used in assurance risk management because of the level of detail, variables,
and complexity that continues to rise as corporations understand risk at more granular
levels. This methodical way of identifying potential pitfalls is coming into play more as
the need for risk awareness—down to the tactical and operational levels—continues to
expand.
While FMEA is most useful as a survey method to identify major failure modes in a
given system, the method is not as useful in discovering complex failure modes that
may be involved in multiple systems or subsystems. A fault tree analysis usually proves
to be a more useful approach to identifying failures that can take place within more
complex environments and systems. Fault tree analysis follows this general process.
First, an undesired effect is taken as the root or top event of a tree of logic. Then, each
situation that has the potential to cause that effect is added to the tree as a series of
logic expressions. Fault trees are then labeled with actual numbers pertaining to failure
probabilities. This is typically done by using computer programs that can calculate the
failure probabilities from a fault tree.
Figure 2-10 shows a simplistic fault tree and the different logic symbols used to
represent what must take place for a specific fault event to occur.
When setting up the tree, you must accurately list all the threats or faults that can
occur within a system. The branches of the tree can be divided into general categories,
such as physical threats, networks threats, software threats, Internet threats, and component failure threats. Then, once all possible general categories are in place, you can trim
them and effectively prune the branches from the tree that won’t apply to the system in
question. In general, if a system is not connected to the Internet by any means, remove
that general branch from the tree.

Figure 2-10 Fault tree and logic components

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

84
Some of the most common software failure events that can be explored through a
fault tree analysis are the following:
• False alarms
• Insufficient error handling
• Sequencing or order
• Incorrect timing outputs
• Valid but not expected outputs
Of course, because of the complexity of software and heterogeneous environments,
this is a very small list.
Just in case you do not have enough risk assessment methodologies to choose from,
you can also look at CRAMM (Central Computing and Telecommunications Agency
Risk Analysis and Management Method), which was created by the United Kingdom,
and its automated tools are sold by Siemens. It works in three distinct stages: define
objectives, assess risks, and identify countermeasures. It is really not fair to call it a
unique methodology, because it follows the basic structure of any risk methodology. It
just has everything (questionnaires, asset dependency modeling, assessment formulas,
compliancy reporting) in automated tool format.
Similar to the “Security Frameworks” section that covered things such as ISO/IEC
27000, CobiT, COSO, Zachman, SABSA, ITIL, and Six Sigma, this section on risk methodologies could seem like another list of confusing standards and guidelines. Remember that the methodologies have a lot of overlapping similarities because each one has
the specific goal of identifying things that could hurt the organization (vulnerabilities
and threats) so that those things could be addressed (risk reduced). What make these
methodologies different from each other are their unique approaches and focuses. If
you need to deploy an organization-wide risk management program and integrate it
into your security program, you should follow the ISO/IEC 27005 or OCTAVE methods.
If you need to focus just on IT security risks during your assessment, you can follow
NIST 800-30. If you have a limited budget and need to carry out a focused assessment
on an individual system or process, the Facilitated Risk Analysis Process can be followed. If you really want to dig into the details of how a security flaw within a specific
system could cause negative ramifications, you could use Failure Modes and Effect
Analysis or fault tree analysis. If you need to understand your company’s business risks,
then you can follow the AS/NZS 4360 approach.
So up to this point, we have accomplished the following items:
• Developed a risk management policy
• Developed a risk management team
• Identified company assets to be assessed
• Calculated the value of each asset
• Identified the vulnerabilities and threats that can affect the identified assets
• Chose a risk assessment methodology that best fits our needs

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

85
Key Terms
• NIST 800-30 Risk Management Guide for Information Technology
Systems A U.S. federal standard that is focused on IT risks.
• Facilitated Risk Analysis Process (FRAP) A focused, qualitative
approach that carries out prescreening to save time and money.
• Operationally Critical Threat, Asset, and Vulnerability Evaluation
(OCTAVE) Team-oriented approach that assesses organizational and
IT risks through facilitated workshops.
• AS/NZS 4360 Australia and New Zealand business risk management
assessment approach.
• ISO/IEC 27005 International standard for the implementation of a
risk management program that integrates into an information security
management system (ISMS).
• Failure Modes and Effect Analysis Approach that dissects a component
into its basic functions to identify flaws and those flaws’ effects.
• Fault tree analysis Approach to map specific flaws to root causes in
complex systems.
• CRAMM Central Computing and Telecommunications Agency Risk
Analysis and Management Method.

The next thing we need to figure out is if our risk analysis approach should be quantitative or qualitative in nature, which we will cover in the following section.
NOTE A risk assessment is used to gather data. A risk analysis examines the
gathered data to produce results that can be acted upon.

Risk Analysis Approaches
One consultant said this threat could cost us $150,000, another consultant said it was red, and
the audit team assigned it a four. Should we be concerned or not?
The two approaches to risk analysis are quantitative and qualitative. A quantitative
risk analysis is used to assign monetary and numeric values to all elements of the risk
analysis process. Each element within the analysis (asset value, threat frequency, severity of vulnerability, impact damage, safeguard costs, safeguard effectiveness, uncertainty, and probability items) is quantified and entered into equations to determine total
and residual risks. It is more of a scientific or mathematical approach to risk analysis
compared to qualitative. A qualitative risk analysis uses a “softer” approach to the data
elements of a risk analysis. It does not quantify that data, which means that it does not
assign numeric values to the data so that they can be used in equations. As an example,

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

86
the results of a quantitative risk analysis could be that the organization is at risk of losing $100,000 if a buffer overflow was exploited on a web server, $25,000 if a database
was compromised, and $10,000 if a file server was compromised. A qualitative risk
analysis would not present these findings in monetary values, but would assign ratings
to the risks, as in Red, Yellow, and Green.
A quantitative analysis uses risk calculations that attempt to predict the level of
monetary losses and the probability for each type of threat. Qualitative analysis does
not use calculations. Instead, it is more opinion- and scenario-based and uses a rating
system to relay the risk criticality levels.
Quantitative and qualitative approaches have their own pros and cons, and each
applies more appropriately to some situations than others. Company management
and the risk analysis team, and the tools they decide to use, will determine which approach is best.
In the following sections we will dig into the depths of quantitative analysis and
then revisit the qualitative approach. We will then compare and contrast their attributes.

Automated Risk Analysis Methods
Collecting all the necessary data that needs to be plugged into risk analysis equations
and properly interpreting the results can be overwhelming if done manually. Several
automated risk analysis tools on the market can make this task much less painful and,
hopefully, more accurate. The gathered data can be reused, greatly reducing the time
required to perform subsequent analyses. The risk analysis team can also print reports
and comprehensive graphs to present to management.
NOTE Remember that vulnerability assessments are different from risk
assessments.Vulnerability assessments just find the vulnerabilities (the holes).
A risk assessment calculates the probability of the vulnerabilities being
exploited and the associated business impact.
The objective of these tools is to reduce the manual effort of these tasks, perform
calculations quickly, estimate future expected losses, and determine the effectiveness
and benefits of the security countermeasures chosen. Most automatic risk analysis
products port information into a database and run several types of scenarios with different parameters to give a panoramic view of what the outcome will be if different
threats come to bear. For example, after such a tool has all the necessary information
inputted, it can be rerun several times with different parameters to compute the potential outcome if a large fire were to take place; the potential losses if a virus were to damage 40 percent of the data on the main file server; how much the company would lose
if an attacker were to steal all the customer credit card information held in three databases; and so on. Running through the different risk possibilities gives a company a
more detailed understanding of which risks are more critical than others, and thus
which ones to address first.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

87
Steps of a Quantitative Risk Analysis
If we follow along with our previous sections in this chapter, we have already carried
out our risk assessment, which is the process of gathering data for a risk analysis. We
have identified the assets that are to be assessed, associated a value to each asset, and
identified the vulnerabilities and threats that could affect these assets. Now we need to
carry out the risk analysis portion, which means that we need to figure out how to interpret all the data that was gathered during the assessment.
If we choose to carry out a quantitative analysis, then we are going to use mathematical equations for our data interpretation process. The most commonly used equations used for this purpose are the single loss expectancy (SLE) and the annual loss
expectancy (ALE).
The SLE is a dollar amount that is assigned to a single event that represents the
company’s potential loss amount if a specific threat were to take place. The equation is
laid out as follows:
Asset Value × Exposure Factor (EF) = SLE
The exposure factor (EF) represents the percentage of loss a realized threat could
have on a certain asset. For example, if a data warehouse has the asset value of $150,000,
it can be estimated that if a fire were to occur, 25 percent of the warehouse would be
damaged, in which case the SLE would be $37,500:
Asset Value ($150,000) × Exposure Factor (25%) = $37,500
This tells us that the company can potentially lose $37,500 if a fire took place. But
we need to know what our annual potential loss is, since we develop and use our security budgets on an annual basis. This is where the ALE equation comes into play. The
ALE equation is as follows:
SLE × Annualized Rate of Occurrence (ARO) = ALE
The annualized rate of occurrence (ARO) is the value that represents the estimated
frequency of a specific threat taking place within a 12-month timeframe. The range can
be from 0.0 (never) to 1.0 (once a year) to greater than 1 (several times a year) and
anywhere in between. For example, if the probability of a fire taking place and damaging our data warehouse is once every ten years, the ARO value is 0.1.
So, if a fire taking place within a company’s data warehouse facility can cause $37,500
in damages, and the frequency (or ARO) of a fire taking place has an ARO value of 0.1
(indicating once in ten years), then the ALE value is $3,750 ($37,500 × 0.1 = $3,750).
The ALE value tells the company that if it wants to put in controls to protect the asset (warehouse) from this threat (fire), it can sensibly spend $3,750 or less per year to
provide the necessary level of protection. Knowing the real possibility of a threat and
how much damage, in monetary terms, the threat can cause is important in determining how much should be spent to try and protect against that threat in the first place. It
would not make good business sense for the company to spend more than $3,750 per
year to protect itself from this threat.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

88
Asset

Threat

Single Loss
Expectancy
(SLE)

Annualized Rate
of Occurrence
(ARO)

Annualized Loss
Expectancy
(ALE)

Facility

Fire

$230,000

0.1

$23,000

Trade secret

Stolen

$40,000

0.01

$400

File server

Failed

$11,500

0.1

$1,150

Data

Virus

$6,500

1.0

$6,500

Customer
credit card info

Stolen

$300,000

3.0

$900,000

Table 2-7 Breaking Down How SLE and ALE Values Are Used

Now that we have all these numbers, what do we do with them? Let’s look at the
example in Table 2-7, which shows the outcome of a quantitative risk analysis. With
this data, the company can make intelligent decisions on what threats must be addressed first because of the severity of the threat, the likelihood of it happening, and
how much could be lost if the threat were realized. The company now also knows how
much money it should spend to protect against each threat. This will result in good
business decisions, instead of just buying protection here and there without a clear
understanding of the big picture. Because the company has a risk of losing up to $6,500
if data is corrupted by virus infiltration, up to this amount of funds can be earmarked
toward providing antivirus software and methods to ensure that a virus attack will not
happen.
When carrying out a quantitative analysis, some people mistakenly think that the
process is purely objective and scientific because data is being presented in numeric
values. But a purely quantitative analysis is hard to achieve because there is still some
subjectivity when it comes to the data. How do we know that a fire will only take place
once every ten years? How do we know that the damage from a fire will be 25 percent
of the value of the asset? We don’t know these values exactly, but instead of just pulling
them out of thin air they should be based upon historical data and industry experience.
In quantitative risk analysis, we can do our best to provide all the correct information,
and by doing so we will come close to the risk values, but we cannot predict the future
and how much the future will cost us or the company.

Uncertainty
I just made all these numbers up.
Response: Well, they look impressive.
In risk analysis, uncertainty refers to the degree to which you lack confidence
in an estimate. This is expressed as a percentage, from 0 to 100 percent. If you
have a 30 percent confidence level in something, then it could be said you have a
70 percent uncertainty level. Capturing the degree of uncertainty when carrying
out a risk analysis is important, because it indicates the level of confidence the
team and management should have in the resulting figures.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

89
Results of a Quantitative Risk Analysis
The risk analysis team should have clearly defined goals. The following is a short list of
what generally is expected from the results of a risk analysis:
• Monetary values assigned to assets
• Comprehensive list of all possible and significant threats
• Probability of the occurrence rate of each threat
• Loss potential the company can endure per threat in a 12-month time span
• Recommended controls
Although this list looks short, there is usually an incredible amount of detail under
each bullet item. This report will be presented to senior management, which will be concerned with possible monetary losses and the necessary costs to mitigate these risks. Although the reports should be as detailed as possible, there should be executive abstracts
so senior management can quickly understand the overall findings of the analysis.

Qualitative Risk Analysis
I have a feeling that we are secure.
Response: Great! Let’s all go home.
Another method of risk analysis is qualitative, which does not assign numbers and
monetary values to components and losses. Instead, qualitative methods walk through
different scenarios of risk possibilities and rank the seriousness of the threats and the
validity of the different possible countermeasures based on opinions. (A wide sweeping
analysis can include hundreds of scenarios.) Qualitative analysis techniques include
judgment, best practices, intuition, and experience. Examples of qualitative techniques
to gather data are Delphi, brainstorming, storyboarding, focus groups, surveys, questionnaires, checklists, one-on-one meetings, and interviews. The risk analysis team will
determine the best technique for the threats that need to be assessed, as well as the
culture of the company and individuals involved with the analysis.
The team that is performing the risk analysis gathers personnel who have experience and education on the threats being evaluated. When this group is presented with
a scenario that describes threats and loss potential, each member responds with their
gut feeling and experience on the likelihood of the threat and the extent of damage that
may result.
A scenario of each identified vulnerability and how it would be exploited is explored. The “expert” in the group, who is most familiar with this type of threat, should
review the scenario to ensure it reflects how an actual threat would be carried out. Safeguards that would diminish the damage of this threat are then evaluated, and the scenario is played out for each safeguard. The exposure possibility and loss possibility can
be ranked as high, medium, or low on a scale of 1 to 5 or 1 to 10. A common qualitative
risk matrix is shown in Figure 2-11. Once the selected personnel rank the possibility of
a threat happening, the loss potential, and the advantages of each safeguard, this information is compiled into a report and presented to management to help it make better
decisions on how best to implement safeguards into the environment. The benefits of

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

90

Figure 2-11 Qualitative risk matrix. Likelihood versus consequences (impact).

this type of analysis are that communication must happen among team members to
rank the risks, safeguard strengths, and identify weaknesses, and the people who know
these subjects the best provide their opinions to management.
Let’s look at a simple example of a qualitative risk analysis.
The risk analysis team presents a scenario explaining the threat of a hacker accessing
confidential information held on the five file servers within the company. The risk
analysis team then distributes the scenario in a written format to a team of five people
(the IT manager, database administrator, application programmer, system operator,
and operational manager), who are also given a sheet to rank the threat’s severity, loss
potential, and each safeguard’s effectiveness, with a rating of 1 to 5, 1 being the least
severe, effective, or probable. Table 2-8 shows the results.
Threat = Hacker
Accessing
Confidential
Information

Severity
of Threat

Probability
of Threat
Taking
Place

Potential
Loss
to the
Company

Effectiveness
of Firewall

Effectiveness
of Intrusion
Detection
System

Effectiveness
of Honeypot

IT manager

4

2

4

4

3

2

Database
administrator

4

4

4

3

4

1

Application
programmer

2

3

3

4

2

1

System operator

3

4

3

4

2

1

Operational
manager

5

4

4

4

4

2

Results

3.6

3.4

3.6

3.8

3

1.4

Table 2-8 Example of a Qualitative Analysis

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

91
This data is compiled and inserted into a report and presented to management.
When management is presented with this information, it will see that its staff (or a
chosen set) feels that purchasing a firewall will protect the company from this threat
more than purchasing an intrusion detection system or setting up a honeypot system.
This is the result of looking at only one threat, and management will view the severity, probability, and loss potential of each threat so it knows which threats cause the
greatest risk and should be addressed first.

Quantitative vs. Qualitative
So which method should we use?
Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, some of which are outlined in
Table 2-9 for purposes of comparison.
The risk analysis team, management, risk analysis tools, and culture of the company
will dictate which approach—quantitative or qualitative—should be used. The goal of
either method is to estimate a company’s real risk and to rank the severity of the threats
so the correct countermeasures can be put into place within a practical budget.
Table 2-9 refers to some of the positive aspects of the qualitative and quantitative
approaches. However, not everything is always easy. In deciding to use either a qualitative or quantitative approach, the following points might need to be considered.

Qualitative Cons
• The assessments and results are subjective and opinion-based.
• Eliminates the opportunity to create a dollar value for cost/benefit discussions.
• Hard to develop a security budget from the results because monetary values
are not used.
• Standards are not available. Each vendor has its own way of interpreting the
processes and their results.

The Delphi Technique
The oracle Delphi told me that everyone agrees with me.
Response: Okay, let’s do this again—anonymously.
The Delphi technique is a group decision method used to ensure that each
member gives an honest opinion of what he or she thinks the result of a particular threat will be. This avoids a group of individuals feeling pressured to go along
with others’ thought processes and enables them to participate in an independent and anonymous way. Each member of the group provides his or her opinion
of a certain threat and turns it in to the team that is performing the analysis. The
results are compiled and distributed to the group members, who then write down
their comments anonymously and return them to the analysis group. The comments are compiled and redistributed for more comments until a consensus is
formed. This method is used to obtain an agreement on cost, loss values, and
probabilities of occurrence without individuals having to agree verbally.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

92
Attribute

Quantitative

Requires no calculations
Requires more complex calculations

X
X

Involves high degree of guesswork

X

Provides general areas and indications of risk

X

Is easier to automate and evaluate

X

Used in risk management performance tracking

X

Allows for cost/benefit analysis

X

Uses independently verifiable and objective metrics

X

Provides the opinions of the individuals who know
the processes best
Shows clear-cut losses that can be accrued within
one year’s time

Qualitative

X
X

Table 2-9 Quantitative versus Qualitative Characteristics

Quantitative Cons
• Calculations can be complex. Can management understand how these values
were derived?
• Without automated tools, this process is extremely laborious.
• More preliminary work is needed to gather detailed information about the
environment.
• Standards are not available. Each vendor has its own way of interpreting the
processes and their results.
NOTE Since a purely quantitative assessment is close to impossible and a
purely qualitative process does not provide enough statistical data for financial
decisions, these two risk analysis approaches can be used in a hybrid approach.
Quantitative evaluation can be used for tangible assets (monetary values), and
a qualitative assessment can be used for intangible assets (priority values).

Protection Mechanisms
Okay, so we know we are at risk, and we know the probability of it happening. Now, what do
we do?
Response: Run.
The next step is to identify the current security mechanisms and evaluate their effectiveness.
Because a company has such a wide range of threats (not just computer viruses and
attackers), each threat type must be addressed and planned for individually. Access
control mechanisms used as security safeguards are discussed in Chapter 3. Software

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

93
applications and data malfunction considerations are covered in Chapters 4 and 10.
Site location, fire protection, site construction, power loss, and equipment malfunctions are examined in detail in Chapter 5. Telecommunication and networking issues
are analyzed and presented in Chapter 6. Business continuity and disaster recovery
concepts are addressed in Chapter 8. All of these subjects have their own associated
risks and planning requirements.
This section addresses identifying and choosing the right countermeasures for computer systems. It gives the best attributes to look for and the different cost scenarios to
investigate when comparing different types of countermeasures. The end product of the
analysis of choices should demonstrate why the selected control is the most advantageous to the company.

Control Selection
A security control must make good business sense, meaning it is cost-effective (its benefit outweighs its cost). This requires another type of analysis: a cost/benefit analysis. A
commonly used cost/benefit calculation for a given safeguard (control) is:
(ALE before implementing safeguard) – (ALE after implementing safeguard) –
(annual cost of safeguard) = value of safeguard to the company
For example, if the ALE of the threat of a hacker bringing down a web server is
$12,000 prior to implementing the suggested safeguard, and the ALE is $3,000 after
implementing the safeguard, while the annual cost of maintenance and operation of the
safeguard is $650, then the value of this safeguard to the company is $8,350 each year.
The cost of a countermeasure is more than just the amount filled out on the purchase order. The following items should be considered and evaluated when deriving
the full cost of a countermeasure:
• Product costs
• Design/planning costs
• Implementation costs
• Environment modifications
• Compatibility with other countermeasures
• Maintenance requirements
• Testing requirements
• Repair, replacement, or update costs
• Operating and support costs
• Effects on productivity
• Subscription costs
• Extra man-hours for monitoring and responding to alerts
• Beer for the headaches that this new tool will bring about

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

94
Many companies have gone through the pain of purchasing new security products
without understanding that they will need the staff to maintain those products. Although tools automate tasks, many companies were not even carrying out these tasks
before, so they do not save on man-hours, but many times require more hours. For
example, Company A decides that to protect many of its resources, purchasing an IDS
is warranted. So, the company pays $5,500 for an IDS. Is that the total cost? Nope. This
software should be tested in an environment that is segmented from the production
environment to uncover any unexpected activity. After this testing is complete and the
security group feels it is safe to insert the IDS into its production environment, the security group must install the monitoring management software, install the sensors, and
properly direct the communication paths from the sensors to the management console.
The security group may also need to reconfigure the routers to redirect traffic flow, and
it definitely needs to ensure that users cannot access the IDS management console. Finally, the security group should configure a database to hold all attack signatures, and
then run simulations.
Costs associated with an IDS alert response should most definitely be considered.
Now that Company A has an IDS in place, security administrators may need additional
alerting equipment such as smart phones. And then there are the time costs associated
with a response to an IDS event.
Anyone who has worked in an IT group knows that some adverse reaction almost
always takes place in this type of scenario. Network performance can take an unacceptable hit after installing a product if it is an inline or proactive product. Users may no
longer be able to access the Unix server for some mysterious reason. The IDS vendor
may not have explained that two more service patches are necessary for the whole thing
to work correctly. Staff time will need to be allocated for training and to respond to all
of the positive and false-positive alerts the new IDS sends out.
So, for example, the cost of this countermeasure could be $5,500 for the product;
$2,500 for training; $3,400 for the lab and testing time; $2,600 for the loss in user productivity once the product is introduced into production; and $4,000 in labor for router reconfiguration, product installation, troubleshooting, and installation of the two
service patches. The real cost of this countermeasure is $18,000. If our total potential
loss was calculated at $9,000, we went over budget by 100 percent when applying this
countermeasure for the identified risk. Some of these costs may be hard or impossible
to identify before they are incurred, but an experienced risk analyst would account for
many of these possibilities.
Functionality and Effectiveness of Countermeasures
The countermeasure doesn’t work, but it has a fun interface.
Response: Good enough.
The risk analysis team must evaluate the safeguard’s functionality and effectiveness.
When selecting a safeguard, some attributes are more favorable than others. Table 2-10
lists and describes attributes that should be considered before purchasing and committing to a security protection mechanism.
Safeguards can provide deterrence attributes if they are highly visible. This tells potential evildoers that adequate protection is in place and that they should move on to
an easier target. Although the safeguard may be highly visible, attackers should not be

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

95
able to discover the way it works, thus enabling them to attempt to modify the safeguard, or know how to get around the protection mechanism. If users know how to
disable the antivirus program that is taking up CPU cycles or know how to bypass a
proxy server to get to the Internet without restrictions, they will do so.
Characteristic

Description

Modular

It can be installed or removed from an environment without
adversely affecting other mechanisms.

Provides uniform protection

A security level is applied to all mechanisms it is designed to
protect in a standardized method.

Provides override functionality

An administrator can override the restriction if necessary.

Defaults to least privilege

When installed, it defaults to a lack of permissions and rights
instead of installing with everyone having full control.

Independent of safeguards and
the asset it is protecting

The safeguard can be used to protect different assets, and
different assets can be protected by different safeguards.

Flexibility and security

The more security the safeguard provides, the better. This
functionality should come with flexibility, which enables you to
choose different functions instead of all or none.

User interaction

Does not panic users.

Clear distinction between user
and administrator

A user should have fewer permissions when it comes to
configuring or disabling the protection mechanism.

Minimum human intervention

When humans have to configure or modify controls, this
opens the door to errors. The safeguard should require the
least possible amount of input from humans.

Asset protection

Asset is still protected even if countermeasure needs to
be reset.

Easily upgraded

Software continues to evolve, and updates should be able to
happen painlessly.

Auditing functionality

There should be a mechanism that is part of the safeguard
that provides minimum and/or verbose auditing.

Minimizes dependence on
other components

The safeguard should be flexible and not have strict
requirements about the environment into which it will
be installed.

Easily usable, acceptable, and
tolerated by personnel

If the safeguards provide barriers to productivity or add extra
steps to simple tasks, users will not tolerate it.

Must produce output in usable
and understandable format

Important information should be presented in a format easy
for humans to understand and use for trend analysis.

Must be able to reset safeguard

The mechanism should be able to be reset and returned
to original configurations and settings without affecting the
system or asset it is protecting.

Testable

The safeguard should be able to be tested in different
environments under different situations.

Table 2-10 Characteristics to Seek When Obtaining Safeguards

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

96
Characteristic

Description

Does not introduce other
compromises

The safeguard should not provide any covert channels or
back doors.

System and user performance

System and user performance should not be greatly affected.

Universal application

The safeguard can be implemented across the environment
and does not require many, if any, exceptions.

Proper alerting

Thresholds should be able to be set as to when to alert
personnel of a security breach, and this type of alert should be
acceptable.

Does not affect assets

The assets in the environment should not be adversely
affected by the safeguard.

Table 2-10 Characteristics to Seek When Obtaining Safeguards (continued)

Putting It Together
To perform a risk analysis, a company first decides what assets must be protected and
to what extent. It also indicates the amount of money that can go toward protecting
specific assets. Next, it must evaluate the functionality of the available safeguards and
determine which ones would be most beneficial for the environment. Finally, the company needs to appraise and compare the costs of the safeguards. These steps and the
resulting information enable management to make the most intelligent and informed
decisions about selecting and purchasing countermeasures.

Total Risk vs. Residual Risk
The reason a company implements countermeasures is to reduce its overall risk to an
acceptable level. As stated earlier, no system or environment is 100 percent secure,
which means there is always some risk left over to deal with. This is called residual risk.

We Are Never Done
Only by reassessing the risks on a periodic basis can a statement of safeguard
performance be trusted. If the risk has not changed, and the safeguards implemented are functioning in good order, then it can be said that the risk is being
properly mitigated. Regular IRM monitoring will support the information security risk ratings.
Vulnerability analysis and continued asset identification and valuation are
also important tasks of risk management monitoring and performance. The cycle
of continued risk analysis is a very important part of determining whether the
safeguard controls that have been put in place are appropriate and necessary
to safeguard the assets and environment.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

97
Residual risk is different from total risk, which is the risk a company faces if it
chooses not to implement any type of safeguard. A company may choose to take on
total risk if the cost/benefit analysis results indicate this is the best course of action. For
example, if there is a small likelihood that a company’s web servers can be compromised, and the necessary safeguards to provide a higher level of protection cost more
than the potential loss in the first place, the company will choose not to implement the
safeguard, choosing to deal with the total risk.
There is an important difference between total risk and residual risk and which type
of risk a company is willing to accept. The following are conceptual formulas:
threats × vulnerability × asset value = total risk
(threats × vulnerability × asset value) × controls gap = residual risk
You may also see these concepts illustrated as the following:
total risk – countermeasures = residual risk
NOTE The previous formulas are not constructs you can actually plug
numbers into. They are instead used to illustrate the relation of the different
items that make up risk in a conceptual manner. This means no multiplication
or mathematical functions actually take place. It is a means of understanding
what items are involved when defining either total or residual risk.
During a risk assessment, the threats and vulnerabilities are identified. The possibility
of a vulnerability being exploited is multiplied by the value of the assets being assessed,
which results in the total risk. Once the controls gap (protection the control cannot provide) is factored in, the result is the residual risk. Implementing countermeasures is a way
of mitigating risks. Because no company can remove all threats, there will always be some
residual risk. The question is what level of risk the company is willing to accept.

Handling Risk
Now that we know about the risk, what do we do with it?
Response: Hide it behind that plant.
Once a company knows the amount of total and residual risk it is faced with, it
must decide how to handle it. Risk can be dealt with in four basic ways: transfer it,
avoid it, reduce it, or accept it.
Many types of insurance are available to companies to protect their assets. If a company decides the total risk is too high to gamble with, it can purchase insurance, which
would transfer the risk to the insurance company.
If a company decides to terminate the activity that is introducing the risk, this is
known as risk avoidance. For example, if a company allows employees to use instant
messaging (IM), there are many risks surrounding this technology. The company could
decide not to allow any IM activity by their users because there is not a strong enough
business need for its continued use. Discontinuing this service is an example of risk
avoidance.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

98
Another approach is risk mitigation, where the risk is reduced to a level considered
acceptable enough to continue conducting business. The implementation of firewalls,
training, and intrusion/detection protection systems or other control types represent
types of risk mitigation efforts.
The last approach is to accept the risk, which means the company understands the
level of risk it is faced with, as well as the potential cost of damage, and decides to just
live with it and not implement the countermeasure. Many companies will accept risk
when the cost/benefit ratio indicates that the cost of the countermeasure outweighs the
potential loss value.
A crucial issue with risk acceptance is understanding why this is the best approach
for a specific situation. Unfortunately, today many people in organizations are accepting risk and not understanding fully what they are accepting. This usually has to do
with the relative newness of risk management in the security field and the lack of education and experience in those personnel who make risk decisions. When business
managers are charged with the responsibility of dealing with risk in their department,
most of the time they will accept whatever risk is put in front of them because their real
goals pertain to getting a project finished and out the door. They don’t want to be
bogged down by this silly and irritating security stuff.
Risk acceptance should be based on several factors. For example, is the potential
loss lower than the countermeasure? Can the organization deal with the “pain” that
will come with accepting this risk? This second consideration is not purely a cost decision, but may entail noncost issues surrounding the decision. For example, if we accept
this risk, we must add three more steps in our production process. Does that make
sense for us? Or if we accept this risk, more security incidents may arise from it, and are
we prepared to handle those?
The individual or group accepting risk must also understand the potential visibility
of this decision. Let’s say it has been determined that the company does not need to
actually protect customers’ first names, but it does have to protect other items like Social Security numbers, account numbers, and so on. So these current activities are in
compliance with the regulations and laws, but what if your customers find out you are
not properly protecting their names and they associate such things with identity fraud
because of their lack of education on the matter? The company may not be able to
handle this potential reputation hit, even if it is doing all it is supposed to be doing.
Perceptions of a company’s customer base are not always rooted in fact, but the possibility that customers will move their business to another company is a potential fact
your company must comprehend.
Figure 2-12 shows how a risk management program can be set up, which ties together all the concepts covered in this section.

Key Terms
• Quantitative risk analysis Assigning monetary and numeric values to
all the data elements of a risk assessment.
• Qualitative risk analysis Opinion-based method of analyzing risk
with the use of scenarios and ratings.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

99

Figure 2-12 How a risk management program can be set up

• Single loss expectancy One instance of an expected loss if a specific
vulnerability is exploited and how it affects a single asset. Asset Value ×
Exposure Factor = SLE.
• Annualized loss expectancy Annual expected loss if a specific
vulnerability is exploited and how it affects a single asset.
SLE × ARO = ALE.
• Uncertainty analysis Assigning confidence level values to data elements.
• Delphi method Data collection method that happens in an
anonymous fashion.
• Cost/benefit analysis Calculating the value of a control. (ALE before
implementing a control) – (ALE after implementing a control) –
(annual cost of control) = value of control.
• Functionality versus effectiveness of control Functionality is what a
control does, and its effectiveness is how well the control does it.
• Total risk Full risk amount before a control is put into place. Threats
× vulnerabilities × assets = total risk.
• Residual risk Risk that remains after implementing a control. Threats
× vulnerabilities × assets × (control gap) = residual risk.
• Handling risk Accept, transfer, mitigate, avoid.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

100
Outsourcing
I am sure that company, based in another company that we have never met or ever heard of,
will protect our most sensitive secrets just fine.
Response: Yeah, they seem real nice.
More organizations are outsourcing business functions to allow them to focus on
their core business functions. Companies use hosting companies to maintain websites
and e-mail servers, service providers for various telecommunication connections, disaster recovery companies for co-location capabilities, cloud computing providers for infrastructure or application services, developers for software creation, and security
companies to carry out vulnerability management. It is important to realize that while
you can outsource functionality, you cannot outsource risk. When your company is using these third-party companies for these various services, your company can still be
ultimately responsible if something like a data breach takes place. We will go more in
depth into these types of issues from a legal aspect (downstream liabilities) in Chapter
9, but let’s look at some things an organization should do to reduce its risk when it
comes to outsourcing.
• Review service provider’s security program
• Conduct onsite inspection and interviews
• Review contracts to ensure security and protection levels are agreed upon
• Ensure service level agreements are in place
• Review internal and external audit reports and third-party reviews
• Review references and communicate with former and existing customers
• Review Better Business Bureau reports
• Ensure they have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place
• Implement a nondisclosure agreement (NDA)
• Understand provider’s legal and regulatory requirements
• Require a Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) 70 audit report
NOTE SAS 70 is an internal controls audit carried out by a third-party
auditing organization.

Outsourcing is so prevalent within organizations today and commonly forgotten
about when it comes to security and compliance requirements. It may be economical
to outsource certain functionalities, but if this allows security breaches to take place, it
can turn out to be a very costly decision.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

101

Policies, Standards, Baselines, Guidelines,
and Procedures
The risk assessment is done. Let’s call it a day.
Response: Nope, there’s more to do.
Computers and the information processed on them usually have a direct relationship with a company’s critical missions and objectives. Because of this level of importance, senior management should make protecting these items a high priority and
provide the necessary support, funds, time, and resources to ensure that systems, networks, and information are protected in the most logical and cost-effective manner
possible. A comprehensive management approach must be developed to accomplish
these goals successfully. This is because everyone within an organization may have a
different set of personal values and experiences they bring to the environment with regard to security. It is important to make sure everyone is regarding security at a level that
meets the needs of the organization as determined by laws, regulations, requirements,
and business goals that have been determined by risk assessments of the environment
of the organization.
For a company’s security plan to be successful, it must start at the top level and be
useful and functional at every single level within the organization. Senior management
needs to define the scope of security and identify and decide what must be protected and
to what extent. Management must understand the regulations, laws, and liability issues
it is responsible for complying with regarding security and ensure that the company as a
whole fulfills its obligations. Senior management also must determine what is expected
from employees and what the consequences of noncompliance will be. These decisions
should be made by the individuals who will be held ultimately responsible if something
goes wrong. But it is a common practice to bring in the expertise of the security officers
to collaborate in ensuring that sufficient policies and controls are being implemented to
achieve the goals being set and determined by senior management.
A security program contains all the pieces necessary to provide overall protection to
a corporation and lays out a long-term security strategy. A security program’s documentation should be made up of security policies, procedures, standards, guidelines, and
baselines. The human resources and legal departments must be involved in the development and enforcement of rules and requirements laid out in these documents.
The language, level of detail, formality of the documents, and supporting mechanisms
should be examined by the policy developers. Security policies, standards, guidelines, procedures, and baselines must be developed with a realistic view to be most effective. Highly
structured organizations usually follow documentation in a more uniform way. Less structured organizations may need more explanation and emphasis to promote compliance.
The more detailed the rules are, the easier it is to know when one has been violated. However, overly detailed documentation and rules can prove to be more burdensome than
helpful. The business type, its culture, and its goals must be evaluated to make sure the
proper language is used when writing security documentation.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

102
There are a lot of legal liability issues surrounding security documentation. If your
organization has a policy outlining how it is supposed to be protecting sensitive information and it is found out that your organization is not practicing what it is preaching,
criminal charges and civil suits could be filed and successfully executed. It is important
that an organization’s security does not just look good on paper, but in action also.

Security Policy
Oh look, this paper tells us what we need to do. I am going to put smiley-face stickers all over it.
A security policy is an overall general statement produced by senior management (or
a selected policy board or committee) that dictates what role security plays within the
organization. A security policy can be an organizational policy, an issue-specific policy,
or a system-specific policy. In an organizational security policy, management establishes
how a security program will be set up, lays out the program’s goals, assigns responsibilities, shows the strategic and tactical value of security, and outlines how enforcement
should be carried out. This policy must address relative laws, regulations, and liability
issues, and how they are to be satisfied. The organizational security policy provides
scope and direction for all future security activities within the organization. It also describes the amount of risk senior management is willing to accept.
The organizational security policy has several important characteristics that must be
understood and implemented:
• Business objectives should drive the policy’s creation, implementation, and
enforcement. The policy should not dictate business objectives.
• It should be an easily understood document that is used as a reference point
for all employees and management.
• It should be developed and used to integrate security into all business
functions and processes.
• It should be derived from and support all legislation and regulations
applicable to the company.
• It should be reviewed and modified as a company changes, such as through
adoption of a new business model, a merger with another company, or change
of ownership.
• Each iteration of the policy should be dated and under version control.
• The units and individuals who are governed by the policy must have easy
access to it. Policies are commonly posted on portals on an intranet.
• It should be created with the intention of having the policies in place for
several years at a time. This will help ensure policies are forward-thinking
enough to deal with potential changes that may arise.
• The level of professionalism in the presentation of the policies reinforces their
importance as well as the need to adhere to them.
• It should not contain language that isn’t readily understood by everyone. Use
clear and declarative statements that are easy to understand and adopt.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

103
• It should be reviewed on a regular basis and adapted to correct incidents that
have occurred since the last review and revision of the policies.
A process for dealing with those who choose not to comply with the security policies must be developed and enforced so there is a structured method of response to
noncompliance. This establishes a process that others can understand and thus recognize not only what is expected of them, but also what they can expect as a response to
their noncompliance.
Organizational policies are also referred to as master security policies. An organization will have many policies, and they should be set up in a hierarchical manner. The
organizational (master) policy is at the highest level, and then there are policies underneath it that address security issues specifically. These are referred to as issue-specific
policies.
An issue-specific policy, also called a functional policy, addresses specific security issues that management feels need more detailed explanation and attention to make sure
a comprehensive structure is built and all employees understand how they are to comply with these security issues. For example, an organization may choose to have an email security policy that outlines what management can and cannot do with employees’
e-mail messages for monitoring purposes, that specifies which e-mail functionality employees can or cannot use, and that addresses specific privacy issues.
As a more specific example, an e-mail policy might state that management can read
any employee’s e-mail messages that reside on the mail server, but not when they reside
on the user’s workstation. The e-mail policy might also state that employees cannot use
e-mail to share confidential information or pass inappropriate material, and that they
may be subject to monitoring of these actions. Before they use their e-mail clients, employees should be asked to confirm that they have read and understand the e-mail
policy, either by signing a confirmation document or clicking Yes in a confirmation
dialog box. The policy provides direction and structure for the staff by indicating what
they can and cannot do. It informs the users of the expectations of their actions, and it
provides liability protection in case an employee cries “foul” for any reason dealing
with e-mail use.
NOTE A policy needs to be technology- and solution-independent. It must
outline the goals and missions, but not tie the organization to specific ways of
accomplishing them.
A common hierarchy of security policies is outlined here, which illustrates the relationship between the master policy and the issue-specific policies that support it:
• Organizational policy
• Acceptable use policy
• Risk management policy
• Vulnerability management policy
• Data protection policy
• Access control policy

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

104
• Business continuity policy
• Log aggregation and auditing policy
• Personnel security policy
• Physical security policy
• Secure application development policy
• Change control policy
• E-mail policy
• Incident response policy
A system-specific policy presents the management’s decisions that are specific to the
actual computers, networks, and applications. An organization may have a system-specific policy outlining how a database containing sensitive information should be protected, who can have access, and how auditing should take place. It may also have a
system-specific policy outlining how laptops should be locked down and managed.
This policy type is directed to one or a group of similar systems and outlines how they
should be protected.
Policies are written in broad terms to cover many subjects in a general fashion.
Much more granularity is needed to actually support the policy, and this happens with
the use of procedures, standards, guidelines, and baselines. The policy provides the
foundation. The procedures, standards, guidelines, and baselines provide the security
framework. And the necessary security controls (administrative, technical, and physical) are used to fill in the framework to provide a full security program.

Types of Policies
Policies generally fall into one of the following categories:
• Regulatory This type of policy ensures that the organization is
following standards set by specific industry regulations (HIPAA, GLBA,
SOX, PCI-DSS, etc.). It is very detailed and specific to a type of industry.
It is used in financial institutions, healthcare facilities, public utilities,
and other government-regulated industries.
• Advisory This type of policy strongly advises employees as to which
types of behaviors and activities should and should not take place
within the organization. It also outlines possible ramifications if
employees do not comply with the established behaviors and activities.
This policy type can be used, for example, to describe how to handle
medical or financial information.
• Informative This type of policy informs employees of certain topics.
It is not an enforceable policy, but rather one that teaches individuals
about specific issues relevant to the company. It could explain how the
company interacts with partners, the company’s goals and mission, and
a general reporting structure in different situations.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

105
Standards
Some things you just gotta do.
Standards refer to mandatory activities, actions, or rules. Standards can give a policy
its support and reinforcement in direction. Organizational security standards may specify how hardware and software products are to be used. They can also be used to indicate expected user behavior. They provide a means to ensure that specific technologies,
applications, parameters, and procedures are implemented in a uniform (standardized) manner across the organization. An organizational standard may require that all
employees wear their company identification badges at all times, that they challenge
unknown individuals about their identity and purpose for being in a specific area, or
that they encrypt confidential information. These rules are compulsory within a company, and if they are going to be effective, they must be enforced.
An organization may have an issue-specific data classification policy that states “All
confidential data must be properly protected.” It would need a supporting data protection standard outlining how this protection should be implemented and followed, as
in “Confidential information must be protected with AES256 at rest and in transit.”
As stated in an earlier section, tactical and strategic goals are different. A strategic
goal can be viewed as the ultimate endpoint, while tactical goals are the steps necessary
to achieve it. As shown in Figure 2-13, standards, guidelines, and procedures are the
tactical tools used to achieve and support the directives in the security policy, which is
considered the strategic goal.
CAUTION The term standard has more than one meaning in our industry.
Internal documentation that lays out rules that must be followed is a standard.
But sometimes, best practices, as in the ISO/IEC 27000 series, are referred to
as standards because they were developed by a standards body. And as we will
see in Chapter 6, we have specific technologic standards, as in IEEE 802.11.You
need to understand the context of how this term is used. The CISSP exam
will not try and trick you on this word; just know that the industry uses it in
several different ways.
Figure 2-13
Policy establishes the
strategic plans, and
the lower elements
provide the tactical
support.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

106
Baselines
The term baseline refers to a point in time that is used as a comparison for future
changes. Once risks have been mitigated and security put in place, a baseline is formally reviewed and agreed upon, after which all further comparisons and development
are measured against it. A baseline results in a consistent reference point.
Let’s say that your doctor has told you that you weigh 400 pounds due to your diet
of donuts, pizza, and soda. (This is very frustrating to you because the TV commercial
said you could eat whatever you wanted and just take their very expensive pills every
day and lose weight.) The doctor tells you that you need to exercise each day and elevate your heart rate to double its normal rate for 30 minutes twice a day. How do you
know when you are at double your heart rate? You find out your baseline (regular heart
rate) by using one of those arm thingies with a little ball attached. So you start at your
baseline and continue to exercise until you have doubled your heart rate or die, whichever comes first.
Baselines are also used to define the minimum level of protection required. In security, specific baselines can be defined per system type, which indicates the necessary
settings and the level of protection being provided. For example, a company may stipulate that all accounting systems must meet an Evaluation Assurance Level (EAL) 4 baseline. This means that only systems that have gone through the Common Criteria process
and achieved this rating can be used in this department. Once the systems are properly
configured, this is the necessary baseline. When new software is installed, when patches or upgrades are applied to existing software, or when other changes to the system
take place, there is a good chance the system may no longer be providing its necessary
minimum level of protection (its baseline). Security personnel must assess the systems
as changes take place and ensure that the baseline level of security is always being met.
If a technician installs a patch on a system and does not ensure the baseline is still being
met, there could be new vulnerabilities introduced into the system that will allow attackers easy access to the network.
NOTE Baselines that are not technology-oriented should be created and
enforced within organizations as well. For example, a company can mandate
that while in the facility all employees must have a badge with a picture ID
in view at all times. It can also state that visitors must sign in at a front desk
and be escorted while in the facility. If these are followed, then this creates a
baseline of protection.

Guidelines
Guidelines are recommended actions and operational guides to users, IT staff, operations staff, and others when a specific standard does not apply. Guidelines can deal
with the methodologies of technology, personnel, or physical security. Life is full of

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

107
gray areas, and guidelines can be used as a reference during those times. Whereas standards are specific mandatory rules, guidelines are general approaches that provide the
necessary flexibility for unforeseen circumstances.
A policy might state that access to confidential data must be audited. A supporting
guideline could further explain that audits should contain sufficient information to allow for reconciliation with prior reviews. Supporting procedures would outline the
necessary steps to configure, implement, and maintain this type of auditing.

Procedures
Procedures are detailed step-by-step tasks that should be performed to achieve a certain
goal. The steps can apply to users, IT staff, operations staff, security members, and others who may need to carry out specific tasks. Many organizations have written procedures on how to install operating systems, configure security mechanisms, implement
access control lists, set up new user accounts, assign computer privileges, audit activities, destroy material, report incidents, and much more.
Procedures are considered the lowest level in the documentation chain because
they are closest to the computers and users (compared to policies) and provide detailed
steps for configuration and installation issues.
Procedures spell out how the policy, standards, and guidelines will actually be implemented in an operating environment. If a policy states that all individuals who access
confidential information must be properly authenticated, the supporting procedures
will explain the steps for this to happen by defining the access criteria for authorization,
how access control mechanisms are implemented and configured, and how access activities are audited. If a standard states that backups should be performed, then the
procedures will define the detailed steps necessary to perform the backup, the timelines
of backups, the storage of backup media, and so on. Procedures should be detailed
enough to be both understandable and useful to a diverse group of individuals.
To tie these items together, let’s walk through an example. A corporation’s security
policy indicates that confidential information should be properly protected. It states the
issue in very broad and general terms. A supporting standard mandates that all customer information held in databases must be encrypted with the Advanced Encryption
Standard (AES) algorithm while it is stored and that it cannot be transmitted over the
Internet unless IPSec encryption technology is used. The standard indicates what type
of protection is required and provides another level of granularity and explanation. The
supporting procedures explain exactly how to implement the AES and IPSec technologies, and the guidelines cover how to handle cases when data is accidentally corrupted
or compromised during transmission. Once the software and devices are configured as
outlined in the procedures, this is considered the baseline that must always be maintained. All of these work together to provide a company with a security structure.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

108
Implementation
Our policies are very informative and look very professional.
Response: Doesn’t matter. Nobody cares.
Unfortunately, security policies, standards, procedures, baselines, and guidelines
often are written because an auditor instructed a company to document these items,
but then they are placed on a file server and are not shared, explained, or used. To be
useful, they must be put into action. No one is going to follow the rules if people don’t
know the rules exist. Security policies and the items that support them not only must
be developed, but must also be implemented and enforced.
To be effective, employees need to know about security issues within these documents; therefore, the policies and their supporting counterparts need visibility. Awareness training, manuals, presentations, newsletters, and legal banners can achieve this
visibility. It must be clear that the directives came from senior management and that
the full management staff supports these policies. Employees must understand what is
expected of them in their actions, behaviors, accountability, and performance.
Implementing security policies and the items that support them shows due care by
the company and its management staff. Informing employees of what is expected of
them and the consequences of noncompliance can come down to a liability issue. If a
company fires an employee because he was downloading pornographic material to the
company’s computer, the employee may take the company to court and win if the employee can prove he was not properly informed of what was considered acceptable and
unacceptable use of company property and what the consequences were. Securityawareness training is covered in later sections, but understand that companies that do
not supply this to their employees are not practicing due care and can be held negligent
and liable in the eyes of the law.

Key Terms
• Policy High-level document that outlines senior management’s
security directives.
• Policy types Organizational (master), issue-specific, system-specific.
• Policy functionality types Regulatory, advisory, informative.
• Standard Compulsory rules that support the security policies.
• Guideline Suggestions and best practices.
• Procedures Step-by-step implementation instructions.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

109

Information Classification
My love letter to my dog is top secret.
Response: As it should be.
Earlier, this chapter touched upon the importance of recognizing what information
is critical to a company and assigning a value to it. The rationale behind assigning values to different types of data is that it enables a company to gauge the amount of funds
and resources that should go toward protecting each type of data, because not all data
has the same value to a company. After identifying all important information, it should
be properly classified. A company has a lot of information that is created and maintained. The reason to classify data is to organize it according to its sensitivity to loss,
disclosure, or unavailability. Once data is segmented according to its sensitivity level,
the company can decide what security controls are necessary to protect different types
of data. This ensures that information assets receive the appropriate level of protection,
and classifications indicate the priority of that security protection. The primary purpose
of data classification is to indicate the level of confidentiality, integrity, and availability
protection that is required for each type of data set. Many people mistakenly only consider the confidentiality aspects of data protection, but we need to make sure our data
is not modified in an unauthorized manner and that it is available when needed.
Data classification helps ensure data is protected in the most cost-effective manner.
Protecting and maintaining data costs money, but it is important to spend this money
for the information that actually requires protection. Going back to our very sophisticated example of U.S. spy satellites and the peanut butter and banana sandwich recipe,
a company in charge of encryption algorithms used to transmit data to and from U.S.
spy satellites would classify this data as top secret and apply complex and highly technical security controls and procedures to ensure it is not accessed in an unauthorized
method and disclosed. On the other hand, the sandwich recipe would have a lower
classification, and your only means of protecting it might be to not talk about it.
Each classification should have separate handling requirements and procedures
pertaining to how that data is accessed, used, and destroyed. For example, in a corporation, confidential information may be accessed only by senior management and a select few throughout the company. Accessing the information may require two or more
people to enter their access codes. Auditing could be very detailed and its results monitored daily, and paper copies of the information may be kept in a vault. To properly
erase this data from the media, degaussing or zeroization procedures may be required.
Other information in this company may be classified as sensitive, allowing a slightly
larger group of people to view it. Access control on the information classified as sensitive may require only one set of credentials. Auditing happens but is only reviewed
weekly, paper copies are kept in locked file cabinets, and the data can be deleted using
regular measures when it is time to do so. Then, the rest of the information is marked
public. All employees can access it, and no special auditing or destruction methods are
required.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

110
Classifications Levels
There are no hard and fast rules on the classification levels that an organization should
use. An organization could choose to use any of the classification levels presented in
Table 2-11. One organization may choose to use only two layers of classifications, while
another company may choose to use four. Table 2-11 explains the types of classifications available. Note that some classifications are more commonly used for commercial businesses, whereas others are military classifications.

Classification

Definition

Examples

Organizations That
Would Use This

Public

• Disclosure is not
welcome, but it would
not cause an adverse
impact to company or
personnel.

• How many people
are working on a
specific project
• Upcoming projects

Commercial business

Sensitive

• Requires special
precautions to ensure
the integrity and
confidentiality of the
data by protecting it
from unauthorized
modification or
deletion.
• Requires higher-thannormal assurance
of accuracy and
completeness.

• Financial information
• Details of projects
• Profit earnings and
forecasts

Commercial business

Private

• Personal information
for use within a
company.
• Unauthorized
disclosure could
adversely affect
personnel or the
company.

• Work history
• Human resources
information
• Medical information

Commercial business

Confidential

• For use within the
company only.
• Data exempt from
disclosure under
the Freedom of
Information Act
or other laws and
regulations.
• Unauthorized
disclosure could
seriously affect a
company.

• Trade secrets
• Healthcare
information
• Programming code
• Information that
keeps the company
competitive

Commercial business
Military

Table 2-11 Commercial Business and Military Data Classification

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

111
Classification

Definition

Examples

Organizations That
Would Use This

Unclassified

• Data is not sensitive or
classified.

• Computer manual
and warranty
information
• Recruiting
information

Military

Sensitive but
unclassified (SBU)

• Minor secret.
• If disclosed, it may not
cause serious damage.

• Medical data
• Answers to test
scores

Military

Secret

• If disclosed, it could
cause serious damage
to national security.

• Deployment plans
for troops
• Nuclear bomb
placement

Military

Top secret

• If disclosed, it could
cause grave damage to
national security.

• Blueprints of new
wartime weapons
• Spy satellite
information
• Espionage data

Military

Table 2-11 Commercial Business and Military Data Classification (continued)

The following shows the common levels of sensitivity from the highest to the lowest for commercial business:
• Confidential
• Private
• Sensitive
• Public
The following shows the levels of sensitivity from the highest to the lowest for military purposes:
• Top secret
• Secret
• Confidential
• Sensitive but unclassified
• Unclassified
The classifications listed in the table are commonly used in the industry, but there is
a lot of variance. An organization first must decide the number of data classifications
that best fit its security needs, then choose the classification naming scheme, and then
define what the names in those schemes represent. Company A might use the classification level “confidential,” which represents its most sensitive information. Company B
might use “top secret,” “secret,” and “confidential,” where confidential represents its
least sensitive information. Each organization must develop an information classification scheme that best fits its business and security needs.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

112
It is important to not go overboard and come up with a long list of classifications,
which will only cause confusion and frustration for the individuals who will use the
system. The classifications should not be too restrictive and detailed-oriented either,
because many types of data may need to be classified.
Each classification should be unique and separate from the others and not have any
overlapping effects. The classification process should also outline how information is
controlled and handled through their life cycles (from creation to termination).
Once the scheme is decided upon, the organization must develop the criteria it will
use to decide what information goes into which classification. The following list shows
some criteria parameters an organization may use to determine the sensitivity of data:
• The usefulness of data
• The value of data
• The age of data
• The level of damage that could be caused if the data were disclosed
• The level of damage that could be caused if the data were modified or
corrupted
• Legal, regulatory, or contractual responsibility to protect the data
• Effects the data has on security
• Who should be able to access the data
• Who should maintain the data
• Who should be able to reproduce the data
• Lost opportunity costs that could be incurred if the data were not available or
were corrupted
Data are not the only things that may need to be classified. Applications and sometimes whole systems may need to be classified. The applications that hold and process
classified information should be evaluated for the level of protection they provide. You
do not want a program filled with security vulnerabilities to process and “protect” your
most sensitive information. The application classifications should be based on the assurance (confidence level) the company has in the software and the type of information it can store and process.
NOTE An organization must make sure that whoever is backing up classified
data—and whoever has access to backed-up data—has the necessary
clearance level. A large security risk can be introduced if low-end technicians
with no security clearance have access to this information during their tasks.
CAUTION The classification rules must apply to data no matter what format
it is in: digital, paper, video, fax, audio, and so on.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

113
Now that we have chosen a sensitivity scheme, the next step is to specify how each
classification should be dealt with. We must specify provisions for access control, identification, and labeling, along with how data in specific classifications are stored, maintained, transmitted, and destroyed. We also must iron out auditing, monitoring, and
compliance issues. Each classification requires a different degree of security and, therefore, different requirements from each of the mentioned items.

Classification Controls
I marked our top secret stuff as “top secret.”
Response: Great, now everyone is going to want to see it. Good job.
As mentioned earlier, which types of controls are implemented per classification
depends upon the level of protection that management and the security team have determined is needed. The numerous types of controls available are discussed throughout
this book. But some considerations pertaining to sensitive data and applications are
common across most organizations:
• Strict and granular access control for all levels of sensitive data and programs
(see Chapter 3 for coverage of access controls, along with file system
permissions that should be understood)
• Encryption of data while stored and while in transmission (see Chapter 7 for
coverage of all types of encryption technologies)
• Auditing and monitoring (determine what level of auditing is required and
how long logs are to be retained)
• Separation of duties (determine whether two or more people must be
involved in accessing sensitive information to protect against fraudulent
activities; if so, define and document procedures)
• Periodic reviews (review classification levels, and the data and programs that
adhere to them, to ensure they are still in alignment with business needs; data
or applications may also need to be reclassified or declassified, depending
upon the situation)
• Backup and recovery procedures (define and document)
• Change control procedures (define and document)
• Physical security protection (define and document)
• Information flow channels (where does the sensitive data reside and how does
it transverse the network)
• Proper disposal actions, such as shredding, degaussing, and so on (define and
document)
• Marking, labeling, and handling procedures

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

114
Data Classification Procedures
The following outlines the necessary steps for a proper classification program:
1. Define classification levels.
2. Specify the criteria that will determine how data are classified.
3. Identify data owners who will be responsible for classifying data.
4. Identify the data custodian who will be responsible for maintaining
data and its security level.
5. Indicate the security controls, or protection mechanisms, required for
each classification level.
6. Document any exceptions to the previous classification issues.
7. Indicate the methods that can be used to transfer custody of the
information to a different data owner.
8. Create a procedure to periodically review the classification and
ownership. Communicate any changes to the data custodian.
9. Indicate procedures for declassifying the data.
10. Integrate these issues into the security-awareness program so all employees
understand how to handle data at different classification levels.

Layers of Responsibility
Okay, who is in charge so we have someone to blame?
Senior management and other levels of management understand the vision of the
company, the business goals, and the objectives. The next layer down is the functional
management, whose members understand how their individual departments work,
what roles individuals play within the company, and how security affects their department directly. The next layers are operational managers and staff. These layers are closer
to the actual operations of the company. They know detailed information about the
technical and procedural requirements, the systems, and how the systems are used. The
employees at these layers understand how security mechanisms integrate into systems,
how to configure them, and how they affect daily productivity. Every layer offers different insight into what type of role security plays within an organization, and each should
have input into the best security practices, procedures, and chosen controls to ensure
the agreed-upon security level provides the necessary amount of protection without
negatively affecting the company’s productivity.
Although each layer is important to the overall security of an organization, some
specific roles must be clearly defined. Individuals who work in smaller environments
(where everyone must wear several hats) may get overwhelmed with the number of
roles presented next. Many commercial businesses do not have this level of structure in
their security teams, but many government agencies and military units do. What you

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

115
need to understand are the responsibilities that must be assigned, and whether they are
assigned to just a few people or to a large security team. These roles are the board of
directors, security officer, data owner, data custodian, system owner, security administrator, security analyst, application owner, supervisor (user manager), change control
analyst, data analyst, process owner, solution provider, user, product line manager, and
the guy who gets everyone coffee.

Board of Directors
Hey, Enron was successful for many years. What’s wrong with their approach?
The board of directors is a group of individuals who are elected by the shareholders
of a corporation to oversee the fulfillment of the corporation’s charter. The goal of the
board is to ensure the shareholders’ interests are being protected and that the corporation is being run properly. They are supposed to be unbiased and independent individuals who oversee the executive staff’s performance in running the company.
For many years, too many people who held these positions either looked the other
way regarding corporate fraud and mismanagement or depended too much on executive management’s feedback instead of finding out the truth about their company’s
health themselves. We know this because of all of the corporate scandals uncovered in
2002 (Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing, and so on). The boards of directors of these
corporations were responsible for knowing about these types of fraudulent activities
and putting a stop to them to protect shareholders. Many things caused the directors
not to play the role they should have. Some were intentional, some not. These scandals
forced the U.S. government and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to
place more requirements, and potential penalties, on the boards of directors of publicly traded companies. This is why many companies today are having a harder time
finding candidates to fulfill these roles—personal liability for a part-time job is a real
downer.
Independence is important if the board members are going to truly work for the
benefit of the shareholders. This means the board members should not have immediate family who are employees of the company, the board members should not receive
financial benefits from the company that could cloud their judgment or create conflicts
of interests, and no other activities should cause the board members to act other than
as champions of the company’s shareholders. This is especially true if the company
must comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). Under this act, the board of directors
can be held personally responsible if the corporation does not properly maintain an
internal corporate governance framework, and/or if financials reported to the SEC are
incorrect.
NOTE Other regulations also call out requirements of boards of directors, as
in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA). But SOX is a regulation that holds the
members of the board personally responsible; thus, they can each be fined or
go to jail.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

116
CAUTION The CISSP exam does not cover anything about specific
regulations (SOX, HIPAA, GLBA, Basel II, SB 1386, and so on). So do not get
wrapped up in studying these for the exam. However, it is critical that the
security professional understand the regulations and laws of the country and
region she is working within.

Executive Management
I am very important, but I am missing a “C” in my title.
Response: Then you are not so important.
This motley crew is made up of individuals whose titles start with a C. The chief
executive officer (CEO) has the day-to-day management responsibilities of an organization. This person is often the chairperson of the board of directors and is the highestranking officer in the company. This role is for the person who oversees the company’s
finances, strategic planning, and operations from a high level. The CEO is usually seen
as the visionary for the company and is responsible for developing and modifying the
company’s business plan. He sets budgets, forms partnerships, decides on what markets
to enter, what product lines to develop, how the company will differentiate itself, and
so on. This role’s overall responsibility is to ensure that the company grows and thrives.
NOTE The CEO can delegate tasks, but not necessarily responsibility. More
and more regulations dealing with information security are holding this
role’s feet to the fire, which is why security departments across the land are
receiving more funding. Personal liability for the decision makers and pursestring holders has loosened those purse strings, and companies are now able
to spend more money on security than before.
The chief financial officer (CFO) is responsible for the corporation’s account and
financial activities and the overall financial structure of the organization. This person is
responsible for determining what the company’s financial needs will be and how to
finance those needs. The CFO must create and maintain the company’s capital structure, which is the proper mix of equity, credit, cash, and debt financing. This person
oversees forecasting and budgeting and the processes of submitting quarterly and annual financial statements to the SEC and stakeholders.
The CFO and CEO are responsible for informing stakeholders (creditors, analysts,
employees, management, investors) of the firm’s financial condition and health. After
the corporate debacles uncovered in 2002, the U.S. government and the SEC started
doling out stiff penalties to people who held these roles and abused them, as shown in
the following:
• January 2004 Enron ex-Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow was given
a ten-year prison sentence for his accounting scandals, which was a reduced
term because he cooperated with prosecutors.
• June 2005 John Rigas, the CEO of Adelphia Communications Corp., was
sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in the looting and debt-hiding
scandal that pummeled the company into bankruptcy. His son, who also held
an executive position, was sentenced to 20 years.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

117
• July 2005 WorldCom ex-Chief Executive Officer Bernard Ebbers was
sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in orchestrating the biggest
corporate fraud in the nation’s history.
• August 2005 Former WorldCom Chief Financial Officer Scott Sullivan was
sentenced to five years in prison for his role in engineering the $11 billion
accounting fraud that led to the bankruptcy of the telecommunications
powerhouse.
• December 2005 The former Chief Executive Officer of HealthSouth Corp.
was sentenced to five years in prison for his part in the $2.7 billion scandal.
These are only the big ones that made it into all the headlines. Other CEOs and CFOs
have also received punishments for “creative accounting” and fraudulent activities.
NOTE Although the preceding activities took place years ago, these were the
events that motivated the U.S. government to create new laws and regulations
to control different types of fraud.
Figure 2-14 shows how the board members are responsible for setting the organization’s strategy and risk appetite (how much risk the company should take on). The

Figure 2-14 Risk must be understood at different departments and levels.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

118
board is also responsible for receiving information from executives, as well as for the
assurance (auditing committee). With these inputs, the board is supposed to ensure
that the company is running properly, thus protecting shareholders’ interests. Also notice that the business unit owners are the risk owners, not the security department. Too
many companies are not extending the responsibility of risk out to the business units,
which is why the CISO position is commonly referred to as the sacrificial lamb.

Chief Information Officer
On a lower rung of the food chain is the chief information officer (CIO). This individual can report to the CEO or CFO, depending upon the corporate structure, and is responsible for the strategic use and management of information systems and technology
within the organization. Over time, this position has become more strategic and less
operational in many organizations. CIOs oversee and are responsible for the day-inday-out technology operations of a company, but because organizations are so dependent upon technology, CIOs are being asked to sit at the big boys’ corporate table more
and more.
CIO responsibilities have extended to working with the CEO (and other management) on business-process management, revenue generation, and how business strategy can be accomplished with the company’s underlying technology. This person
usually should have one foot in techno-land and one foot in business-land to be effective, because he is bridging two very different worlds.
The CIO sets the stage for the protection of company assets and is ultimately responsible for the success of the company security program. Direction should be coming down from the CEO, and there should be clear lines of communication between
the board of directors, the C-level staff, and mid-management. In SOX, the CEO and
CFO have outlined responsibilities and penalties they can be personally liable for if
those responsibilities are not carried out. The SEC wanted to make sure these roles cannot just allow their companies to absorb fines if they misbehave. Under this law they
can personally be fined millions of dollars and/or go to jail. Such things always make
them perk up during meetings.

Chief Privacy Officer
The chief privacy officer (CPO) is a newer position, created mainly because of the increasing demands on organizations to protect a long laundry list of different types of
data. This role is responsible for ensuring that customer, company, and employee data
are kept safe, which keeps the company out of criminal and civil courts and hopefully
out of the headlines. This person is usually an attorney and is directly involved with
setting policies on how data are collected, protected, and given out to third parties. The
CPO often reports to the chief security officer.
It is important that the company understand the privacy, legal, and regulatory requirements the organization must comply with. With this knowledge, you can then
develop the organization’s policies, standards, procedures, controls, and contract agreements to see if privacy requirements are being properly met. Remember also that organizations are responsible for knowing how their suppliers, partners, and other third

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

119
parties are protecting this sensitive information. Many times, companies will need to
review these other parties (which have copies of data needing protection).
Some companies have carried out risk assessments without including the penalties
and ramifications they would be forced to deal with if they did not properly protect the
information they are responsible for. Without including these liabilities, risk cannot be
properly assessed.
The organization should document how privacy data are collected, used, disclosed,
archived, and destroyed. Employees should be held accountable for not following the
organization’s standards on how to handle this type of information.
NOTE Carrying out a risk assessment from the perspective of the protection
of sensitive data is called a privacy impact analysis.You can review “How
to Do a Privacy Assessment” at www.actcda.com/resource/multiapp.pdf to
understand the steps.

Chief Security Officer
Hey, we need a sacrificial lamb in case things go bad.
Response: We already have one. He’s called the chief security officer.
The chief security officer (CSO) is responsible for understanding the risks that the
company faces and for mitigating these risks to an acceptable level. This role is responsible for understanding the organization’s business drivers and for creating and maintaining a security program that facilitates these drivers, along with providing security,
compliance with a long list of regulations and laws, and any customer expectations or
contractual obligations.
The creation of this role is a mark in the “win” column for the security industry
because it means security is finally being seen as a business issue. Previously, security
was stuck in the IT department and was viewed solely as a technology issue. As organizations saw the need to integrate security requirements and business needs, the need of
creating a position for security in the executive management team became more of a
necessity. The CSO’s job is to ensure that business is not disrupted in any way due to
security issues. This extends beyond IT and reaches into business processes, legal issues,
operational issues, revenue generation, and reputation protection.

Privacy
Privacy is different from security. Privacy indicates the amount of control an individual should be able to have and expect as it relates to the release of their own
sensitive information. Security is the mechanisms that can be put into place to
provide this level of control.
It is becoming more critical (and more difficult) to protect personal identifiable information (PII) because of the increase of identity theft and financial
fraud threats. PII is a combination of identification elements (name, address,
phone number, account number, etc.). Organizations must have privacy policies
and controls in place to protect their employee and customer PII.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

120
CSO vs. CISO
The CSO and chief information security officer (CISO) may have similar or very
different responsibilities. How is that for clarification? It is up to the individual
organization to define the responsibilities of these two roles and whether they
will use both, either, or neither. By and large, the CSO role usually has a fartherreaching list of responsibilities compared to the CISO role. The CISO is usually
focused more on technology and has an IT background. The CSO usually is required to understand a wider range of business risks, including physical security,
not just technological risks.
The CSO is usually more of a businessperson and typically is present in larger
organizations. If a company has both roles, the CISO reports directly to the CSO.
The CSO is commonly responsible for the convergence, which is the formal
cooperation between previously disjointed security functions. This mainly pertains to physical and IT security working in a more concerted manner instead of
working in silos within the organization. Issues such as loss prevention, fraud
prevention, business continuity planning, legal/regulatory compliance, and insurance all have physical security and IT security aspects and requirements. So
one individual (CSO) overseeing and intertwining these different security disciplines allows for a more holistic and comprehensive security program.

Security Steering Committee
Our steering committee just ran us into a wall.
A security steering committee is responsible for making decisions on tactical and
strategic security issues within the enterprise as a whole and should not be tied to one
or more business units. The group should be made up of people from all over the organization so they can view risks and the effects of security decisions on individual departments and the organization as a whole. The CEO should head this committee, and
the CFO, CIO, department managers, and chief internal auditor should all be on it.
This committee should meet at least quarterly and have a well-defined agenda.
Some of the group’s responsibilities are as follows:
• Define the acceptable risk level for the organization.
• Develop security objectives and strategies.
• Determine priorities of security initiatives based on business needs.
• Review risk assessment and auditing reports.
• Monitor the business impact of security risks.
• Review major security breaches and incidents.
• Approve any major change to the security policy and program.
They should also have a clearly defined vision statement in place that is set up to
work with and support the organizational intent of the business. The statement should

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

121
be structured in a manner that provides support for the goals of confidentiality, integrity, and availability as they pertain to the business objectives of the organization. This
in turn should be followed, or supported, by a mission statement that provides support
and definition to the processes that will apply to the organization and allow it to reach
its business goals.

Audit Committee
The audit committee should be appointed by the board of directors to help it review and
evaluate the company’s internal operations, internal audit system, and the transparency
and accuracy of financial reporting so the company’s investors, customers, and creditors have continued confidence in the organization.
This committee is usually responsible for at least the following items:
• The integrity of the company’s financial statements and other financial
information provided to stockholders and others
• The company’s system of internal controls
• The engagement and performance of the independent auditors
• The performance of the internal audit function
• Compliance with legal requirements, regulations, and company policies
regarding ethical conduct
The goal of this committee is to provide independent and open communications
among the board of directors, the company’s management, the internal auditors, and
external auditors. Financial statement integrity and reliability are crucial to every organization, and many times pressure from shareholders, management, investors, and the
public can directly affect the objectivity and correctness of these financial documents. In
the wake of high-profile corporate scandals, the audit committee’s role has shifted from
just overseeing, monitoring, and advising company management to enforcing and ensuring accountability on the part of all individuals involved. This committee must take
input from external and internal auditors and outside experts to help ensure the company’s internal control processes and financial reporting are taking place properly.

Data Owner
The data owner (information owner) is usually a member of management who is in
charge of a specific business unit, and who is ultimately responsible for the protection
and use of a specific subset of information. The data owner has due care responsibilities
and thus will be held responsible for any negligent act that results in the corruption or
disclosure of the data. The data owner decides upon the classification of the data she is
responsible for and alters that classification if the business need arises. This person is
also responsible for ensuring that the necessary security controls are in place, defining
security requirements per classification and backup requirements, approving any disclosure activities, ensuring that proper access rights are being used, and defining user
access criteria. The data owner approves access requests or may choose to delegate this

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

122
function to business unit managers. And the data owner will deal with security violations pertaining to the data she is responsible for protecting. The data owner, who obviously has enough on her plate, delegates responsibility of the day-to-day maintenance
of the data protection mechanisms to the data custodian.

Data Custodian
Hey, custodian, clean up my mess!
Response: I’m not that type of custodian.
The data custodian (information custodian) is responsible for maintaining and protecting the data. This role is usually filled by the IT or security department, and the
duties include implementing and maintaining security controls; performing regular
backups of the data; periodically validating the integrity of the data; restoring data from
backup media; retaining records of activity; and fulfilling the requirements specified in
the company’s security policy, standards, and guidelines that pertain to information
security and data protection.

System Owner
I am god over this system!
Response: You are responsible for a printer? Your mother must be proud.
The system owner is responsible for one or more systems, each of which may hold
and process data owned by different data owners. A system owner is responsible for
integrating security considerations into application and system purchasing decisions
and development projects. The system owner is responsible for ensuring that adequate
security is being provided by the necessary controls, password management, remote
access controls, operating system configurations, and so on. This role must ensure the
systems are properly assessed for vulnerabilities and must report any to the incident
response team and data owner.

Security Administrator
The security administrator is responsible for implementing and maintaining specific
security network devices and software in the enterprise. These controls commonly include firewalls, IDS, IPS, antimalware, security proxies, data loss prevention, etc. It is

Data Owner Issues
Each business unit should have a data owner who protects the unit’s most critical
information. The company’s policies must give the data owners the necessary
authority to carry out their tasks.
This is not a technical role, but rather a business role that must understand
the relationship between the unit’s success and the protection of this critical asset. Not all businesspeople understand this role, so they should be given the
necessary training.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

123
common for there to be delineation between the security administrator and the network administrator. The security administrator has the main focus of keeping the network secure, and the network administrator has the focus of keeping things up and
running.
A security administrator’s tasks commonly also include creating new system user
accounts, implementing new security software, testing security patches and components, and issuing new passwords. The security administrator must make sure access
rights given to users support the policies and data owner directives.

Security Analyst
I have analyzed your security and you have it all wrong.
Response: What a surprise.
The security analyst role works at a higher, more strategic level than the previously
described roles and helps develop policies, standards, and guidelines, as well as set various baselines. Whereas the previous roles are “in the weeds” and focus on pieces and
parts of the security program, a security analyst helps define the security program elements and follows through to ensure the elements are being carried out and practiced
properly. This person works more at a design level than at an implementation level.

Application Owner
Some applications are specific to individual business units—for example, the accounting department has accounting software, R&D has software for testing and development, and quality assurance uses some type of automated system. The application owners, usually the business unit managers, are responsible for dictating who can and cannot access their applications (subject to staying in compliance with the company’s security policies, of course).
Since each unit claims ownership of its specific applications, the application owner
for each unit is responsible for the security of the unit’s applications. This includes testing, patching, performing change control on the programs, and making sure the right
controls are in place to provide the necessary level of protection.

Supervisor
The supervisor role, also called user manager, is ultimately responsible for all user activity and any assets created and owned by these users. For example, suppose Kathy is the
supervisor of ten employees. Her responsibilities would include ensuring that these
employees understand their responsibilities with respect to security; making sure the
employees’ account information is up-to-date; and informing the security administrator when an employee is fired, suspended, or transferred. Any change that pertains to
an employee’s role within the company usually affects what access rights they should
and should not have, so the user manager must inform the security administrator of
these changes immediately.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

124
Change Control Analyst
I have analyzed your change request and it will destroy this company.
Response: I am okay with that.
Since the only thing that is constant is change, someone must make sure changes
happen securely. The change control analyst is responsible for approving or rejecting
requests to make changes to the network, systems, or software. This role must make
certain that the change will not introduce any vulnerabilities, that it has been properly
tested, and that it is properly rolled out. The change control analyst needs to understand how various changes can affect security, interoperability, performance, and productivity. Or, a company can choose to just roll out the change and see what happens….

Data Analyst
Having proper data structures, definitions, and organization is very important to a
company. The data analyst is responsible for ensuring that data is stored in a way that
makes the most sense to the company and the individuals who need to access and work
with it. For example, payroll information should not be mixed with inventory information, the purchasing department needs to have a lot of its values in monetary terms,
and the inventory system must follow a standardized naming scheme. The data analyst
may be responsible for architecting a new system that will hold company information,
or advise in the purchase of a product that will do so.
The data analyst works with the data owners to help ensure that the structures set
up coincide with and support the company’s business objectives.

Process Owner
Ever heard the popular mantra, “Security is not a product, it’s a process”? The statement
is very true. Security should be considered and treated like any another business process—not as its own island, nor like a redheaded stepchild with cooties. (The author is
a redheaded stepchild, but currently has no cooties.)
All organizations have many processes: how to take orders from customers; how
to make widgets to fulfill these orders; how to ship the widgets to the customers; how
to collect from customers when they don’t pay their bills; and so on. An organization
could not function properly without well-defined processes.
The process owner is responsible for properly defining, improving upon, and monitoring these processes. A process owner is not necessarily tied to one business unit or
application. Complex processes involve many variables that can span different departments, technologies, and data types.

Solution Provider
I came up with the solution to world peace, but then I forgot it.
Response: Write it down on this napkin next time.
Every vendor you talk to will tell you they are the right solution provider for whatever ails you. In truth, several different types of solution providers exist because the

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

125
world is full of different problems. This role is called upon when a business has a problem or requires a process to be improved upon. For example, if Company A needs a
solution that supports digitally signed e-mails and an authentication framework for
employees, it would turn to a public key infrastructure (PKI) solution provider. A solution provider works with the business unit managers, data owners, and senior management to develop and deploy a solution to reduce the company’s pain points.

User
I have concluded that our company would be much more secure without users.
Response: I’ll start on the pink slips.
The user is any individual who routinely uses the data for work-related tasks. The
user must have the necessary level of access to the data to perform the duties within
their position and is responsible for following operational security procedures to ensure the data’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability to others.

Product Line Manager
Who’s responsible for explaining business requirements to vendors and wading through
their rhetoric to see if the product is right for the company? Who is responsible for
ensuring compliance to license agreements? Who translates business requirements into
objectives and specifications for the developer of a product or solution? Who decides if
the company really needs to upgrade their operating system version every time Microsoft wants to make more money? That would be the product line manager.
This role must understand business drivers, business processes, and the technology
that is required to support them. The product line manager evaluates different products
in the market, works with vendors, understands different options a company can take,
and advises management and business units on the proper solutions needed to meet
their goals.

Auditor
The auditor is coming! Hurry up and do all that stuff he told us to do last year!
The function of the auditor is to come around periodically and make sure you are
doing what you are supposed to be doing. They ensure the correct controls are in place
and are being maintained securely. The goal of the auditor is to make sure the organization complies with its own policies and the applicable laws and regulations. Organizations can have internal auditors and/or external auditors. The external auditors
commonly work on behalf of a regulatory body to make sure compliance is being met.
In an earlier section we covered CobiT, which is a model that most information security auditors follow when evaluating a security program.
While many security professionals fear and dread auditors, they can be valuable
tools in ensuring the overall security of the organization. Their goal is to find the things
you have missed and help you understand how to fix the problem.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

126
Why So Many Roles?
Most organizations will not have all the roles previously listed, but what is important
is to build an organizational structure that contains the necessary roles and map the
correct security responsibilities to them. This structure includes clear definitions of responsibilities, lines of authority and communication, and enforcement capabilities. A
clear-cut structure takes the mystery out of who does what and how things are handled
in different situations.

Personnel Security
Many facets of the responsibilities of personnel fall under management’s umbrella, and
several facets have a direct correlation to the overall security of the environment.
Although society has evolved to be extremely dependent upon technology in the
workplace, people are still the key ingredient to a successful company. But in security
circles, people are often the weakest link. Either accidentally through mistakes or lack
of training, or intentionally through fraud and malicious intent, personnel cause more
serious and hard-to-detect security issues than hacker attacks, outside espionage, or
equipment failure. Although the future actions of individuals cannot be predicted, it is
possible to minimize the risks by implementing preventive measures. These include
hiring the most qualified individuals, performing background checks, using detailed
job descriptions, providing necessary training, enforcing strict access controls, and terminating individuals in a way that protects all parties involved.
Several items can be put into place to reduce the possibilities of fraud, sabotage,
misuse of information, theft, and other security compromises. Separation of duties
makes sure that one individual cannot complete a critical task by herself. In the movies,
when a submarine captain needs to launch a nuclear torpedo to blow up the enemy
and save civilization as we know it, the launch usually requires three codes to be entered into the launching mechanism by three different senior crewmembers. This is an
example of separation of duties, and it ensures that the captain cannot complete such
an important and terrifying task all by himself.
Separation of duties is a preventative administrative control put into place to reduce
the potential of fraud. For example, an employee cannot complete a critical financial
transaction by herself. She will need to have her supervisor’s written approval before
the transaction can be completed.
In an organization that practices separation of duties, collusion must take place for
fraud to be committed. Collusion means that at least two people are working together
to cause some type of destruction or fraud. In our example, the employee and her supervisor must be participating in the fraudulent activity to make it happen.
Two variations of separation of duties are split knowledge and dual control. In both
cases, two or more individuals are authorized and required to perform a duty or task.
In the case of split knowledge, no one person knows or has all the details to perform a
task. For example, two managers might be required to open a bank vault, with each

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

127
only knowing part of the combination. In the case of dual control, two individuals are
again authorized to perform a task, but both must be available and active in their participation to complete the task or mission. For example, two officers must perform an
identical key-turn in a nuclear missile submarine, each out of reach of the other, to
launch a missile. The control here is that no one person has the capability of launching
a missile, because they cannot reach to turn both keys at the same time.
Rotation of duties (rotation of assignments) is an administrative detective control
that can be put into place to uncover fraudulent activities. No one person should stay
in one position for a long time because they may end up having too much control over
a segment of the business. Such total control could result in fraud or the misuse of resources. Employees should be moved into different roles with the idea that they may be
able to detect suspicious activity carried out by the previous employee carrying out that
position. This type of control is commonly implemented in financial institutions.
Employees in sensitive areas should be forced to take their vacations, which is
known as a mandatory vacation. While they are on vacation, other individuals fill their
positions and thus can usually detect any fraudulent errors or activities. Two of the
many ways to detect fraud or inappropriate activities would be the discovery of activity
on someone’s user account while they’re supposed to be away on vacation, or if a specific problem stopped while someone was away and not active on the network. These
anomalies are worthy of investigation. Employees who carry out fraudulent activities
commonly do not take vacations because they do not want anyone to figure out what
they are doing behind the scenes. This is why they must be forced to be away from the
organization for a period of time, usually two weeks.

Key Terms
• Data owner Individual responsible for the protection and
classification of a specific data set.
• Data custodian Individual responsible for implementing and
maintaining security controls to meet security requirements outlined
by data owner.
• Separation of duties Preventive administrative control used to ensure
one person cannot carry out a critical task alone.
• Collusion Two or more people working together to carry out
fraudulent activities.
• Rotation of duties Detective administrative control used to uncover
potential fraudulent activities.
• Mandatory vacation Detective administrative control used to uncover
potential fraudulent activities by requiring a person to be away from
the organization for a period of time.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

128
Hiring Practices
I like your hat. You’re hired!
Depending on the position to be filled, a level of screening should be done by human resources to ensure the company hires the right individual for the right job. Skills
should be tested and evaluated, and the caliber and character of the individual should
be examined. Joe might be the best programmer in the state, but if someone looks into
his past and finds out he served prison time because he continually flashes old ladies
in parks, the hiring manager might not be so eager to bring Joe into the organization.
Nondisclosure agreements must be developed and signed by new employees to protect the company and its sensitive information. Any conflicts of interest must be addressed, and there should be different agreements and precautions taken with temporary
and contract employees.
References should be checked, military records reviewed, education verified, and if
necessary, a drug test should be administered. Many times, important personal behaviors can be concealed, and that is why hiring practices now include scenario questions,
personality tests, and observations of the individual, instead of just looking at a person’s work history. When a person is hired, he is bringing his skills and whatever other
baggage he carries. A company can reduce its heartache pertaining to personnel by first
conducting useful and careful hiring practices.
The goal is to hire the “right person” and not just hire a person for “right now.”
Employees represent an investment on the part of the organization, and by taking the
time and hiring the right people for the jobs, the organization will be able to maximize
their investment and achieve a better return.
A more detailed background check can reveal some interesting information. Things
like unexplained gaps in employment history, the validity and actual status of professional certifications, criminal records, driving records, job titles that have been misrepresented, credit histories, unfriendly terminations, appearances on suspected terrorist
watch lists, and even real reasons for having left previous jobs can all be determined
through the use of background checks. This has real benefit to the employer and the
organization because it serves as the first line of defense for the organization against
being attacked from within. Any negative information that can be found in these areas
could be indicators of potential problems that the potential employee could create for
the company at a later date. Take the credit report for instance. On the surface, this may
seem to be something the organization doesn’t need to know about, but if the report
indicates the potential employee has a poor credit standing and a history of financial
problems, it could mean you don’t want to place them in charge of the organization’s
accounting, or even the petty cash.
Ultimately, the goal here is to achieve several different things at the same time by
using a background check. You’re trying to mitigate risk, lower hiring costs, and also
lower the turnover rate for employees. All this is being done at the same time you are
trying to protect your existing customers and employees from someone gaining em-

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

129
ployment in your organization who could potentially conduct malicious and dishonest
actions that could harm you, your employees, and your customers as well as the general public. In many cases, it is also harder to go back and conduct background checks
after the individual has been hired and is working. This is because there will need to be
a specific cause or reason for conducting this kind of investigation, and if any employee
moves to a position of greater security sensitivity or potential risk, a follow-up investigation should be considered.
Possible background check criteria could include
• A Social Security number trace
• A county/state criminal check
• A federal criminal check
• A sexual offender registry check
• Employment verification
• Education verification
• Professional reference verification
• An immigration check
• Professional license/certification verification
• Credit report
• Drug screening

Termination
I no longer like your hat. You are fired.
Because terminations can happen for a variety of reasons, and terminated people
have different reactions, companies should have a specific set of procedures to follow
with every termination. For example:
• The employee must leave the facility immediately under the supervision of a
manager or security guard.
• The employee must surrender any identification badges or keys, complete an
exit interview, and return company supplies.
• That user’s accounts and passwords should be disabled or changed immediately.
It seems harsh and cold when this actually takes place, but too many companies
have been hurt by vengeful employees who have lashed out at the company when their
positions were revoked for one reason or another. If an employee is disgruntled in any
way, or the termination is unfriendly, that employee’s accounts should be disabled right
away, and all passwords on all systems changed.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

130
Security-Awareness Training
Our CEO said our organization is secure.
Response: He needs more awareness training than anyone.
For an organization to achieve the desired results of its security program, it must
communicate the what, how, and why of security to its employees. Security-awareness
training should be comprehensive, tailored for specific groups, and organization-wide.
It should repeat the most important messages in different formats; be kept up-to-date;
be entertaining, positive, and humorous; be simple to understand; and—most important—be supported by senior management. Management must allocate the resources
for this activity and enforce its attendance within the organization.
The goal is for each employee to understand the importance of security to the company as a whole and to each individual. Expected responsibilities and acceptable behaviors must be clarified, and noncompliance repercussions, which could range from a
warning to dismissal, must be explained before being invoked. Security-awareness
training is performed to modify employees’ behavior and attitude toward security. This
can best be achieved through a formalized process of security-awareness training.
Because security is a topic that can span many different aspects of an organization,
it can be difficult to communicate the correct information to the right individuals. By
using a formalized process for security-awareness training, you can establish a method
that will provide you with the best results for making sure security requirements are
presented to the right people in an organization. This way you can make sure everyone
understands what is outlined in the organization’s security program, why it is important, and how it fits into the individual’s role in the organization. The higher levels of
training may be more general and deal with broader concepts and goals, and as it
moves down to specific jobs and tasks, the training will become more situation-specific as it directly applies to certain positions within the company.
A security-awareness program is typically created for at least three types of audiences: management, staff, and technical employees. Each type of awareness training
must be geared toward the individual audience to ensure each group understands its
particular responsibilities, liabilities, and expectations. If technical security training
were given to senior management, their eyes would glaze over as soon as protocols and
firewalls were mentioned. On the flip side, if legal ramifications, company liability issues pertaining to protecting data, and shareholders’ expectations were discussed with
the IT group, they would quickly turn to their smart phone and start tweeting, browsing
the Internet, or texting their friends.
Members of management would benefit the most from a short, focused securityawareness orientation that discusses corporate assets and financial gains and losses
pertaining to security. They need to know how stock prices can be negatively affected by
compromises, understand possible threats and their outcomes, and know why security
must be integrated into the environment the same way as other business processes.
Because members of management must lead the rest of the company in support of security, they must gain the right mindset about its importance.
Mid-management would benefit from a more detailed explanation of the policies,
procedures, standards, and guidelines and how they map to the individual departments

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

131
for which they are responsible. Middle managers should be taught why their support for
their specific departments is critical and what their level of responsibility is for ensuring
that employees practice safe computing activities. They should also be shown how the
consequences of noncompliance by individuals who report to them can affect the company as a whole and how they, as managers, may have to answer for such indiscretions.
The technical departments must receive a different presentation that aligns more to
their daily tasks. They should receive a more in-depth training to discuss technical configurations, incident handling, and recognizing different types of security compromises.
It is usually best to have each employee sign a document indicating they have heard
and understand all the security topics discussed, and that they also understand the
ramifications of noncompliance. This reinforces the policies’ importance to the employee and also provides evidence down the road if the employee claims they were
never told of these expectations. Awareness training should happen during the hiring
process and at least annually after that. Attendance of training should also be integrated
into employment performance reports.
Various methods should be employed to reinforce the concepts of security awareness. Things like banners, employee handbooks, and even posters can be used as ways
to remind employees about their duties and the necessities of good security practices.

Degree or Certification?
Some roles within the organization need hands-on experience and skill, meaning that
the hiring manager should be looking for specific industry certifications. Some positions require more of a holistic and foundational understanding of concepts or a business background, and in those cases a degree may be required. Table 2-12 provides
more information on the differences between awareness, training, and education.
Awareness

Training

Education

Attribute

“What”

“How”

“Why”

Level

Information

Knowledge

Insight

Learning
objective

Recognition and
retention

Skill

Understanding

Example teaching
method

Media
• Videos
• Newsletters
• Posters

Practical Instruction
• Lecture and/or demo
• Case study
• Hands-on practice

Theoretical Instruction
• Seminar and
discussion
• Reading and study
• Research

Test measure

True/False, multiple
choice (identify
learning)

Problem solving—i.e.,
recognition and
resolution (apply
learning)

Essay (interpret
learning)

Impact
timeframe

Short-term

Intermediate

Long-term

Table 2-12 Aspects of Awareness, Training, and Education

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

132

Security Governance
Are we doing all this stuff right?
An organization may be following many of the items laid out in this chapter: building
a security program, integrating it into their business architecture, developing a risk management program, documenting the different aspects of the security program, performing
data protection, and training their staff. But how do we know we are doing it all correctly
and on an ongoing basis? This is where security governance comes into play. Security
governance is a framework that allows for the security goals of an organization to be set
and expressed by senior management, communicated throughout the different levels of
the organization, grant power to the entities needed to implement and enforce security,
and provide a way to verify the performance of these necessary security activities. Not
only does senior management need to set the direction of security, it needs a way to be
able to view and understand how their directives are being met or not being met.
If a board of directors and CEO demand that security be integrated properly at all
levels of the organization, how do they know it is really happening? Oversight mechanisms must be developed and integrated so that the people who are ultimately responsible for an organization are constantly and consistently updated on the overall health
and security posture of the organization. This happens through properly defined communication channels, standardized reporting methods, and performance-based metrics.
Let’s compare two companies. Company A has an effective security governance program in place and Company B does not. Now, to the untrained eye it would seem as
though Companies A and B are equal in their security practices because they both have
security policies, procedures, standards, the same security technology controls (firewalls, IDSs, identity management, and so on), security roles are defined, and security
awareness is in place. You may think, “Man, these two companies are on the ball and
quite evolved in their security programs.” But if you look closer, you will see some
critical differences (listed in Table 2-13).
Does the organization you work for look like Company A or Company B? Most organizations today have many of the pieces and parts to a security program (policies, standards, firewalls, security team, IDS, and so on), but management may not be truly involved,
and security has not permeated throughout the organization. Some organizations rely just
on technology and isolate all security responsibilities within the IT group. If security were
just a technology issue, then this security team could properly install, configure, and maintain the products, and the company would get a gold star and pass the audit with flying
colors. But that is not how the world of information security works today. It is much more
than just technological solutions. Security must be utilized throughout the organization,
and having several points of responsibility and accountability is critical. Security governance is a coherent system of integrated processes that helps to ensure consistent oversight, accountability, and compliance. It is a structure that we should put in place to make
sure that our efforts are streamlined and effective and that nothing is being missed.

Metrics
We really can’t just build a security program, call it good, and go home. We need a way
to assess the effectiveness of our work, identify deficiencies, and prioritize the things
that still need work. We need a way to facilitate decision making, performance improve-

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

133
Company A

Company B

Board members understand that information
security is critical to the company and
demand to be updated quarterly on security
performance and breaches.

Board members do not understand that
information security is in their realm of
responsibility and focus solely on corporate
governance and profits.

CEO, CFO, CIO, and business unit managers
participate in a risk management committee
that meets each month, and information
security is always one topic on the agenda to
review.

CEO, CFO, and business unit managers
feel as though information security is the
responsibility of the CIO, CISO, and IT
department and do not get involved.

Executive management sets an acceptable
risk level that is the basis for the company’s
security policies and all security activities.

The CISO took some boilerplate security
policies and inserted his company’s name and
had the CEO sign them.

Executive management holds business unit
managers responsible for carrying out risk
management activities for their specific
business units.

All security activity takes place within the
security department; thus, security works
within a silo and is not integrated throughout
the organization.

Critical business processes are documented
along with the risks that are inherent at the
different steps within the business processes.

Business processes are not documented and
not analyzed for potential risks that can affect
operations, productivity, and profitability.

Employees are held accountable for any
security breaches they participate in, either
maliciously or accidentally.

Policies and standards are developed, but no
enforcement or accountability practices have
been envisioned or deployed.

Security products, managed services, and
consultants are purchased and deployed in
an informed manner. They are also constantly
reviewed to ensure they are cost-effective.

Security products, managed services, and
consultants are purchased and deployed
without any real research or performance
metrics to determine the return on investment
or effectiveness.

The organization is continuing to review its
processes, including security, with the goal of
continued improvement.

The organization does not analyze its
performance for improvement, but continually
marches forward and makes similar mistakes
over and over again.

Table 2-13

Comparison of Company A and Company B

ment, and accountability through collection, analysis, and reporting of the necessary
information. As the saying goes, “You can’t manage something you can’t measure.” In
security there are many items that need to be measured so that performance is properly
understood. We need to know how effective and efficient our security controls are to
not only make sure that assets are properly protected, but also to ensure that we are
being financially responsible in our budgetary efforts.
There are different methodologies that can be followed when it comes to developing security metrics, but no matter what model is followed, some things are critical
across the board. Strong management support is necessary, because while it might seem
that developing ways of counting things is not overly complex, the actual implementation and use of a metric and measuring system can be quite an undertaking. The metrics
have to be developed, adopted, integrated into many different existing and new processes,

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

134

Vision
and
Strategy

Learning and growth
To achieve our
vision, how will
we sustain our
ability to change
and improve?

Figure 2-15 Balanced scorecard

To satisfy our
shareholders, and
customers,
what business
processes must
we excel at?

Me

Internal business

Ob
jec
t
Me ives
asu
r
Tar es
get
s
Init
iati
ves

Me

To achieve our
vision, how
should we
appear to our
customers?

Ob

Customer

jec
tive
s
asu
r
Tar es
get
s
Init
iati
ves

To succeed
financially, how
should we
appear to our
shareholders?

Ob

Financial

jec
tive
s
asu
r
Tar es
get
s
Init
iati
ves

Ob
jec
t
Me ives
asu
r
Tar es
get
s
Init
iati
ves

interpreted, and used in decision-making efforts. Management needs to be on board if
this effort is going to be successful.
Another requirement is that there has to be established policies, procedures, and
standards to measure against. How can you measure policy compliance when there are
no policies in place? A full security program needs to be developed and matured before
attempting to measure its pieces and parts.
Measurement activities need to provide quantifiable performance-based data that is
repeatable, reliable, and produces results that are meaningful. Measurement will need
to happen on a continuous basis, so the data collection methods must be repeatable.
The same type of data must be continuously gathered and compared so that improvement or a drop in improvement can be identified. The data collection may come from
parsing system logs, incident response reports, audit findings, surveys, or risk assessments. The measurement results must also be meaningful for the intended audience.
An executive will want data portrayed in a method that allows him to understand the
health of the security program quickly and in terms he is used to. This can be a heat
map, graph, pie chart, or scorecard. A balanced scorecard, shown in Figure 2-15, is a
traditional strategic tool used for performance measurement in the business world. The
goal is to present the most relevant information quickly and easily. Measurements are
compared with set target values so if performance deviates from expectations, they can
be conveyed in a simplistic and straightforward manner.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

135
If the audience for the measurement values are not executives, but instead security
administrators, then the results are presented in a manner that is easiest for them to
understand and use.
CAUTION This author has seen many scorecards, pie charts, graphics,
and dashboard results that do not map to what is really going on in the
environment. Unless real data is gathered and the correct data is gathered, the
resulting pie chart can illustrate a totally different story than what is really
taking place. Some people spend more time making the colors in the graph
look eye-pleasing instead of perfecting the raw data-gathering techniques. This
can lead to a false sense of security and ultimate breaches.
There are industry best practices that can be used to guide the development of a
security metric and measurement system. The international standard is ISO/IEC
27004:2009, which is used to assess the effectiveness of an ISMS and the controls that
make up the security program as outlined in ISO/IEC 27001. So ISO/IEC 27001 tells
you how to build a security program and then ISO/IEC 27004 tells you how to measure
it. The NIST 800-55 publication also covers performance measuring for information
security, but has a U.S. government slant. The ISO standard and NIST approaches to
metric development are similar, but have some differences. The ISO standard breaks
individual metrics down into base measures, derived measures, and then indicator values. The NIST approach is illustrated in Figure 2-16, which breaks metrics down into
implementation, effectiveness/efficiency, and impact values.
Stakeholders
and interests

Identification and Definitions

Goals and
objectives

Information
security policies,
guideline and
procedures

Information
systems security
program
implementation

Goal/objective
redefinition

Policy
update

Continuous
implementation

Business/
mission impact

Program
results

Level of
implementation

Measures Development and Selection
Business impact
• Business value gained

or lost
• Acceptable loss

estimate

Figure 2-16 Security measurement processes

Effectiveness/efficiency
• Timelessness of security

services delivered
• Operational results

experienced by security
program implementation

Process implementation
• Implementation level of

established security
standards, policies and
procedures

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

136
If your organization has the goal of becoming ISO/IEC 27000 certified, then you
should follow ISO/IEC 27004:2009. If your organization is governmental or a government contracting company, then following the NIST standard would make more sense.
What is important is consistency. For metrics to be used in a successful manner, they
have to be standardized and have a direct relationship to each other. For example, if an
organization used a rating system of 1–10 to measure incident response processes and
a rating system of High, Medium, and Low to measure malware infection protection
mechanisms, these metrics could not be integrated easily. An organization needs to
establish the metric value types it will use and implement them in a standardized method across the enterprise. Measurement processes need to be thought through at a detailed level before attempting implementation. Table 2-14 illustrates a metric template
that can be used to track incident response performance levels.
The types of metrics that are developed need to map to the maturity level of the
security program. In the beginning simplistic items are measured (i.e., number of completed policies), and as the program matures the metrics mature and can increase in
complexity (i.e., number of vulnerabilities mitigated).
The use of metrics allows an organization to truly understand the health of their
security program because each activity and initiative can be measured in a quantifiable
manner. The metrics are used in governing activities because this allows for the best
strategic decisions to be made. The use of metrics also allows the organization to implement and follow the capability maturity model described earlier. A maturity model is
used to carry out incremental improvements, and the metric results indicate what needs
to be improved and to what levels. Metrics can also be used in process improvement
models, as in Six Sigma and the measurements of service level targets for ITIL. We don’t
only need to know what to do (implement controls, build a security program), we need
to know how well we did it and how to continuously improve.

Field

Data

Measure ID

Incident Response Measure 1

Goal

Strategic Goal: Make accurate, timely information on the organization’s
programs and services readily available
Information Security Goal:Track, document, and report incidents to
appropriate organizational officials and/or authorities.

Measure

Percentage of incidents reported within required timeframe per
applicable incident category.

Measure Type

Effectiveness

Formula

For each incident category (number of incidents reported on time/
total number of reported incidents) * 100

Target

85%

Table 2-14 Incident Response Measurement Template

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

137
Field

Data

Implementation Evidence

How many incidents were reported during the period of
12 months?
Category 1. Unauthorized Access? ______
Category 2. Denial of Service? _________
Category 3. Malicious Code? __________
Category 4. Improper Usage? __________
Category 5. Access Attempted? ________
How many incidents involved PII?
Of the incidents reported, how many were reported within the
prescribed timeframe for their category?
Category 1. Unauthorized Access? ______
Category 2. Denial of Service? _________
Category 3. Malicious Code? __________
Category 4. Improper Usage? __________
Category 5. Access Attempted? ________
Of the PII incidents reported, how many were reported within the
prescribed timeframe for their category?

Frequency

Collection Frequency: Monthly
Reporting Frequency: Annually

Responsible Parties

CIO, CISO

Data Source

Incident logs, incident tracking database

Reporting Format

Line chart that illustrates individual categories

Table 2-14 Incident Response Measurement Template (continued)

Summary
A security program should address issues from a strategic, tactical, and operational
view, as shown in Figure 2-17. The security program should be integrated at every level
of the enterprise’s architecture. Security management embodies the administrative and
procedural activities necessary to support and protect information and company assets
throughout the enterprise. It includes development and enforcement of security policies and their supporting mechanisms: procedures, standards, baselines, and guidelines. It encompasses enterprise security development, risk management, proper countermeasure selection and implementation, governance, and performance measurement.
Security is a business issue and should be treated as such. It must be properly integrated into the company’s overall business goals and objectives because security issues
can negatively affect the resources the company depends upon. More and more corporations are finding out the price paid when security is not given the proper attention,
support, and funds. This is a wonderful world to live in, but bad things can happen. The
ones who realize this notion not only survive, but also thrive.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

138

Figure 2-17 A complete security program contains many items.

Quick Tips
• The objectives of security are to provide availability, integrity, and
confidentiality protection to data and resources.
• A vulnerability is the absence of or weakness in a control.
• A threat is the possibility that someone or something would exploit a
vulnerability, intentionally or accidentally, and cause harm to an asset.
• A risk is the probability of a threat agent exploiting a vulnerability and the loss
potential from that action.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

139
• A countermeasure, also called a safeguard or control, mitigates the risk.
• A control can be administrative, technical, or physical and can provide
deterrent, preventive, detective, corrective, or recovery protection.
• A compensating control is an alternate control that is put into place because
of financial or business functionality reasons.
• CobiT is a framework of control objectives and allows for IT governance.
• ISO/IEC 27001 is the standard for the establishment, implementation,
control, and improvement of the information security management system.
• The ISO/IEC 27000 series were derived from BS 7799 and are international
best practices on how to develop and maintain a security program.
• Enterprise architecture frameworks are used to develop architectures for
specific stakeholders and present information in views.
• An information security management system (ISMS) is a coherent set of
policies, processes, and systems to manage risks to information assets as
outlined in ISO\IEC 27001.
• Enterprise security architecture is a subset of business architecture and a way
to describe current and future security processes, systems, and subunits to
ensure strategic alignment.
• Blueprints are functional definitions for the integration of technology into
business processes.
• Enterprise architecture frameworks are used to build individual architectures
that best map to individual organizational needs and business drivers.
• Zachman is an enterprise architecture framework, and SABSA is a security
enterprise architecture framework.
• COSO is a governance model used to help prevent fraud within a corporate
environment.
• ITIL is a set of best practices for IT service management.
• Six Sigma is used to identify defects in processes so that the processes can be
improved upon.
• CMMI is a maturity model that allows for processes to improve in an
incremented and standard approach.
• Security enterprise architecture should tie in strategic alignment, business
enablement, process enhancement, and security effectiveness.
• NIST 800-53 uses the following control categories: technical, management,
and operational.
• OCTAVE is a team-oriented risk management methodology that employs
workshops and is commonly used in the commercial sector.
• Security management should work from the top down (from senior
management down to the staff).

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

140
• Risk can be transferred, avoided, reduced, or accepted.
• Threats × vulnerability × asset value = total risk.
• (Threats × vulnerability × asset value) × controls gap = residual risk.
• The main goals of risk analysis are the following: identify assets and assign
values to them, identify vulnerabilities and threats, quantify the impact of
potential threats, and provide an economic balance between the impact of the
risk and the cost of the safeguards.
• Failure Modes and Effect Analysis (FMEA) is a method for determining
functions, identifying functional failures, and assessing the causes of failure
and their failure effects through a structured process.
• A fault tree analysis is a useful approach to detect failures that can take place
within complex environments and systems.
• A quantitative risk analysis attempts to assign monetary values to components
within the analysis.
• A purely quantitative risk analysis is not possible because qualitative items
cannot be quantified with precision.
• Capturing the degree of uncertainty when carrying out a risk analysis
is important, because it indicates the level of confidence the team and
management should have in the resulting figures.
• Automated risk analysis tools reduce the amount of manual work involved in
the analysis. They can be used to estimate future expected losses and calculate
the benefits of different security measures.
• Single loss expectancy × frequency per year = annualized loss expectancy
(SLE × ARO = ALE).
• Qualitative risk analysis uses judgment and intuition instead of numbers.
• Qualitative risk analysis involves people with the requisite experience and
education evaluating threat scenarios and rating the probability, potential
loss, and severity of each threat based on their personal experience.
• The Delphi technique is a group decision method where each group member
can communicate anonymously.
• When choosing the right safeguard to reduce a specific risk, the cost,
functionality, and effectiveness must be evaluated and a cost/benefit analysis
performed.
• A security policy is a statement by management dictating the role security
plays in the organization.
• Procedures are detailed step-by-step actions that should be followed to achieve
a certain task.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

141
• Standards are documents that outline rules that are compulsory in nature and
support the organization’s security policies.
• A baseline is a minimum level of security.
• Guidelines are recommendations and general approaches that provide advice
and flexibility.
• Job rotation is a detective administrative control to detect fraud.
• Mandatory vacations are a detective administrative control type that can help
detect fraudulent activities.
• Separation of duties ensures no single person has total control over a critical
activity or task. It is a preventative administrative control.
• Split knowledge and dual control are two aspects of separation of duties.
• Data owners specify the classification of data, and data custodians implement
and maintain controls to enforce the set classification levels.
• Security has functional requirements, which define the expected behavior
from a product or system, and assurance requirements, which establish
confidence in the implemented products or systems overall.
• Management must define the scope and purpose of security management,
provide support, appoint a security team, delegate responsibility, and review
the team’s findings.
• The risk management team should include individuals from different
departments within the organization, not just technical personnel.
• Social engineering is a nontechnical attack carried out to manipulate a person
into providing sensitive data to an unauthorized individual.
• Personal identification information (PII) is a collection of identity-based data
that can be used in identity theft and financial fraud, and thus must be highly
protected.
• Security governance is a framework that provides oversight, accountability,
and compliance.
• ISO/IEC 27004:2009 is an international standard for information security
measurement management.
• NIST 800-55 is a standard for performance measurement for information
security.

Questions
Please remember that these questions are formatted and asked in a certain way for a
reason. You must remember that the CISSP exam is asking questions at a conceptual
level. Questions may not always have the perfect answer, and the candidate is advised
against always looking for the perfect answer. The candidate should look for the best
answer in the list.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

142
1. Who has the primary responsibility of determining the classification level for
information?
A. The functional manager
B. Senior management
C. The owner
D. The user
2. If different user groups with different security access levels need to access the
same information, which of the following actions should management take?
A. Decrease the security level on the information to ensure accessibility and
usability of the information.
B. Require specific written approval each time an individual needs to access
the information.
C. Increase the security controls on the information.
D. Decrease the classification label on the information.
3. What should management consider the most when classifying data?
A. The type of employees, contractors, and customers who will be accessing
the data
B. Availability, integrity, and confidentiality
C. Assessing the risk level and disabling countermeasures
D. The access controls that will be protecting the data
4. Who is ultimately responsible for making sure data is classified and protected?
A. Data owners
B. Users
C. Administrators
D. Management
5. Which factor is the most important item when it comes to ensuring security is
successful in an organization?
A. Senior management support
B. Effective controls and implementation methods
C. Updated and relevant security policies and procedures
D. Security awareness by all employees
6. When is it acceptable to not take action on an identified risk?
A. Never. Good security addresses and reduces all risks.
B. When political issues prevent this type of risk from being addressed.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

143
C. When the necessary countermeasure is complex.
D. When the cost of the countermeasure outweighs the value of the asset and
potential loss.
7. Which is the most valuable technique when determining if a specific security
control should be implemented?
A. Risk analysis
B. Cost/benefit analysis
C. ALE results
D. Identifying the vulnerabilities and threats causing the risk
8. Which best describes the purpose of the ALE calculation?
A. Quantifies the security level of the environment
B. Estimates the loss possible for a countermeasure
C. Quantifies the cost/benefit result
D. Estimates the loss potential of a threat in a span of a year
9. The security functionality defines the expected activities of a security
mechanism, and assurance defines which of the following?
A. The controls the security mechanism will enforce
B. The data classification after the security mechanism has been implemented
C. The confidence of the security the mechanism is providing
D. The cost/benefit relationship
10. How do you calculate residual risk?
A. Threats × risks × asset value
B. (Threats × asset value × vulnerability) × risks
C. SLE × frequency = ALE
D. (Threats × vulnerability × asset value) × controls gap
11. Why should the team that will perform and review the risk analysis
information be made up of people in different departments?
A. To make sure the process is fair and that no one is left out.
B. It shouldn’t. It should be a small group brought in from outside the
organization because otherwise the analysis is biased and unusable.
C. Because people in different departments understand the risks of their
department. Thus, it ensures the data going into the analysis is as close to
reality as possible.
D. Because the people in the different departments are the ones causing the
risks, so they should be the ones held accountable.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

144
12. Which best describes a quantitative risk analysis?
A. A scenario-based analysis to research different security threats
B. A method used to apply severity levels to potential loss, probability of loss,
and risks
C. A method that assigns monetary values to components in the risk
assessment
D. A method that is based on gut feelings and opinions
13. Why is a truly quantitative risk analysis not possible to achieve?
A. It is possible, which is why it is used.
B. It assigns severity levels. Thus, it is hard to translate into monetary values.
C. It is dealing with purely quantitative elements.
D. Quantitative measures must be applied to qualitative elements.
14. What is CobiT and where does it fit into the development of information
security systems and security programs?
A. Lists of standards, procedures, and policies for security program development
B. Current version of ISO 17799
C. A framework that was developed to deter organizational internal fraud
D. Open standards for control objectives
15. What are the four domains that make up CobiT?
A. Plan and Organize, Acquire and Implement, Deliver and Support, and
Monitor and Evaluate
B. Plan and Organize, Maintain and Implement, Deliver and Support, and
Monitor and Evaluate
C. Plan and Organize, Acquire and Implement, Support and Purchase, and
Monitor and Evaluate
D. Acquire and Implement, Deliver and Support, and Monitor and Evaluate
16. What is the ISO/IEC 27799 standard?
A. A standard on how to protect personal health information
B. The new version of BS 17799
C. Definitions for the new ISO 27000 series
D. The new version of NIST 800-60
17. CobiT was developed from the COSO framework. What are COSO’s main
objectives and purpose?
A. COSO is a risk management approach that pertains to control objectives
and IT business processes.
B. Prevention of a corporate environment that allows for and promotes
financial fraud.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

145
C. COSO addresses corporate culture and policy development.
D. COSO is risk management system used for the protection of federal
systems.
18. OCTAVE, NIST 800-30, and AS/NZS 4360 are different approaches to carrying
out risk management within companies and organizations. What are the
differences between these methods?
A. NIST 800-30 and OCTAVE are corporate based, while AS/NZS is
international.
B. NIST 800-30 is IT based, while OCTAVE and AS/NZS 4360 are corporate
based.
C. AS/NZS is IT based, and OCTAVE and NIST 800-30 are assurance based.
D. NIST 800-30 and AS/NZS are corporate based, while OCTAVE is
international.
Use the following scenario to answer Questions 19–21. A server that houses sensitive data
has been stored in an unlocked room for the last few years at Company A. The door to
the room has a sign on the door that reads “Room 1.” This sign was placed on the door
with the hope that people would not look for important servers in this room. Realizing
this is not optimum security, the company has decided to install a reinforced lock and
server cage for the server and remove the sign. They have also hardened the server’s
configuration and employed strict operating system access controls.
19. The fact that the server has been in an unlocked room marked “Room 1” for
the last few years means the company was practicing which of the following?
A. Logical security
B. Risk management
C. Risk transference
D. Security through obscurity
20. The new reinforced lock and cage serve as which of the following?
A. Logical controls
B. Physical controls
C. Administrative controls
D. Compensating controls
21. The operating system access controls comprise which of the following?
A. Logical controls
B. Physical controls
C. Administrative controls
D. Compensating controls

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

146
Use the following scenario to answer Questions 22–24. A company has an e-commerce
website that carries out 60 percent of its annual revenue. Under the current circumstances, the annualized loss expectancy for a website against the threat of attack is
$92,000. After implementing a new application-layer firewall, the new annualized loss
expectancy would be $30,000. The firewall costs $65,000 per year to implement and
maintain.
22. How much does the firewall save the company in loss expenses?
A. $62,000
B. $3,000
C. $65,000
D. $30,000
23. What is the value of the firewall to the company?
A. $62,000
B. $3,000
C. –$62,000
D. –$3,000
24. Which of the following describes the company’s approach to risk
management?
A. Risk transference
B. Risk avoidance
C. Risk acceptance
D. Risk mitigation
Use the following scenario to answer Questions 25–27. A small remote office for a company
is valued at $800,000. It is estimated, based on historical data, that a fire is likely to
occur once every ten years at a facility in this area. It is estimated that such a fire would
destroy 60 percent of the facility under the current circumstances and with the current
detective and preventative controls in place.
25. What is the Single Loss Expectancy (SLE) for the facility suffering from a fire?
A. $80,000
B. $480,000
C. $320,000
D. 60%
26. What is the Annualized Rate of Occurrence (ARO)?
A. 1
B. 10
C. .1
D. .01

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

147
27. What is the Annualized Loss Expectancy (ALE)?
A. $480,000
B. $32,000
C. $48,000
D. .6
28. The international standards bodies ISO and IEC developed a series of standards
that are used in organizations around the world to implement and maintain
information security management systems. The standards were derived from
the British Standard 7799, which was broken down into two main pieces.
Organizations can use this series of standards as guidelines, but can also be
certified against them by accredited third parties. Which of the following are
incorrect mappings pertaining to the individual standards that make up the
ISO/IEC 27000 series?
i. ISO/IEC 27001 outlines ISMS implementation guidelines, and ISO/IEC
27003 outlines the ISMS program’s requirements.
ii. ISO/IEC 27005 outlines the audit and certification guidance, and ISO/IEC
27002 outlines the metrics framework.
iii. ISO/IEC 27006 outlines the program implementation guidelines, and
ISO/IEC 27005 outlines risk management guidelines.
iv. ISO/IEC 27001 outlines the code of practice, and ISO/IEC 27004 outlines
the implementation framework.
A. i, iii
B. i, ii
C. ii, iii, iv
D. i, ii, iii, iv
29. The information security industry is made up of various best practices,
standards, models, and frameworks. Some were not developed first with security
in mind, but can be integrated into an organizational security program to help
in its effectiveness and efficiency. It is important to know of all of these different
approaches so that an organization can choose the ones that best fit its business
needs and culture. Which of the following best describes the approach(es) that
should be put into place if an organization wants to integrate a way to improve
its security processes over a period of time?
i. Information Technology Infrastructure Library should be integrated
because it allows for the mapping of IT service process management,
business drivers, and security improvement.
ii. Six Sigma should be integrated because it allows for the defects of security
processes to be identified and improved upon.
iii. Capability Maturity Model should be integrated because it provides
distinct maturity levels.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

148
iv. The Open Group Architecture Framework should be integrated because it
provides a structure for process improvement.
A. i, iii
B. ii, iii, iv
C. ii, iii
D. ii, iv
Use the following scenario to answer Questions 30–32. Todd is a new security manager and
has the responsibility of implementing personnel security controls within the financial
institution where he works. Todd knows that many employees do not fully understand
how their actions can put the institution at risk; thus, an awareness program needs to be
developed. He has determined that the bank tellers need to get a supervisory override
when customers have checks over $3,500 that need to be cashed. He has also uncovered
that some employees have stayed in their specific positions within the company for over
three years. Todd would like to be able to investigate some of the bank’s personnel activities to see if any fraudulent activities have taken place. Todd is already ensuring that
two people must use separate keys at the same time to open the bank vault.
30. Todd documents several fraud opportunities that the employees have at the
financial institution so that management understands these risks and allocates
the funds and resources for his suggested solutions. Which of the following
best describes the control Todd should put into place to be able to carry out
fraudulent investigation activity?
A. Separation of duties
B. Rotation of duties
C. Mandatory vacations
D. Split knowledge
31. If the financial institution wants to force collusion to take place for fraud to
happen successfully in this situation, what should Todd put into place?
A. Separation of duties
B. Rotation of duties
C. Social engineering
D. Split knowledge
32. Todd wants to be able to prevent fraud from taking place, but he knows that
some people may get around the types of controls he puts into place. In
those situations he wants to be able to identify when an employee is doing
something suspicious. Which of the following incorrectly describes what Todd
is implementing in this scenario and what those specific controls provide?
A. Separation of duties by ensuring that a supervisor must approve the
cashing of a check over $3,500. This is an administrative control that
provides preventative protection for Todd’s organization.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

149
B. Rotation of duties by ensuring that one employee only stays in one position
for up to three months of a time. This is an administrative control that
provides detective capabilities.
C. Security awareness training, which is a preventive administrative control
that can also emphasize enforcement.
D. Dual control, which is an administrative detective control that can ensure
that two employees must carry out a task simultaneously.
Use the following scenario to answer Questions 33–35. Sam has just been hired as the new
security officer for a pharmaceutical company. The company has experienced many
data breaches and has charged Sam with ensuring that the company is better protected.
The company currently has the following classifications in place: public, confidential,
and secret. There is a data classification policy that outlines the classification scheme
and the definitions for each classification, but there is no supporting documentation
that the technical staff can follow to know how to meet these goals. The company has
no data loss prevention controls in place and only conducts basic security awareness
training once a year. Talking to the business unit managers, he finds out that only half
of them even know where the company’s policies are located and none of them know
their responsibilities pertaining to classifying data.
33. Which of the following best describes what Sam should address first in this
situation?
A. Integrate data protection roles and responsibilities within the security
awareness training and require everyone to attend it within the
next 15 days.
B. Review the current classification policies to ensure that they properly
address the company’s risks.
C. Meet with senior management and get permission to enforce data owner
tasks for each business unit manager.
D. Audit all of the current data protection controls in place to get a firm
understanding of what vulnerabilities reside in the environment.
34. Sam needs to get senior management to assign the responsibility of protecting
specific data sets to the individual business unit managers, thus making them
data owners. Which of the following would be the most important in the
criteria the managers would follow in the process of actually classifying data
once this responsibility has been assigned to them?
A. Usefulness of the data
B. Age of the data
C. Value of the data
D. Compliance requirements of the data

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

150
35. From this scenario, what has the company accomplished so far?
A. Implementation of administrative controls
B. Implementation of operational controls
C. Implementation of physical controls
D. Implementation of logical controls
Use the following scenario to answer Questions 36–38. Susan has been told by her boss that
she will be replacing the current security manager within her company. Her boss explained to her that operational security measures have not been carried out in a standard fashion, so some systems have proper security configurations and some do not.
Her boss needs to understand how dangerous it is to have some of the systems misconfigured along with what to do in this situation.
36. Which of the following best describes what Susan needs to ensure the
operations staff creates for proper configuration standardization?
A. Dual control
B. Redundancy
C. Training
D. Baselines
37. Which of the following is the best way to illustrate to her boss the dangers of
the current configuration issues?
A. Map the configurations to the compliancy requirements.
B. Compromise a system to illustrate its vulnerability.
C. Audit the systems.
D. Carry out a risk assessment.
38. Which of the following is one of the most likely solutions that Susan will
come up with and present to her boss?
A. Development of standards
B. Development of training
C. Development of monitoring
D. Development of testing

Answers
1. C. A company can have one specific data owner or different data owners who
have been delegated the responsibility of protecting specific sets of data. One
of the responsibilities that goes into protecting this information is properly
classifying it.
2. C. If data is going to be available to a wide range of people, more granular
security should be implemented to ensure that only the necessary people access

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

151
the data and that the operations they carry out are controlled. The security
implemented can come in the form of authentication and authorization
technologies, encryption, and specific access control mechanisms.
3. B. The best answer to this question is B, because to properly classify data,
the data owner must evaluate the availability, integrity, and confidentiality
requirements of the data. Once this evaluation is done, it will dictate which
employees, contractors, and users can access the data, which is expressed in
answer A. This assessment will also help determine the controls that should
be put into place.
4. D. The key to this question is the use of the word “ultimately.” Though
management can delegate tasks to others, it is ultimately responsible for
everything that takes place within a company. Therefore, it must continually
ensure that data and resources are being properly protected.
5. A. Without senior management’s support, a security program will not receive
the necessary attention, funds, resources, and enforcement capabilities.
6. D. Companies may decide to live with specific risks they are faced with if the
cost of trying to protect themselves would be greater than the potential loss
if the threat were to become real. Countermeasures are usually complex to a
degree, and there are almost always political issues surrounding different risks,
but these are not reasons to not implement a countermeasure.
7. B. Although the other answers may seem correct, B is the best answer here.
This is because a risk analysis is performed to identify risks and come up with
suggested countermeasures. The ALE tells the company how much it could
lose if a specific threat became real. The ALE value will go into the cost/benefit
analysis, but the ALE does not address the cost of the countermeasure and the
benefit of a countermeasure. All the data captured in answers A, C, and D are
inserted into a cost/benefit analysis.
8. D. The ALE calculation estimates the potential loss that can affect one asset
from a specific threat within a one-year time span. This value is used to figure
out the amount of money that should be earmarked to protect this asset from
this threat.
9. C. The functionality describes how a mechanism will work and behave. This
may have nothing to do with the actual protection it provides. Assurance
is the level of confidence in the protection level a mechanism will provide.
When systems and mechanisms are evaluated, their functionality and
assurance should be examined and tested individually.
10. D. The equation is more conceptual than practical. It is hard to assign a
number to an individual vulnerability or threat. This equation enables you to
look at the potential loss of a specific asset, as well as the controls gap (what
the specific countermeasure cannot protect against). What remains is the
residual risk, which is what is left over after a countermeasure is implemented.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

152
11. C. An analysis is only as good as the data that go into it. Data pertaining to
risks the company faces should be extracted from the people who understand
best the business functions and environment of the company. Each department
understands its own threats and resources, and may have possible solutions to
specific threats that affect its part of the company.
12. C. A quantitative risk analysis assigns monetary values and percentages to
the different components within the assessment. A qualitative analysis uses
opinions of individuals and a rating system to gauge the severity level of
different threats and the benefits of specific countermeasures.
13. D. During a risk analysis, the team is trying to properly predict the future and
all the risks that future may bring. It is somewhat of a subjective exercise and
requires educated guessing. It is very hard to properly predict that a flood will
take place once in ten years and cost a company up to $40,000 in damages,
but this is what a quantitative analysis tries to accomplish.
14. D. The Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (CobiT)
is a framework developed by the Information Systems Audit and Control
Association (ISACA) and the IT Governance Institute (ITGI). It defines goals
for the controls that should be used to properly manage IT and ensure IT
maps to business needs.
15. A. CobiT has four domains: Plan and Organize, Acquire and Implement,
Deliver and Support, and Monitor and Evaluate. Each category drills down
into subcategories. For example, Acquire and Implement contains the
following subcategories:
• Acquire and Maintain Application Software
• Acquire and Maintain Technology Infrastructure
• Develop and Maintain Procedures
• Install and Accredit Systems
• Manage Changes
16. A. It is referred to as the health informatics, and its purpose is to provide
guidance to health organizations and other holders of personal health
information on how to protect such information via implementation
of ISO/IEC 27002.
17. B. COSO deals more at the strategic level, while CobiT focuses more at the
operational level. CobiT is a way to meet many of the COSO objectives,
but only from the IT perspective. COSO deals with non-IT items also, as
in company culture, financial accounting principles, board of director
responsibility, and internal communication structures. Its main purpose
is to help ensure fraudulent financial reporting cannot take place in an
organization.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

153
18. B. NIST 800-30 Risk Management Guide for Information Technology
Systems is a U.S. federal standard that is focused on IT risks. OCTAVE is a
methodology to set up a risk management program within an organizational
structure. AS/NZS 4360 takes a much broader approach to risk management.
This methodology can be used to understand a company’s financial, capital,
human safety, and business decisions risks. Although it can be used to analyze
security risks, it was not created specifically for this purpose.
19. D. Security through obscurity is not implementing true security controls,
but rather attempting to hide the fact that an asset is vulnerable in the hope
that an attacker will not notice. Security through obscurity is an approach to
try and fool a potential attacker, which is a poor way of practicing security.
Vulnerabilities should be identified and fixed, not hidden.
20. B. Physical controls are security mechanisms in the physical world, as in locks,
fences, doors, computer cages, etc. There are three main control types, which
are administrative, technical, and physical.
21. A. Logical (or technical) controls are security mechanisms, as in firewalls,
encryption, software permissions, and authentication devices. They are
commonly used in tandem with physical and administrative controls to
provide a defense-in-depth approach to security.
22. A. $62,000 is the correct answer. The firewall reduced the annualized loss
expectancy (ALE) from $92,000 to $30,000 for a savings of $62,000. The
formula for ALE is single loss expectancy × annualized rate of occurrence
= ALE. Subtracting the ALE value after the firewall is implemented from the
value before it was implemented results in the potential loss savings this type
of control provides.
23. D. –$3,000 is the correct answer. The firewall saves $62,000, but costs
$65,000 per year. 62,000 – 65,000 = –3,000. The firewall actually costs the
company more than the original expected loss, and thus the value to the
company is a negative number. The formula for this calculation is (ALE before
the control is implemented) – (ALE after the control is implemented) –
(annual cost of control) = value of control.
24. D. Risk mitigation involves employing controls in an attempt to reduce the
either the likelihood or damage associated with an incident, or both. The four
ways of dealing with risk are accept, avoid, transfer, and mitigate (reduce). A
firewall is a countermeasure installed to reduce the risk of a threat.
25. B. $480,000 is the correct answer. The formula for single loss expectancy (SLE)
is asset value × exposure factor (EF) = SLE. In this situation the formula would
work out as asset value ($800,000) × exposure factor (60%) = $480,000. This
means that the company has a potential loss value of $480,000 pertaining to
this one asset (facility) and this one threat type (fire).

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

154
26. C. The annualized rate occurrence (ARO) is the frequency that a threat will
most likely occur within a 12-month period. It is a value used in the ALE
formula, which is SLE × ARO = ALE.
27. C. $48,000 is the correct answer. The annualized loss expectancy formula (SLE
× ARO = ALE) is used to calculate the loss potential for one asset experiencing
one threat in a 12-month period. The resulting ALE value helps to determine
the amount that can be reasonably be spent in the protection of that asset. In
this situation, the company should not spend over $48,000 on protecting this
asset from the threat of fire. ALE values help organizations rank the severity
level of the risks they face so they know which ones to deal with first and how
much to spend on each.
28. D. Unfortunately, you will run into questions on the CISSP exam that will be
this confusing, so you need to be ready for them. The proper mapping for the
ISO/IEC standards are as follows:
• ISO/IEC 27001 ISMS requirements
• ISO/IEC 27002 Code of practice for information security management
• ISO/IEC 27003 Guideline for ISMS implementation
• ISO/IEC 27004 Guideline for information security management
measurement and metrics framework
• ISO/IEC 27005 Guideline for information security risk management
• ISO/IEC 27006 Guidance for bodies providing audit and certification of
information security management systems
29. C. The best process improvement approaches provided in this list are Six
Sigma and the Capability Maturity Model. The following outlines the
definitions for all items in this question:
• TOGAF Model and methodology for the development of enterprise
architectures developed by The Open Group
• ITIL Processes to allow for IT service management developed by the
United Kingdom’s Office of Government Commerce
• Six Sigma Business management strategy that can be used to carry out
process improvement
• Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Organizational
development for process improvement developed by Carnegie Mellon
30. C. Mandatory vacation is an administrative detective control that allows for an
organization to investigate an employee’s daily business activities to uncover
any potential fraud that may be taking place. The employee should be forced
to be away from the organization for a two-week period and another person
put into that role. The idea is that the person who was rotated into that
position may be able to detect suspicious activities.

Chapter 2: Information Security Governance and Risk Management

155
31. A. Separation of duties is an administrative control that is put into place to
ensure that one person cannot carry out a critical task by himself. If a person
were able to carry out a critical task alone, this could put the organization
at risk. Collusion is when two or more people come together to carry out
fraud. So if a task was split between two people, they would have to carry out
collusion (working together) to complete that one task and carry out fraud.
32. D. Dual control is an administrative preventative control. It ensures that
two people must carry out a task at the same time, as in two people having
separate keys when opening the vault. It is not a detective control. Notice
that the question asks what Todd is not doing. Remember that on the exam
you need to choose the best answer. In many situations you will not like
the question or the corresponding answers on the CISSP exam, so prepare
yourself. The questions can be tricky, which is one reason why the exam itself
is so difficult.
33. B. While each answer is a good thing for Sam to carry out, the first thing
that needs to be done is to ensure that the policies properly address data
classification and protection requirements for the company. Policies provide
direction, and all other documents (standards, procedures, guidelines) and
security controls are derived from the policies and support them.
34. C. Data is one of the most critical assets to any organization. The value of the
asset must be understood so that the organization knows which assets require
the most protection. There are many components that go into calculating the
value of an asset: cost of replacement, revenue generated from asset, amount
adversaries would pay for the asset, cost that went into the development of
the asset, productivity costs if asset was absent or destroyed, and liability costs
of not properly protecting the asset. So the data owners need to be able to
determine the value of the data to the organization for proper classification
purposes.
35. A. The company has developed a data classification policy, which is an
administrative control.
36. D. The operations staff needs to know what minimum level of security is
required per system within the network. This minimum level of security is
referred to as a baseline. Once a baseline is set per system, then the staff has
something to compare the system against to know if changes have not taken
place properly, which could make the system vulnerable.
37. D. Susan needs to illustrate these vulnerabilities (misconfigured systems) in
the context of risk to her boss. This means she needs to identify the specific
vulnerabilities, associate threats to those vulnerabilities, and calculate their
risks. This will allow her boss to understand how critical these issues are and
what type of action needs to take place.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

156
38. A. Standards need to be developed that outline proper configuration
management processes and approved baseline configuration settings. Once
these standards are developed and put into place, then employees can be
trained on these issues and how to implement and maintain what is outlined
in the standards. Systems can be tested against what is laid out in the standards,
and systems can be monitored to detect if there are configurations that do not
meet the requirements outlined in the standards. You will find that some CISSP
questions seem subjective and their answers hard to pin down. Questions that
ask what is “best” or “more likely” are common.

CHAPTER

Access Control
This chapter presents the following:
• Identification methods and technologies
• Authentication methods, models, and technologies
• Discretionary, mandatory, and nondiscretionary models
• Accountability, monitoring, and auditing practices
• Emanation security and technologies
• Intrusion detection systems
• Threats to access control practices and technologies

A cornerstone in the foundation of information security is controlling how resources
are accessed so they can be protected from unauthorized modification or disclosure.
The controls that enforce access control can be technical, physical, or administrative in
nature. These control types need to be integrated into policy-based documentation,
software and technology, network design, and physical security components.
Access is one of the most exploited aspects of security, because it is the gateway that
leads to critical assets. Access controls need to be applied in a layered defense-in-depth
method, and an understanding of how these controls are exploited is extremely important. In this chapter we will explore access control conceptually and then dig into the
technologies the industry puts in place to enforce these concepts. We will also look at
the common methods the bad guys use to attack these technologies.

Access Controls Overview
Access controls are security features that control how users and systems communicate and
interact with other systems and resources. They protect the systems and resources from
unauthorized access and can be components that participate in determining the level of
authorization after an authentication procedure has successfully completed. Although
we usually think of a user as the entity that requires access to a network resource or information, there are many other types of entities that require access to other network
entities and resources that are subject to access control. It is important to understand the
definition of a subject and an object when working in the context of access control.
Access is the flow of information between a subject and an object. A subject is an
active entity that requests access to an object or the data within an object. A subject can

157

3

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

158

Figure 3-1 Subjects are active entities that access objects, while objects are passive entities.

be a user, program, or process that accesses an object to accomplish a task. When a
program accesses a file, the program is the subject and the file is the object. An object is
a passive entity that contains information or needed functionality. An object can be a
computer, database, file, computer program, directory, or field contained in a table
within a database. When you look up information in a database, you are the active
subject and the database is the passive object. Figure 3-1 illustrates subjects and objects.
Access control is a broad term that covers several different types of mechanisms that
enforce access control features on computer systems, networks, and information. Access
control is extremely important because it is one of the first lines of defense in battling
unauthorized access to systems and network resources. When a user is prompted for a
username and password to use a computer, this is access control. Once the user logs in
and later attempts to access a file, that file may have a list of users and groups that have
the right to access it. If the user is not on this list, the user is denied. This is another form
of access control. The users’ permissions and rights may be based on their identity, clearance, and/or group membership. Access controls give organizations the ability to control, restrict, monitor, and protect resource availability, integrity, and confidentiality.

Security Principles
The three main security principles for any type of security control are
• Availability
• Integrity
• Confidentiality

Chapter 3: Access Control

159
These principles, which were touched upon in Chapter 2, will be a running theme
throughout this book because each core subject of each chapter approaches these principles in a unique way. In Chapter 2, you read that security management procedures
include identifying threats that can negatively affect the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of the company’s assets and finding cost-effective countermeasures that will
protect them. This chapter looks at the ways the three principles can be affected and
protected through access control methodologies and technologies.
Every control that is used in computer and information security provides at least
one of these security principles. It is critical that security professionals understand all of
the possible ways these principles can be provided and circumvented.

Availability
Hey, I’m available.
Response: But no one wants you.
Information, systems, and resources must be available to users in a timely manner
so productivity will not be affected. Most information must be accessible and available
to users when requested so they can carry out tasks and fulfill their responsibilities. Accessing information does not seem that important until it is inaccessible. Administrators experience this when a file server goes offline or a highly used database is out of
service for one reason or another. Fault tolerance and recovery mechanisms are put into
place to ensure the continuity of the availability of resources. User productivity can be
greatly affected if requested data are not readily available.
Information has various attributes, such as accuracy, relevance, timeliness, and privacy. It may be extremely important for a stockbroker to have information that is accurate and timely, so he can buy and sell stocks at the right times at the right prices. The
stockbroker may not necessarily care about the privacy of this information, only that it
is readily available. A soft drink company that depends on its soda pop recipe would
care about the privacy of this trade secret, and the security mechanisms in place need to
ensure this secrecy.

Integrity
Information must be accurate, complete, and protected from unauthorized modification. When a security mechanism provides integrity, it protects data, or a resource, from
being altered in an unauthorized fashion. If any type of illegitimate modification does
occur, the security mechanism must alert the user or administrator in some manner.
One example is when a user sends a request to her online bank account to pay her
$24.56 water utility bill. The bank needs to be sure the integrity of that transaction was
not altered during transmission, so the user does not end up paying the utility company $240.56 instead. Integrity of data is very important. What if a confidential e-mail
was sent from the secretary of state to the president of the United States and was intercepted and altered without a security mechanism in place that disallows this or alerts
the president that this message has been altered? Instead of receiving a message reading, “We would love for you and your wife to stop by for drinks tonight,” the message
could be altered to say, “We have just bombed Libya.” Big difference.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

160
Confidentiality
This is my secret and you can’t have it.
Response: I don’t want it.
Confidentiality is the assurance that information is not disclosed to unauthorized
individuals, programs, or processes. Some information is more sensitive than other
information and requires a higher level of confidentiality. Control mechanisms need to
be in place to dictate who can access data and what the subject can do with it once they
have accessed it. These activities need to be controlled, audited, and monitored. Examples of information that could be considered confidential are health records, financial account information, criminal records, source code, trade secrets, and military
tactical plans. Some security mechanisms that would provide confidentiality are encryption, logical and physical access controls, transmission protocols, database views,
and controlled traffic flow.
It is important for a company to identify the data that must be classified so the
company can ensure that the top priority of security protects this information and
keeps it confidential. If this information is not singled out, too much time and money
can be spent on implementing the same level of security for critical and mundane information alike. It may be necessary to configure virtual private networks (VPNs) between organizations and use the IPSec encryption protocol to encrypt all messages
passed when communicating about trade secrets, sharing customer information, or
making financial transactions. This takes a certain amount of hardware, labor, funds,
and overhead. The same security precautions are not necessary when communicating
that today’s special in the cafeteria is liver and onions with a roll on the side. So, the
first step in protecting data’s confidentiality is to identify which information is sensitive
and to what degree, and then implement security mechanisms to protect it properly.
Different security mechanisms can supply different degrees of availability, integrity,
and confidentiality. The environment, the classification of the data that is to be protected, and the security goals must be evaluated to ensure the proper security mechanisms are bought and put into place. Many corporations have wasted a lot of time and
money not following these steps and instead buying the new “gee whiz” product that
recently hit the market.

Identification, Authentication, Authorization,
and Accountability
I don’t really care who you are, but come right in.
For a user to be able to access a resource, he first must prove he is who he claims to
be, has the necessary credentials, and has been given the necessary rights or privileges
to perform the actions he is requesting. Once these steps are completed successfully, the
user can access and use network resources; however, it is necessary to track the user’s
activities and enforce accountability for his actions. Identification describes a method
of ensuring that a subject (user, program, or process) is the entity it claims to be. Identification can be provided with the use of a username or account number. To be properly authenticated, the subject is usually required to provide a second piece to the
credential set. This piece could be a password, passphrase, cryptographic key, personal

Chapter 3: Access Control

161
identification number (PIN), anatomical attribute, or token. These two credential items
are compared to information that has been previously stored for this subject. If these
credentials match the stored information, the subject is authenticated. But we are not
done yet.
Once the subject provides its credentials and is properly identified, the system it is
trying to access needs to determine if this subject has been given the necessary rights
and privileges to carry out the requested actions. The system will look at some type of
access control matrix or compare security labels to verify that this subject may indeed
access the requested resource and perform the actions it is attempting. If the system
determines that the subject may access the resource, it authorizes the subject.
Although identification, authentication, authorization, and accountability have close
and complementary definitions, each has distinct functions that fulfill a specific requirement in the process of access control. A user may be properly identified and authenticated to the network, but he may not have the authorization to access the files on the file
server. On the other hand, a user may be authorized to access the files on the file server,
but until she is properly identified and authenticated, those resources are out of reach.
Figure 3-2 illustrates the four steps that must happen for a subject to access an object.
The subject needs to be held accountable for the actions taken within a system or
domain. The only way to ensure accountability is if the subject is uniquely identified
and the subject’s actions are recorded.
Logical access controls are technical tools used for identification, authentication, authorization, and accountability. They are software components that enforce access control measures for systems, programs, processes, and information. The logical access
controls can be embedded within operating systems, applications, add-on security packages, or database and telecommunication management systems. It can be challenging to
synchronize all access controls and ensure all vulnerabilities are covered without producing overlaps of functionality. However, if it were easy, security professionals would
not be getting paid the big bucks!

Race Condition
A race condition is when processes carry out their tasks on a shared resource in an
incorrect order. A race condition is possible when two or more processes use a
shared resource, as in data within a variable. It is important that the processes
carry out their functionality in the correct sequence. If process 2 carried out its
task on the data before process 1, the result will be much different than if process
1 carried out its tasks on the data before process 2.
In software, when the authentication and authorization steps are split into
two functions, there is a possibility an attacker could use a race condition to force
the authorization step to be completed before the authentication step. This would
be a flaw in the software that the attacker has figured out how to exploit. A race
condition occurs when two or more processes use the same resource and the sequences of steps within the software can be carried out in an improper order,
something that can drastically affect the output. So, an attacker can force the authorization step to take place before the authentication step and gain unauthorized access to a resource.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

162

Figure 3-2 Four steps must happen for a subject to access an object: identification, authentication,
authorization, and accountability.

NOTE The words “logical” and “technical” can be used interchangeably in
this context. It is conceivable that the CISSP exam would refer to logical and
technical controls interchangeably.
An individual’s identity must be verified during the authentication process. Authentication usually involves a two-step process: entering public information (a username,
employee number, account number, or department ID), and then entering private information (a static password, smart token, cognitive password, one-time password, or
PIN). Entering public information is the identification step, while entering private information is the authentication step of the two-step process. Each technique used for
identification and authentication has its pros and cons. Each should be properly evaluated to determine the right mechanism for the correct environment.

Identification and Authentication
Now, who are you again?
Once a person has been identified through the user ID or a similar value, she must
be authenticated, which means she must prove she is who she says she is. Three general
factors can be used for authentication: something a person knows, something a person
has, and something a person is. They are also commonly called authentication by knowledge, authentication by ownership, and authentication by characteristic.

Chapter 3: Access Control

163
Verification 1:1 is the measurement of an identity against a single claimed identity. The conceptual question is, “Is this person who he claims to be?” So if Bob
provides his identity and credential set, this information is compared to the data
kept in an authentication database. If they match, we know that it is really Bob. If
the identification is 1:N (many), the measurement of a single identity is compared against multiple identities. The conceptual question is, “Who is this person?” An example is if fingerprints were found at a crime scene, the cops would
run them through their database to identify the suspect.

Something a person knows (authentication by knowledge) can be, for example, a
password, PIN, mother’s maiden name, or the combination to a lock. Authenticating a
person by something that she knows is usually the least expensive to implement. The
downside to this method is that another person may acquire this knowledge and gain
unauthorized access to a resource.
Something a person has (authentication by ownership) can be a key, swipe card,
access card, or badge. This method is common for accessing facilities, but could also be
used to access sensitive areas or to authenticate systems. A downside to this method is
that the item can be lost or stolen, which could result in unauthorized access.
Something specific to a person (authentication by characteristic) becomes a bit
more interesting. This is not based on whether the person is a Republican, a Martian,
or a moron—it is based on a physical attribute. Authenticating a person’s identity based
on a unique physical attribute is referred to as biometrics. (For more information, see
the upcoming section, “Biometrics.”)
Strong authentication contains two out of these three methods: something a person
knows, has, or is. Using a biometric system by itself does not provide strong authentication because it provides only one out of the three methods. Biometrics supplies what a
person is, not what a person knows or has. For a strong authentication process to be in
place, a biometric system needs to be coupled with a mechanism that checks for one of
the other two methods. For example, many times the person has to type a PIN number
into a keypad before the biometric scan is performed. This satisfies the “what the person knows” category. Conversely, the person could be required to swipe a magnetic
card through a reader prior to the biometric scan. This would satisfy the “what the
person has” category. Whatever identification system is used, for strong authentication
to be in the process, it must include two out of the three categories. This is also referred
to as two-factor authentication.
NOTE Strong authentication is also sometimes referred to as multiauthentication, which just means that more than one authentication
method is used. Three-factor authentication is possible, which includes
all authentication approaches.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

164
Identity is a complicated concept with many varied nuances, ranging from the philosophical to the practical. A person can have multiple digital identities. For example, a
user can be JPublic in a Windows domain environment, JohnP on a Unix server,
JohnPublic on the mainframe, JJP in instant messaging, JohnCPublic in the certification authority, and IWearPanties on Facebook. If a company would want to centralize
all of its access control, these various identity names for the same person may put the
security administrator into a mental health institution.
Creating or issuing secure identities should include three key aspects: uniqueness,
nondescriptive, and issuance. The first, uniqueness, refers to the identifiers that are
specific to an individual, meaning every user must have a unique ID for accountability.
Things like fingerprints and retina scans can be considered unique elements in determining identity. Nondescriptive means that neither piece of the credential set should
indicate the purpose of that account. For example, a user ID should not be “administrator,” “backup_operator,” or “CEO.” The third key aspect in determining identity is issuance. These elements are the ones that have been provided by another authority as a
means of proving identity. ID cards are a kind of security element that would be considered an issuance form of identification.
NOTE Mutual authentication is when the two communicating entities must
authenticate to each other before passing data. An authentication server may
be required to authenticate to a user’s system before allowing data to flow
back and forth.
While most of this chapter deals with user authentication, it is important to realize
system-based authentication is possible also. Computers and devices can be identified,
authenticated, monitored, and controlled based upon their hardware addresses (media
access control) and/or Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Networks may have network
access control (NAC) technology that authenticates systems before they are allowed access to the network. Every network device has a hardware address that is integrated into
its network interface card and a software-based address (IP), which either is assigned by
a DHCP server or locally configured. We will cover DHCP, IP, and MAC addresses more
in Chapter 6.

Identification Component Requirements
When issuing identification values to users, the following should be in place:
• Each value should be unique, for user accountability.
• A standard naming scheme should be followed.
• The value should be nondescriptive of the user’s position or tasks.
• The value should not be shared between users.

Chapter 3: Access Control

165
CAUTION In technology there are overlapping acronyms. In the CISSP exam
you will run into at least three different MAC acronyms. Media access control =
data link layer functionality and address type within a network protocol stack.
Mandatory access control = access control model integrated in software used
to control subject-to-object access functions through the use of clearance,
classifications, and labels. Message authentication code = cryptographic function
that uses a hashing algorithm and symmetric key for data integrity and system
origin functions. The CISSP exam does not use acronyms by themselves, but
spells the terms out so this should not be a problem on the exam.

Identity Management
I configured our system to only allow access to tall people.
Response: Short people are pretty sneaky.
Identity management is a broad and loaded term that encompasses the use of different products to identify, authenticate, and authorize users through automated means. To
many people, the term also includes user account management, access control, password management, single sign-on functionality, managing rights and permissions for
user accounts, and auditing and monitoring all of these items. The reason that individuals, and companies, have different definitions and perspectives of identity management
(IdM) is because it is so large and encompasses so many different technologies and
processes. Remember the story of the four blind men who are trying to describe an elephant? One blind man feels the tail and announces, “It’s a tail.” Another blind man feels
the trunk and announces, “It’s a trunk.” Another announces it’s a leg, and another announces it’s an ear. This is because each man cannot see or comprehend the whole of the
large creature—just the piece he is familiar with and knows about. This analogy can be
applied to IdM because it is large and contains many components and many people may
not comprehend the whole—only the component they work with and understand.
It is important for security professionals to understand not only the whole of IdM,
but understand the technologies that make up a full enterprise IdM solution. IdM requires management of uniquely identified entities, their attributes, credentials, and entitlements. IdM allows organizations to create and manage digital identities’ life cycles
(create, maintain, terminate) in a timely and automated fashion. The enterprise IdM
must meet business needs and scale from internally facing systems to externally facing
systems. In this section, we will be covering many of these technologies and how they
work together.
Selling identity management products is now a flourishing market that focuses on
reducing administrative costs, increasing security, meeting regulatory compliance, and
improving upon service levels throughout enterprises. The continual increase in complexity and diversity of networked environments only increases the complexity of keeping track of who can access what and when. Organizations have different types of
applications, network operating systems, databases, enterprise resource management
(ERM) systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, directories, mainframes—all used for different business purposes. Then the organizations have partners,

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

166
Access Control Review
The following is a review of the basic concepts in access control:
• Identification
• Subjects supplying identification information
• Username, user ID, account number
• Authentication
• Verifying the identification information
• Passphrase, PIN value, biometric, one-time password, password
• Authorization
• Using criteria to make a determination of operations that subjects
can carry out on objects
• “I know who you are, now what am I going to allow you to do?”
• Accountability
• Audit logs and monitoring to track subject activities with objects

contractors, consultants, employees, and temporary employees. (Figure 3-3 actually
provides a simplistic view of most environments.) Users usually access several different
types of systems throughout their daily tasks, which makes controlling access and
providing the necessary level of protection on different data types difficult and full of
obstacles. This complexity usually results in unforeseen and unidentified holes in asset
protection, overlapping and contradictory controls, and policy and regulation noncompliance. It is the goal of identity management technologies to simplify the administration of these tasks and bring order to chaos.
The following are many of the common questions enterprises deal with today in
controlling access to assets:
• What should each user have access to?
• Who approves and allows access?
• How do the access decisions map to policies?
• Do former employees still have access?
• How do we keep up with our dynamic and ever-changing environment?
• What is the process of revoking access?
• How is access controlled and monitored centrally?
• Why do employees have eight passwords to remember?

Chapter 3: Access Control

167

Figure 3-3 Most environments are chaotic in terms of access.

• We have five different operating platforms. How do we centralize access when
each platform (and application) requires its own type of credential set?
• How do we control access for our employees, customers, and partners?
• How do we make sure we are compliant with the necessary regulations?
• Where do I send in my resignation? I quit.
The traditional identity management process has been manual, using directory services with permissions, access control lists (ACLs), and profiles. This approach has
proven incapable of keeping up with complex demands and thus has been replaced
with automated applications rich in functionality that work together to create an identity management infrastructure. The main goals of identity management (IdM) technologies are to streamline the management of identity, authentication, authorization,
and the auditing of subjects on multiple systems throughout the enterprise. The sheer
diversity of a heterogeneous enterprise makes proper implementation of IdM a huge
undertaking.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

168
Many identity management solutions and products are available in the marketplace. For the CISSP exam, the following are the types of technologies you should be
aware of:
• Directories
• Web access management
• Password management
• Legacy single sign-on
• Account management
• Profile update
Directories We should have a standardized and automated way of naming stuff and
controlling access to it.
Most enterprises have some type of directory that contains information pertaining
to the company’s network resources and users. Most directories follow a hierarchical
database format, based on the X.500 standard, and a type of protocol, as in Lightweight
Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), that allows subjects and applications to interact with
the directory. Applications can request information about a particular user by making
an LDAP request to the directory, and users can request information about a specific
resource by using a similar request.
The objects within the directory are managed by a directory service. The directory
service allows an administrator to configure and manage how identification, authentication, authorization, and access control take place within the network and on individual
systems. The objects within the directory are labeled and identified with namespaces.
In a Windows environment, when you log in, you are logging in to a domain controller (DC), which has a hierarchical directory in its database. The database is running
a directory service (Active Directory), which organizes the network resources and carries
out user access control functionality. So once you successfully authenticate to the DC,
certain network resources will be available to you (print service, file server, e-mail server, and so on) as dictated by the configuration of AD.
How does the directory service keep all of these entities organized? By using
namespaces. Each directory service has a way of identifying and naming the objects they
will manage. In databases based on the X.500 standard that are accessed by LDAP, the
directory service assigns distinguished names (DNs) to each object. Each DN represents
a collection of attributes about a specific object, and is stored in the directory as an
entry. In the following example, the DN is made up of a common name (cn) and domain components (dc). Since this is a hierarchical directory, .com is the top, LogicalSecurity is one step down from .com, and Shon is at the bottom (where she belongs).
dn: cn=Shon Harris,dc=LogicalSecurity,dc=com
cn: Shon Harris

This is a very simplistic example. Companies usually have
large trees (directories) containing many levels and objects to
represent different departments, roles, users, and resources.

Chapter 3: Access Control

169
A directory service manages the entries and data in the directory and also enforces
the configured security policy by carrying out access control and identity management
functions. For example, when you log in to the DC, the directory service (AD) will determine what resources you can and cannot access on the network.
NOTE We touch on directory services again in the “Single Sign-on” section
of this chapter.

So are there any problems with using a directory product for identity management
and access control? Yes, there’s always something. Many legacy devices and applications
cannot be managed by the directory service because they were not built with the necessary client software. The legacy entities must be managed through their inherited management software. This means that most networks have subjects, services, and resources
that can be listed in a directory and controlled centrally by an administrator through
the use of a directory service. Then there are legacy applications and devices that the
administrator must configure and manage individually.
Directories’ Role in Identity Management A directory used for IdM is specialized database software that has been optimized for reading and searching operations. It is the main component of an identity management solution. This is because all
resource information, users’ attributes, authorization profiles, roles, access control policies, and more are stored in this one location. When other IdM software applications
need to carry out their functions (authorization, access control, assigning permissions),
they now have a centralized location for all of the information they need.
As an analogy, let’s say I’m a store clerk and you enter my store to purchase alcohol.
Instead of me having to find a picture of you somewhere to validate your identity, go to
another place to find your birth certificate to obtain your true birth date, and find proof
of which state you are registered in, I can look in one place—your driver’s license. The
directory works in the same way. Some IdM applications may need to know a user’s
authorization rights, role, employee status, or clearance level, so instead of this application having to make requests to several databases and other applications, it makes its
request to this one directory.
A lot of the information stored in an IdM directory is scattered throughout the enterprise. User attribute information (employee status, job description, department, and
so on) is usually stored in the HR database, authentication information could be in a
Kerberos server, role and group identification information might be in a SQL database,
and resource-oriented authentication information is stored in Active Directory on a
domain controller. These are commonly referred to as identity stores and are located in
different places on the network. Something nifty that many identity management products do is create meta-directories or virtual directories. A meta-directory gathers the necessary information from multiple sources and stores it in one central directory. This
provides a unified view of all users’ digital identity information throughout the enterprise. The meta-directory synchronizes itself with all of the identity stores periodically
to ensure the most up-to-date information is being used by all applications and IdM
components within the enterprise.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

170
Organizing All of This Stuff
In a database directory based on the X.500 standard, the following rules are used
for object organization:
• The directory has a tree structure to organize the entries using a parentchild configuration.
• Each entry has a unique name made up of attributes of a specific object.
• The attributes used in the directory are dictated by the defined schema.
• The unique identifiers are called distinguished names.
The schema describes the directory structure and what names can be used
within the directory, among other things. (Schema and database components are
covered more in depth in Chapter 10.)
The following diagram shows how an object (Kathy Conlon) can have the
attributes of ou=General ou=NCTSW ou=pentagon ou=locations ou=Navy
ou=DoD ou=U.S. Government C=US.

Note that OU stands for organizational unit. They are used as containers of
other similar OUs, users, and resources. They provide the parent-child (sometimes called tree-leaf) organization structure.

Chapter 3: Access Control

171
A virtual directory plays the same role and can be used instead of a meta-directory.
The difference between the two is that the meta-directory physically has the identity
data in its directory, whereas a virtual directory does not and points to where the actual
data reside. When an IdM component makes a call to a virtual directory to gather identity information on a user, the virtual directory will point to where the information
actually lives.
Figure 3-4 illustrates a central LDAP directory that is used by the IdM services: access
management, provisioning, and identity management. When one of these services accepts a request from a user or application, it pulls the necessary data from the directory
to be able to fulfill the request. Since the data needed to properly fulfill these requests
are stored in different locations, the metadata directory pulls the data from these other
sources and updates the LDAP directory.
Web Access Management Web access management (WAM) software controls
what users can access when using a web browser to interact with web-based enterprise
assets. This type of technology is continually becoming more robust and experiencing
increased deployment. This is because of the increased use of e-commerce, online
banking, content providing, web services, and more. The Internet only continues to
grow, and its importance to businesses and individuals increases as more and more
functionality is provided. We just can’t seem to get enough of it.
Figure 3-5 shows the basic components and activities in a web access control management process.
1. User sends in credentials to web server.
2. Web server validates user’s credentials.
3. User requests to access a resource (object).

Figure 3-4 Meta-directories pull data from other sources to populate the IdM directory.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

172
4. Web server verifies with the security policy to determine if the user is allowed
to carry out this operation.
5. Web server allows access to the requested resource.
This is a simple example. More complexity comes in with all the different ways a
user can authenticate (password, digital certificate, token, and others); the resources
and services that may be available to the user (transfer funds, purchase product, update
profile, and so forth); and the necessary infrastructure components. The infrastructure
is usually made up of a web server farm (many servers), a directory that contains the
users’ accounts and attributes, a database, a couple of firewalls, and some routers, all
laid out in a tiered architecture. But let’s keep it simple right now.
The WAM software is the main gateway between users and the corporate web-based
resources. It is commonly a plug-in for a web server, so it works as a front-end process.
When a user makes a request for access, the web server software will query a directory,
an authentication server, and potentially a back-end database before serving up the resource the user requested. The WAM console allows the administrator to configure access levels, authentication requirements, and account setup workflow steps, and to
perform overall maintenance.
WAM tools usually also provide a single sign-on capability so that once a user is
authenticated at a web site, she can access different web-based applications and resources without having to log in multiple times. When a product provides a single sign-on
capability in a web environment, the product must keep track of the user’s authentication state and security context as the user moves from one resource to the next.
For example, if Kathy logs on to her online bank web site, the communication is
taking place over the HTTP protocol. This protocol itself is stateless, which means it will
allow a web server to pass the user a web page and the user is forgotten about. Many
web servers work in a stateless mode because they have so many requests to fulfill and
they are just providing users with web pages. Keeping a constant session with each and

Figure 3-5 A basic example of web access control

Chapter 3: Access Control

173
every user who is requesting to see a web page would exhaust the web server’s resources.
When a user has to log on to a web site is when “keeping the user’s state” is required
and a continuous session is needed.
When Kathy first goes to her bank’s web site, she is viewing publicly available data
that do not require her to authenticate before viewing. A constant session is not being
kept by the web server, thus it is working in a stateless manner. Once she clicks Access
My Account, the web server sets up a secure connection (SSL) with her browser and
requests her credentials. After she is authenticated, the web server sends a cookie (small
text file) that indicates she has authenticated properly and the type of access she should
be allowed. When Kathy requests to move from her savings account to her checking
account, the web server will assess the cookie on Kathy’s web browser to see if she has
the rights to access this new resource. The web server continues to check this cookie
during Kathy’s session to ensure no one has hijacked the session and that the web
server is continually communicating with Kathy’s system and not someone else’s.
The web server continually asks Kathy’s web browser to prove she has been authenticated, which the browser does by providing the cookie information. (The cookie information could include her password, account number, security level, browsing habits,
and/or personalization information.) As long as Kathy is authenticated, the web server
software will keep track of each of her requests, log her events, and make changes that
she requests that can take place in her security context. Security context is the authorization level she is assigned based on her permissions, entitlements, and access rights.
Once Kathy ends the session, the cookie is usually erased from the web browser’s
memory and the web server no longer keeps this connection open or collects session
state information on this user.
NOTE A cookie can be in the format of a text file stored on the user’s hard
drive (permanent) or it can be only held in memory (session). If the cookie
contains any type of sensitive information, then it should only be held in
memory and be erased once the session has completed.
As an analogy, let’s say I am following you in a mall as you are shopping. I am marking down what you purchase, where you go, and the requests you make. I know everything about your actions; I document them in a log, and remember them as you
continue. (I am keeping state information on you and your activities.) You can have
access to all of these stores if every 15 minutes you show me a piece of paper that I gave
you. If you fail to show me the piece of paper at the necessary interval, I will push a
button and all stores will be locked—you no longer have access to the stores, I no longer collect information about you, and I leave and forget all about you. Since you are
no longer able to access any sensitive objects (store merchandise), I don’t need to keep
track of you and what you are doing.
As long as the web server sends the cookie to the web browser, Kathy does not have to
provide credentials as she asks for different resources. This is what single sign-on is. You
only have to provide your credentials once, and the continual validation that you have
the necessary cookie will allow you to go from one resource to another. If you end your
session with the web server and need to interact with it again, you must re-authenticate
and a new cookie will be sent to your browser and it starts all over again.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

174
NOTE We will cover specific single sign-on technologies later in this chapter
along with their security issues.

So the WAM product allows an administrator to configure and control access to
internal resources. This type of access control is commonly put in place to control external entities requesting access. The product may work on a single web server or a
server farm.

Password Management
How do we reduce the number of times users forget their passwords?
Response: If someone calls the help desk, fire them.
We cover password requirements, security issues, and best practices later in this
chapter. At this point, we need to understand how password management can work
within an IdM environment.
Help-desk workers and administrators commonly complain about the amount of
time they have to spend resetting passwords when users forget them. Another issue is
the number of different passwords the users are required to remember for the different
platforms within the network. When a password changes, an administrator must connect directly to that management software of the specific platform and change the password value. This may not seem like much of a hassle, but if an organization has 4,000
users and seven different platforms, and 35 different applications, it could require a
full-time person to continually make these password modifications. And who would
really want that job?
Different types of password management technologies have been developed to get
these pesky users off the backs of IT and the help desk by providing a more secure and
automated password management system. The most common password management
approaches are listed next:
• Password Synchronization Reduces the complexity of keeping up with
different passwords for different systems.
• Self-Service Password Reset Reduces help-desk call volumes by allowing
users to reset their own passwords.
• Assisted Password Reset Reduces the resolution process for password
issues for the help desk. This may include authentication with other types of
authentication mechanisms (biometrics, tokens).
Password Synchronization If users have too many passwords they need to keep
track of, they will write the passwords down on a sticky note and cleverly hide this under their keyboard or just stick it on the side of their monitor. This is certainly easier for
the user, but not so great for security.
Password synchronization technologies can allow a user to maintain just one password across multiple systems. The product will synchronize the password to other systems and applications, which happens transparently to the user.

Chapter 3: Access Control

175
The goal is to require the user to memorize only one password and have the ability
to enforce more robust and secure password requirements. If a user only needs to remember one password, he is more likely to not have a problem with longer, more
complex strings of values. This reduces help-desk call volume and allows the administrator to keep her sanity for just a little bit longer.
One criticism of this approach is that since only one password is used to access different resources, now the hacker only has to figure out one credential set to gain unauthorized access to all resources. But if the password requirements are more demanding
(12 characters, no dictionary words, three symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters,
and so on) and the password is changed out regularly, the balance between security and
usability can be acceptable.
Self-Service Password Reset Some products are implemented to allow users to
reset their own passwords. This does not mean that the users have any type of privileged
permissions on the systems to allow them to change their own credentials. Instead, during the registration of a user account, the user can be asked to provide several personal
questions (school graduated from, favorite teacher, favorite color, and so on) in a question-and-answer form. When the user forgets his password, he may be required to provide another authentication mechanism (smart card, token) and to answer these previously answered questions to prove his identity. If he does this properly, he is allowed to
change his password. If he does not do this properly, he is fired because he is an idiot.
Products are available that allow users to change their passwords through other
means. For example, if you forgot your password, you may be asked to answer some of
the questions answered during the registration process of your account. If you do this
correctly, an e-mail is sent to you with a link you must click. The password management
product has your identity tied to the answers you gave to the questions during your account registration process and to your e-mail address. If the user does everything correctly, he is given a screen that allows him to reset his password.
CAUTION The product should not ask for information that is publicly
available, as in your mother’s maiden name, because anyone can find that
out and attempt to identify himself as you.
Assisted Password Reset Some products are created for help-desk employees
who need to work with individuals when they forget their password. The help-desk
employee should not know or ask the individual for her password. This would be a
security risk since only the owner of the password should know the value. The helpdesk employee also should not just change a password for someone calling in without
authenticating that person first. This can allow social engineering attacks where an attacker calls the help desk and indicates she is someone who she is not. If this took
place, then an attacker would have a valid employee password and could gain unauthorized access to the company’s jewels.
The products that provide assisted password reset functionality allow the help-desk
individual to authenticate the caller before resetting the password. This authentication
process is commonly performed through the question-and-answer process described in
the previous section. The help-desk individual and the caller must be identified and

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

176
authenticated through the password management tool before the password can be
changed. Once the password is updated, the system that the user is authenticating to
should require the user to change her password again. This would ensure that only she
(and not she and the help-desk person) knows her password. The goal of an assisted
password reset product is to reduce the cost of support calls and ensure all calls are
processed in a uniform, consistent, and secure fashion.
Various password management products on the market provide one or all of these
functionalities. Since IdM is about streamlining identification, authentication, and access
control, one of these products is typically integrated into the enterprise IdM solution.
Legacy Single Sign-On We will cover specific single sign-on (SSO) technologies
later in this chapter, but at this point we want to understand how SSO products are
commonly used as an IdM solution or as part of a larger IdM enterprise-wide solution.
An SSO technology allows a user to authenticate one time and then access resources in the environment without needing to re-authenticate. This may sound the same as
password synchronization, but it is not. With password synchronization, a product
takes the user’s password and updates each user account on each different system and
application with that one password. If Tom’s password is iwearpanties, then this is the
value he must type into each and every application and system he must access. In an
SSO situation, Tom would send his password to one authentication system. When Tom
requests to access a network application, the application will send over a request for
credentials, but the SSO software will respond to the application for Tom. So in SSO
environments, the SSO software intercepts the login prompts from network systems
and applications and fills in the necessary identification and authentication information (that is, the username and password) for the user.
Even though password synchronization and single sign-on are different technologies, they still have the same vulnerability. If an attacker uncovers a user’s credential set,
she can have access to all the resources that the legitimate user may have access to.
An SSO solution may also provide a bottleneck or single point of failure. If the SSO
server goes down, users are unable to access network resources. This is why it’s a good
idea to have some type of redundancy or fail-over technology in place.
Most environments are not homogeneous in devices and applications, which makes
it more difficult to have a true enterprise SSO solution. Legacy systems many times require a different type of authentication process than the SSO software can provide. So
potentially 80 percent of the devices and applications may be able to interact with the
SSO software and the other 20 percent will require users to authenticate to them directly. In many of these situations, the IT department may come up with their own
homemade solutions, such as using login batch scripts for the legacy systems.
Are there any other downfalls with SSO we should be aware of? Well, it can be expensive to implement, especially in larger environments. Many times companies evaluate purchasing this type of solution and find out it is too cost-prohibitive. The other
issue is that it would mean all of the users’ credentials for the company’s resources are
stored in one location. If an attacker was able to break in to this storehouse, she could
access whatever she wanted, and do whatever she wanted, with the company’s assets.
As always, security, functionality, and cost must be properly weighed to determine
the best solution for the company.

Chapter 3: Access Control

177
Account Management Account management is often not performed efficiently
and effectively in companies today. Account management deals with creating user accounts on all systems, modifying the account privileges when necessary, and decommissioning the accounts when they are no longer needed. Most environments have
their IT department create accounts manually on the different systems, users are given
excessive rights and permissions, and when an employee leaves the company, many or
all of the accounts stay active. This is because a centralized account management technology has not been put into place.
Account management products attempt to attack these issues by allowing an administrator to manage user accounts across multiple systems. When there are multiple
directories containing user profiles or access information, the account management
software allows for replication between the directories to ensure each contains the same
up-to-date information.
Now let’s think about how accounts are set up. In many environments, when a new
user needs an account, a network administrator will set up the account(s) and provide
some type of privileges and permissions. But how would the network administrator
know what resources this new user should have access to and what permissions should
be assigned to the new account? In most situations, he doesn’t—he just wings it. This is
how users end up with too much access to too much stuff. What should take place instead is implementing a workflow process that allows for a request for a new user account. This request is approved, usually, by the employee’s manager, and the accounts
are automatically set up on the systems, or a ticket is generated for the technical staff to
set up the account(s). If there is a request for a change to the permissions on the account or if an account needs to be decommissioned, it goes through the same process.
The request goes to a manager (or whoever is delegated with this approval task), the
manager approves it, and the changes to the various accounts take place.
The automated workflow component is common in account management products
that provide IdM solutions. Not only does this reduce the potential errors that can take
place in account management, each step (including account approval) is logged and
tracked. This allows for accountability and provides documentation for use in backtracking if something goes wrong. It also helps ensure that only the necessary amount of access is provided to the account and that there are no “orphaned” accounts still active
when employees leave the company. In addition, these types of processes are the kind
your auditors will be looking for—and we always want to make the auditors happy!
NOTE These types of account management products are commonly used to
set up and maintain internal accounts. Web access control management is used
mainly for external users.
As with SSO products, enterprise account management products are usually expensive and can take years to properly roll out across the enterprise. Regulatory requirements, however, are making more and more companies spend the money for these
types of solutions—which the vendors love!

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

178
Provisioning Let’s review what we know, and then build upon these concepts. Most
IdM solutions pull user information from the HR database, because the data are already
collected and held in one place and are constantly updated as employees’ or contractors’
statuses change. So user information will be copied from the HR database (referred to as
the authoritative source) into a directory, which we covered in an earlier section.
When a new employee is hired, the employee’s information, along with his manager’s name, is pulled from the HR database into the directory. The employee’s manager is automatically sent an e-mail asking for approval of this new account. After the
manager approves, the necessary accounts are set up on the required systems.
Over time, this new user will commonly have different identity attributes, which
will be used for authentication purposes, stored in different systems in the network.
When a user requests access to a resource, all of his identity data have already been
copied from other identity stores and the HR database and held in this centralized directory (sometimes called the identity repository). This may be a meta-directory or a
virtual directory. The access control component of the IdM system will compare the
user’s request to the IdM access control policy and ensure the user has the necessary
identification and authentication pieces in place before allowing access to the resource.
When this employee is fired, this new information goes from the HR database to
the directory. An e-mail is automatically generated and sent to the manager to allow
this account to be decommissioned. Once this is approved, the account management
software disables all of the accounts that had been set up for this user.
This example illustrates user account management and provisioning, which is the
life-cycle management of identity components.
Why do we have to worry about all of this identification and authentication stuff?
Because users always want something—they are very selfish. Okay, users actually need
access to resources to carry out their jobs, but what do they need access to, and what
level of access? This question is actually a very difficult one in our distributed, heterogeneous, and somewhat chaotic environments today. Too much access to resources
opens the company up to potential fraud and other risks. Too little access means the
user cannot do his job. So we are required to get it just right.

Authoritative System of Record
The authoritative source is the “system of record,” or the location where identity
information originates and is maintained. It should have the most up-to-date
and reliable identity information. An “Authoritative System of Record” (ASOR) is
a hierarchical tree-like structure system that tracks subjects and their authorization chains. Organizations need an automated and reliable way of detecting and
managing unusual or suspicious changes to user accounts and a method of collecting this type of data through extensive auditing capabilities. The ASOR should
contain the subject’s name, associated accounts, authorization history per account, and provision details. This type of workflow and accounting is becoming
more in demand for regulatory compliance because it allows auditors to understand how access is being centrally controlled within an environment.

Chapter 3: Access Control

179
User provisioning refers to the creation, maintenance, and deactivation of user objects and attributes as they exist in one or more systems, directories, or applications, in
response to business processes. User provisioning software may include one or more of
the following components: change propagation, self-service workflow, consolidated
user administration, delegated user administration, and federated change control. User
objects may represent employees, contractors, vendors, partners, customers, or other
recipients of a service. Services may include electronic mail, access to a database, access
to a file server or database, and so on.
Great. So we create, maintain, and deactivate accounts as required based on business needs. What else does this mean? The creation of the account also is the creation
of the access rights to company assets. It is through provisioning that users either are
given access or access is taken away. Throughout the life cycle of a user identity, access
rights, permissions, and privileges should change as needed in a clearly understood,
automated, and audited process.
By now, you should be able to connect how these different technologies work together to provide an organization with streamlined IdM. Directories are built to contain
user and resource information. A metadata directory pulls identity information that resides in different places within the network to allow IdM processes to only have to get
the needed data for their tasks from this one location. User management tools allow for
automated control of user identities through their lifetimes and can provide provisioning. A password management tool is in place so that productivity is not slowed down by
a forgotten password. A single sign-on technology requires internal users to only authenticate once for enterprise access. Web access management tools provide a single sign-on
service to external users and control access to web-based resources. Figure 3-6 provides a
visual example of how many of these components work together.
Profile Update
I changed my dog’s name from Cornelis Vreeswijk Hollander to Spot.
Response: Good choice, but we don’t need this in your identity profile.
Most companies do not just contain the information “Bob Smith” for a user and
make all access decisions based on this data. There can be a plethora of information on
a user that is captured (e-mail address, home address, phone number, panty size, and
so on). When this collection of data is associated with the identity of a user, we call it a
profile.
The profile should be centrally located for easier management. IdM enterprise solutions have profile update technology that allows an administrator to create, make
changes, or delete these profiles in an automated fashion when necessary. Many user
profiles contain nonsensitive data that the user can update himself (called self-service).
So if George moved to a new house, there should be a profile update tool that allows
him to go into his profile and change his address information. Now, his profile may
also contain sensitive data that should not be available to George—for example, his
access rights to resources or information that he is going to get laid off on Friday.
You have interacted with a profile update technology if you have requested to update your personal information on a web site, as in Orbitz, Amazon, or Expedia. These
companies provide you with the capability to sign in and update the information they

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

180

Figure 3-6 Enterprise identity management system components

allow you to access. This could be your contact information, home address, purchasing
preferences, or credit card data. This information is then used to update their customer
relationship management (CRM) system so they know where to send you their junk
mail advertisements or spam messages.
Federation
Beam me up, Scotty!
The world continually gets smaller as technology brings people and companies
closer together. Many times, when we are interacting with just one web site, we are actually interacting with several different companies—we just don’t know it. The reason we
don’t know it is because these companies are sharing our identity and authentication
information behind the scenes. This is not done for nefarious purposes necessarily, but
to make our lives easier and to allow merchants to sell their goods without much effort
on our part.
For example, a person wants to book an airline flight and a hotel room. If the airline
company and hotel company use a federated identity management system, this means
they have set up a trust relationship between the two companies and will share customer identification and, potentially, authentication information. So when I book my
flight on Southwest, the web site asks me if I want to also book a hotel room. If I click

Chapter 3: Access Control

181
Digital Identity
In the digital world, I am a very different person.
Response: Thank goodness.
An interesting little fact that not many people are aware of is that a digital
identity is made up of attributes, entitlements, and traits. Many of us just think of
identity as a user ID that is mapped to an individual. The truth is that it is usually more complicated than that.
A user’s identity can be a collection of her attributes (department, role in
company, shift time, clearance, and others); her entitlements (resources available
to her, authoritative rights in the company, and so on); and her traits (biometric
information, height, sex, and so forth).
So if a user requests access to a database that contains sensitive employee information, the IdM solution would need to pull together the necessary identity
information and her supplied credentials before she is authorized access. If the
user is a senior manager (attribute), with a Secret clearance (attribute), and has
access to the database (entitlement)—she is granted the permissions Read and
Write to certain records in the database Monday through Friday, 8 A.M. to 5 P.M.
(attribute).
Another example is if a soldier requests to be assigned an M-16 firearm. She
must be in the 34th division (attribute), have a top secret clearance (attribute), her
supervisor must have approved this (entitlement), and her physical features
(traits) must match the ID card she presents to the firearm depot clerk.
The directory (or meta-directory) of the IdM system has all of this identity
information centralized, which is why it is so important.
Many people think that just logging in to a domain controller or a network
access server is all that is involved in identity management. But if you peek under
the covers, you can find an array of complex processes and technologies working
together.
The CISSP exam is not currently getting into this level of detail (entitlement,
attribute, traits) pertaining to IdM, but in the real world there are many facets to
identification, authentication, authorization, and auditing that make it a complex beast.
“Yes,” I could then be brought to the Hilton web site, which provides me with information on the closest hotel to the airport I’m flying into. Now, to book a room I don’t have
to log in again. I logged in on the Southwest web site, and that web site sent my information over to the Hilton web site, all of which happened transparently to me.
A federated identity is a portable identity, and its associated entitlements, that can be
used across business boundaries. It allows a user to be authenticated across multiple IT
systems and enterprises. Identity federation is based upon linking a user’s otherwise distinct identities at two or more locations without the need to synchronize or consolidate
directory information. Federated identity offers businesses and consumers a more convenient way of accessing distributed resources and is a key component of e-commerce.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

182

Web portals functions are parts of a website that act as a point of access to information. A portal presents information from diverse sources in a unified manner. It can
offer various services, as in e-mail, news updates, stock prices, data access, price lookups, access to databases, and entertainment. They provide a way for organizations to
present one consistent interface with one “look and feel” and various functionality
types. For example, your company might have a web portal that you can log into and it
provides access to many different systems and their functionalities, but it seems as
though you are only interacting with one system because the interface is “clean” and
organized. Common public web portals are iGoogle, Yahoo!, AOL, etc. They mash up,
or combine, web services (web-based functions) from several different entities and
present them in one central website.
A web portal is made up of portlets, which are pluggable user-interface software
components that present information from other systems. A portlet is an interactive
application that provides a specific type of web service functionality (e-mail, news feed,
weather updates, forums). A portal is made up of individual portlets to provide a plethora of services through one interface. It is a way of centrally providing a set of web services. Users can configure their view to the portal by enabling or disabling these various
portlet functions.
Since each of these portlets can be provided by different entities, how user authentication information is handled must be tightly controlled, and there must be a high
level of trust between these different entities. If you worked for a college, for example,
there might be one web portal available to students, parents, faculty members, and the
public. The public should only be able to view and access a small subset of available
portlets and not have access to more powerful web services (e-mails, database access).

Chapter 3: Access Control

183
Students could be able to log in and gain access to their grades, assignments, and a
student forum. Faculty members can gain access to all of these web services, including
the school’s e-mail service and access to the central database, which contains all of the
students’ information. If there is a software flaw or misconfiguration, it is possible that
someone can gain access to something they are not supposed to.
The following sections explain the various types of authentication methods commonly used and integrated in many web-based federated identity management processes and products today.

Access Control and Markup Languages
You can only do what I want you to do when interacting with my web portal.
If you can remember when HyperText Markup Language (HTML) was all we had to
make a static web page, you’re old. Being old in the technology world is different than
in the regular world; HTML came out in the early 1990s. HTML came from Standard
Generalized Markup Language (SGML), which came from the Generalized Markup
Language (GML). We still use HTML, so it is certainly not dead and gone; the industry
has just improved upon the markup languages available for use to meet today’s needs.
A markup language is a way to structure text and data sets, and it dictates how these
will be viewed and used. When you adjust margins and other formatting capabilities in
a word processor, you are marking up the text in the word processor’s markup language.
If you develop a web page, you are using some type of markup language. You can control how it looks and some of the actual functionality the page provides. The use of a
standard markup language also allows for interoperability. If you develop a web page
and follow basic markup language standards, the page will basically look and act the
same no matter what web server is serving up the web page or what browser the viewer
is using to interact with it.
As the Internet grew in size and the World Wide Web (WWW) expanded in functionality, and as more users and organizations came to depend upon web sites and
web-based communication, the basic and elementary functions provided by HTML
were not enough. And instead of every web site having its own proprietary markup
language to meet its specific functionality requirements, the industry had to have a way
for functionality needs to be met and still provide interoperability for all web server
and web browser interaction. This is the reason that Extensible Markup Language (XML)
was developed. XML is a universal and foundational standard that provides a structure
for other independent markup languages to be built from and still allow for interoperability. Markup languages with various functionalities were built from XML, and while
each language provides its own individual functionality, if they all follow the core rules
of XML then they are interoperable and can be used across different web-based applications and platforms.
As an analogy, let’s look at the English language. Sam is a biology scientist, Trudy is
an accountant, and Val is a network administrator. They all speak English, so they have
a common set of communication rules, which allow them to talk with each other, but
each has their own “spin-off” languages that builds upon and uses the English language
as its core. Sam uses words like “mitochondrial amino acid genetic strains” and “DNA
polymerase.” Trudy uses words as in “accrual accounting” and “acquisition indigestion.” Val uses terms as in “multiprotocol label switching” and “subkey creation.” Each

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

184
profession has its own “language” to meet its own needs, but each is based off the same
core language—English. In the world of the WWW, various web sites need to provide
different types of functionality through the use of their own language types but still
need a way to communicate with each other and their users in a consistent manner,
which is why they are based upon the same core language structure (XML).
There are hundreds of markup languages based upon XML, but we are going to focus on the ones that are used for identity management and access control purposes.
The Service Provisioning Markup Language (SPML) allows for the exchange of provisioning data between applications, which could reside in one organization or many.
SPML allows for the automation of user management (account creation, amendments,
revocation) and access entitlement configuration related to electronically published
services across multiple provisioning systems. This markup language allows for the integration and interoperation of service provisioning requests across various platforms.
When a new employee is hired at a company, that employee usually needs access to
a wide range of systems, servers, and applications. Setting up new accounts on each and
every system, properly configuring access rights, and then maintaining those accounts
throughout their lifetimes is time-consuming, laborious, and error-prone. What if the
company has 20,000 employees and thousands of network resources that each employee needs various access rights to? This opens the door for confusion, mistakes,
vulnerabilities, and a lack of standardization.
SPML allows for all these accounts to be set up and managed simultaneously across
the various systems and applications. SPML is made up of three main entities: the Requesting Authority (RA), which is the entity that is making the request to set up a new
account or make changes to an existing account; the Provisioning Service Provider
(PSP), which is the software that responds to the account requests; and the Provisioning Service Target (PST), which is the entity that carries out the provisioning activities
on the requested system.
So when a new employee is hired, there is a request to set up the necessary user accounts and access privileges on several different systems and applications across the
enterprise. This request originates in a piece of software carrying out the functionality
of the RA. The RA creates SPML messages, which provide the requirements of the new
account, and sends them to a piece of software that is carrying out the functionality of
the PSP. This piece of software reviews the requests and compares them to the organization’s approved account creation criteria. If these requests are allowed, the PSP sends
new SPML messages to the end systems (PST) that the user actually needs to access.
Software on the PST sets up the requested accounts and configures the necessary access
rights. If this same employee is fired three months later, the same process is followed
and all necessary user accounts are deleted. This allows for consistent account management in complex environments. These steps are illustrated in Figure 3-7.
When there is a need to allow a user to log in one time and gain access to different
and separate web-based applications, the actual authentication data have to be shared
between the systems maintaining those web applications securely and in a standardized manner. This is the role that the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) plays.
It is an XML standard that allows the exchange of authentication and authorization
data to be shared between security domains. When you purchase an airline flight on
www.southwest.com, you are prompted to also purchase a hotel room and a rental car.

Chapter 3: Access Control

185

Figure 3-7 SPML provisioning steps

Southwest Airlines does not provide all these services itself, but the company has relationships set up with the companies that do provide these services. The Southwest
Airlines portal acts as a customer entry point. Once you are authenticated through their
web site and you request to purchase a hotel room, your authorization data are sent
from the airline web server to the hotel company web server. This allows you to purchase an airline flight and hotel room from two different companies through one centralized portal.
SAML provides the authentication pieces to federated identity management systems
to allow business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions. In
our previous example, the user is considered the principal, Southwest Airlines would be
considered the identity provider, and the hotel company that receives the user’s authentication information from the Southwest Airlines web server is considered the service
provider.
This is not the only way that the SAML language can be used. The digital world has
evolved to being able to provide extensive services and functionality to users through
web-based machine-to-machine communication standards. Web services is a collection
of technologies and standards that allow services (weather updates, stock tickers, email, customer resource management, etc.) to be provided on distributed systems and
be “served up” in one place. For example, if you go to the iGoogle portal, you can configure what services you want available to you each time you visit this page. All of these
services you choose (news feeds, videos, Gmail, calendar, etc.) are not provided by one

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

186
server in a Google data processing location. These services come from servers all over
the world; they are just provided in one central portal for your viewing pleasure.
Transmission of SAML data can take place over different protocol types, but a common one is Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). SOAP is a specification that outlines
how information pertaining to web services is exchanged in a structured manner. It
provides the basic messaging framework, which allows users to request a service and, in
exchange, the service is made available to that user. Let’s say you need to interact with
your company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system, which is hosted
and maintained by the vendor—for example, Salesforce.com. You would log in to your
company’s portal and double-click a link for Salesforce. Your company’s portal will take
this request and your authentication data and package it up in an SAML format and
encapsulate that data into a SOAP message. This message would be transmitted over an
HTTP connection to the Salesforce vendor site, and once you are authenticated, you are
provided with a screen that shows you the company’s customer database. The SAML,
SOAP, and HTTP relationship is illustrated in Figure 3-8.
The use of web services in this manner also allows for organizations to provide service oriented architecture (SOA) environments. An SOA is a way to provide independent
services residing on different systems in different business domains in one consistent
manner. For example, if your company has a web portal that allows you to access the
company’s CRM, an employee directory, and a help-desk ticketing application, this is
most likely being provided through an SOA. The CRM system may be within the marketing department, the employee directory may be within the HR department, and the
ticketing system may be within the IT department, but you can interact with all of them
through one interface. SAML is a way to send your authentication information to each
system, and SOAP allows this type of information to be presented and processed in a
unified manner.
The last XML-based standard we will look at is Extensible Access Control Markup
Language (XACML). XACML is used to express security policies and access rights to asFigure 3-8
SAML material
embedded within
an HTTP message

Chapter 3: Access Control

187
sets provided through web services and other enterprise applications. SAML is just a
way to send around your authentication information, as in a password, key, or digital
certificate, in a standard format. SAML does not tell the receiving system how to interpret and use this authentication data. Two systems have to be configured to use the
same type of authentication data. If you log in to System A and provide a password and
try to access System B, which only uses digital certificates for authentication purposes,
your password is not going to give you access to System B’s service. So both systems
have to be configured to use passwords. But just because your password is sent to System B does not mean you have complete access to all of System B’s functionality. System B has access policies that dictate the operations specific subjects can carry out on
its resources. The access policies can be developed in the XACML format and enforced
by System B’s software. XACML is both an access control policy language and a processing model that allows for policies to be interpreted and enforced in a standard manner.
When your password is sent to System B, there is a rules engine on that system that interprets and enforces the XACML access control policies. If the access control policies
are created in the XACML format, they can be installed on both System A and System B
to allow for consistent security to be enforced and managed.
XACML uses a Subject element (requesting entity), a Resource element (requested
entity), and an Action element (types of access). So if you request access to your company’s CRM, you are the Subject, the CRM application is the Resource, and your access
parameters are outlined in the Action element.
NOTE Who develops and keeps track of all of these standardized languages?
The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).
This organization develops and maintains the standards for how various
aspects of web-based communication are built and maintained.
Web services, SOA environments, and the implementation of these different XMLbased markup languages vary in nature because they allow for extensive flexibility. So
much of the world’s communication takes place through web-based processes; it is
becoming increasingly important for security professionals to understand these issues
and technologies.

Biometrics
I would like to prove who I am. Please look at the blood vessels at the back of my eyeball.
Response: Gross.
Biometrics verifies an individual’s identity by analyzing a unique personal attribute
or behavior, which is one of the most effective and accurate methods of verifying identification. Biometrics is a very sophisticated technology; thus, it is much more expensive and complex than the other types of identity verification processes. A biometric
system can make authentication decisions based on an individual’s behavior, as in signature dynamics, but these can change over time and possibly be forged. Biometric
systems that base authentication decisions on physical attributes (such as iris, retina, or
fingerprint) provide more accuracy because physical attributes typically don’t change,
absent some disfiguring injury, and are harder to impersonate.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

188
Biometrics is typically broken up into two different categories. The first is the physiological. These are traits that are physical attributes unique to a specific individual.
Fingerprints are a common example of a physiological trait used in biometric systems.
The second category of biometrics is known as behavioral. This is based on a characteristic of an individual to confirm his identity. An example is signature dynamics.
Physiological is “what you are” and behavioral is “what you do.”
A biometric system scans a person’s physiological attribute or behavioral trait and
compares it to a record created in an earlier enrollment process. Because this system
inspects the grooves of a person’s fingerprint, the pattern of someone’s retina, or the
pitches of someone’s voice, it must be extremely sensitive. The system must perform
accurate and repeatable measurements of anatomical or behavioral characteristics. This
type of sensitivity can easily cause false positives or false negatives. The system must be
calibrated so these false positives and false negatives occur infrequently and the results
are as accurate as possible.
When a biometric system rejects an authorized individual, it is called a Type I error
(false rejection rate). When the system accepts impostors who should be rejected, it is
called a Type II error (false acceptance rate). The goal is to obtain low numbers for each
type of error, but Type II errors are the most dangerous and thus the most important to
avoid.
When comparing different biometric systems, many different variables are used,
but one of the most important metrics is the crossover error rate (CER). This rating is
stated as a percentage and represents the point at which the false rejection rate equals
the false acceptance rate. This rating is the most important measurement when determining the system’s accuracy. A biometric system that delivers a CER of 3 will be more
accurate than a system that delivers a CER of 4.
NOTE

Crossover error rate (CER) is also called equal error rate (EER).

What is the purpose of this CER value anyway? Using the CER as an impartial judgment of a biometric system helps create standards by which products from different
vendors can be fairly judged and evaluated. If you are going to buy a biometric system,
you need a way to compare the accuracy between different systems. You can just go by
the different vendors’ marketing material (they all say they are the best), or you can
compare the different CER values of the products to see which one really is more accurate than the others. It is also a way to keep the vendors honest. One vendor may tell
you, “We have absolutely no Type II errors.” This would mean that their product would
not allow any imposters to be improperly authenticated. But what if you asked the vendor how many Type I errors their product had and she sheepishly replied, “We average
around 90 percent of Type I errors.” That would mean that 90 percent of the authentication attempts would be rejected, which would negatively affect your employees’ productivity. So you can ask about their CER value, which represents when the Type I and Type
II errors are equal, to give you a better understanding of the product’s overall accuracy.

Chapter 3: Access Control

189
Individual environments have specific security level requirements, which will dictate
how many Type I and Type II errors are acceptable. For example, a military institution
that is very concerned about confidentiality would be prepared to accept a certain number of Type I errors, but would absolutely not accept any false accepts (Type II errors).
Because all biometric systems can be calibrated, if you lower the Type II error rate by
adjusting the system’s sensitivity, it will result in an increase in Type I errors. The military
institution would obviously calibrate the biometric system to lower the Type II errors to
zero, but that would mean it would have to accept a higher rate of Type I errors.
Biometrics is the most expensive method of verifying a person’s identity, and it
faces other barriers to becoming widely accepted. These include user acceptance, enrollment timeframe, and throughput. Many times, people are reluctant to let a machine
read the pattern of their retina or scan the geometry of their hand. This lack of enthusiasm has slowed down the widespread use of biometric systems within our society. The
enrollment phase requires an action to be performed several times to capture a clear
and distinctive reference record. People are not particularly fond of expending this time
and energy when they are used to just picking a password and quickly typing it into
their console. When a person attempts to be authenticated by a biometric system,
sometimes the system will request an action to be completed several times. If the system was unable to get a clear reading of an iris scan or could not capture a full voice
verification print, the individual may have to repeat the action. This causes low throughput, stretches the individual’s patience, and reduces acceptability.
During enrollment, the user provides the biometric data (i.e. fingerprint, voice print),
and the biometric reader converts this data into binary values. Depending on the system,
the reader may create a hash value of the biometric data, or it may encrypt the data, or do
both. The biometric data then goes from the reader to a back-end authentication database where her user account has been created. When the user needs to later authenticate
to a system, she will provide the necessary biometric data (i.e. fingerprint, voice print),
and the binary format of this information is compared to what is in the authentication
database. If they match, then the user is authenticated.
In Figure 3-9, we see that biometric data can be stored on a smart card and used for
authentication. Also, you might notice that the match is 95 percent instead of 100 percent. Obtaining a 100 percent match each and every time is very difficult because of the
level of sensitivity of the biometric systems. A smudge on the reader, oil on the person’s
finger, and other small environmental issues can stand in the way of matching 100
percent. If your biometric system was calibrated so it required 100 percent matches, this
would mean you would not allow any Type II errors and that users would commonly
not be authenticated in a timely manner.

Processing Speed
When reviewing biometric devices for purchase, one component to take into consideration is the length of time it takes to actually authenticate users. From the
time a user inserts data until she receives an accept or reject response should take
five to ten seconds.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

190

Figure 3-9 Biometric data is turned into binary data and compared for identity validation.

The following is an overview of the different types of biometric systems and the
physiological or behavioral characteristics they examine.
Fingerprint Fingerprints are made up of ridge endings and bifurcations exhibited
by friction ridges and other detailed characteristics called minutiae. It is the distinctiveness of these minutiae that gives each individual a unique fingerprint. An individual
places his finger on a device that reads the details of the fingerprint and compares this
to a reference file. If the two match, the individual’s identity has been verified.
NOTE Fingerprint systems store the full fingerprint, which is actually a lot
of information that takes up hard drive space and resources. The finger-scan
technology extracts specific features from the fingerprint and stores just
that information, which takes up less hard drive space and allows for quicker
database lookups and comparisons.
Palm Scan The palm holds a wealth of information and has many aspects that are
used to identify an individual. The palm has creases, ridges, and grooves throughout
that are unique to a specific person. The palm scan also includes the fingerprints of
each finger. An individual places his hand on the biometric device, which scans and
captures this information. This information is compared to a reference file, and the
identity is either verified or rejected.
Hand Geometry The shape of a person’s hand (the shape, length, and width of
the hand and fingers) defines hand geometry. This trait differs significantly between
people and is used in some biometric systems to verify identity. A person places her

Chapter 3: Access Control

191
hand on a device that has grooves for each finger. The system compares the geometry of
each finger, and the hand as a whole, to the information in a reference file to verify that
person’s identity.
Retina Scan A system that reads a person’s retina scans the blood-vessel pattern of
the retina on the backside of the eyeball. This pattern has shown to be extremely unique
between different people. A camera is used to project a beam inside the eye and capture
the pattern and compare it to a reference file recorded previously.
Iris Scan The iris is the colored portion of the eye that surrounds the pupil. The iris
has unique patterns, rifts, colors, rings, coronas, and furrows. The uniqueness of each of
these characteristics within the iris is captured by a camera and compared with the information gathered during the enrollment phase. Of the biometric systems, iris scans
are the most accurate. The iris remains constant through adulthood, which reduces the
type of errors that can happen during the authentication process. Sampling the iris offers more reference coordinates than any other type of biometric. Mathematically, this
means it has a higher accuracy potential than any other type of biometric.
NOTE When using an iris pattern biometric system, the optical unit must
be positioned so the sun does not shine into the aperture; thus, when
implemented, it must have proper placement within the facility.
Signature Dynamics When a person signs a signature, usually they do so in the
same manner and speed each time. Signing a signature produces electrical signals that
can be captured by a biometric system. The physical motions performed when someone is signing a document create these electrical signals. The signals provide unique
characteristics that can be used to distinguish one individual from another. Signature
dynamics provides more information than a static signature, so there are more variables to verify when confirming an individual’s identity and more assurance that this
person is who he claims to be.
Signature dynamics is different from a digitized signature. A digitized signature is
just an electronic copy of someone’s signature and is not a biometric system that captures the speed of signing, the way the person holds the pen, and the pressure the
signer exerts to generate the signature.
Keystroke Dynamics Whereas signature dynamics is a method that captures the
electrical signals when a person signs a name, keystroke dynamics captures electrical
signals when a person types a certain phrase. As a person types a specified phrase, the
biometric system captures the speed and motions of this action. Each individual has a
certain style and speed, which translate into unique signals. This type of authentication
is more effective than typing in a password, because a password is easily obtainable. It
is much harder to repeat a person’s typing style than it is to acquire a password.
Voice Print People’s speech sounds and patterns have many subtle distinguishing
differences. A biometric system that is programmed to capture a voice print and compare it to the information held in a reference file can differentiate one individual from
another. During the enrollment process, an individual is asked to say several different

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

192
words. Later, when this individual needs to be authenticated, the biometric system jumbles these words and presents them to the individual. The individual then repeats the
sequence of words given. This technique is used so others cannot attempt to record the
session and play it back in hopes of obtaining unauthorized access.
Facial Scan A system that scans a person’s face takes many attributes and characteristics into account. People have different bone structures, nose ridges, eye widths, forehead sizes, and chin shapes. These are all captured during a facial scan and compared
to an earlier captured scan held within a reference record. If the information is a match,
the person is positively identified.
Hand Topography Whereas hand geometry looks at the size and width of an individual’s hand and fingers, hand topology looks at the different peaks and valleys of
the hand, along with its overall shape and curvature. When an individual wants to be
authenticated, she places her hand on the system. Off to one side of the system, a camera snaps a side-view picture of the hand from a different view and angle than that of
systems that target hand geometry, and thus captures different data. This attribute is not
unique enough to authenticate individuals by itself and is commonly used in conjunction with hand geometry.
Biometrics are not without their own sets of issues and concerns. Because they depend upon the specific and unique traits of living things, problems can arise. Living
things are notorious for not remaining the same, which means they won’t present static
biometric information for each and every login attempt. Voice recognition can be hampered by a user with a cold. Pregnancy can change the patterns of the retina. Someone
could lose a finger. Or all three could happen. You just never know in this crazy world.
Some biometric systems actually check for the pulsation and/or heat of a body part
to make sure it is alive. So if you are planning to cut someone’s finger off or pluck out
someone’s eyeball so you can authenticate yourself as a legitimate user, it may not
work. Although not specifically stated, I am pretty sure this type of activity falls outside
the bounds of the CISSP ethics you will be responsible for upholding once you receive
your certification.

Passwords
User identification coupled with a reusable password is the most common form of
system identification and authorization mechanisms. A password is a protected string of
characters that is used to authenticate an individual. As stated previously, authentication factors are based on what a person knows, has, or is. A password is something the
user knows.
Passwords are one of the most often used authentication mechanisms employed
today. It is important the passwords are strong and properly managed.
Password Management Although passwords are the most commonly used authentication mechanisms, they are also considered one of the weakest security mechanisms available. Why? Users usually choose passwords that are easily guessed (a
spouse’s name, a user’s birth date, or a dog’s name), or tell others their passwords, and

Chapter 3: Access Control

193
many times write the passwords down on a sticky note and cleverly hide it under the
keyboard. To most users, security is usually not the most important or interesting part
of using their computers—except when someone hacks into their computer and steals
confidential information, that is. Then security is all the rage.
This is where password management steps in. If passwords are properly generated,
updated, and kept secret, they can provide effective security. Password generators can be
used to create passwords for users. This ensures that a user will not be using “Bob” or
“Spot” for a password, but if the generator spits out “kdjasijew284802h,” the user will
surely scribble it down on a piece of paper and safely stick it to the monitor, which
defeats the whole purpose. If a password generator is going to be used, the tools should
create uncomplicated, pronounceable, nondictionary words to help users remember
them so they aren’t tempted to write them down.
If the users can choose their own passwords, the operating system should enforce
certain password requirements. The operating system can require that a password contain a certain number of characters, unrelated to the user ID, include special characters,
include upper- and lowercase letters, and not be easily guessable. The operating system
can keep track of the passwords a specific user generates so as to ensure no passwords
are reused. The users should also be forced to change their passwords periodically. All
of these factors make it harder for an attacker to guess or obtain passwords within the
environment.
If an attacker is after a password, she can try a few different techniques:
• Electronic monitoring Listening to network traffic to capture information,
especially when a user is sending her password to an authentication server.
The password can be copied and reused by the attacker at another time, which
is called a replay attack.
• Access the password file Usually done on the authentication server. The
password file contains many users’ passwords and, if compromised, can be
the source of a lot of damage. This file should be protected with access control
mechanisms and encryption.
• Brute force attacks Performed with tools that cycle through many possible
character, number, and symbol combinations to uncover a password.
• Dictionary attacks Files of thousands of words are compared to the user’s
password until a match is found.
• Social engineering An attacker falsely convinces an individual that she has
the necessary authorization to access specific resources.
• Rainbow table An attacker uses a table that contains all possible passwords
already in a hash format.
Certain techniques can be implemented to provide another layer of security for
passwords and their use. After each successful logon, a message can be presented to a
user indicating the date and time of the last successful logon, the location of this logon,
and whether there were any unsuccessful logon attempts. This alerts the user to any
suspicious activity and whether anyone has attempted to log on using his credentials.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

194
An administrator can set operating parameters that allow a certain number of failed
logon attempts to be accepted before a user is locked out; this is a type of clipping level.
The user can be locked out for five minutes or a full day after the threshold (or clipping
level) has been exceeded. It depends on how the administrator configures this mechanism. An audit trail can also be used to track password usage and both successful and
unsuccessful logon attempts. This audit information should include the date, time, user
ID, and workstation the user logged in from.
NOTE Clipping level is an older term that just means threshold. If the
number of acceptable failed login attempts is set to three, three is the
threshold (clipping level) value.
A password’s lifetime should be short but practical. Forcing a user to change a password on a more frequent basis provides more assurance that the password will not be
guessed by an intruder. If the lifetime is too short, however, it causes unnecessary management overhead, and users may forget which password is active. A balance between
protection and practicality must be decided upon and enforced.
As with many things in life, education is the key. Password requirements, protection, and generation should be addressed in security-awareness programs so users understand what is expected of them, why they should protect their passwords, and how
passwords can be stolen. Users should be an extension to a security team, not the opposition.
NOTE Rainbow tables contain passwords already in their hashed format. The
attacker just compares a captured hashed password with one that is listed in
the table to uncover the plaintext password. This takes much less time than
carrying out a dictionary or brute force attack.
Password Checkers Several organizations test user-chosen passwords using tools
that perform dictionary and/or brute force attacks to detect the weak passwords. This
helps make the environment as a whole less susceptible to dictionary and exhaustive
attacks used to discover users’ passwords. Many times the same tools employed by an
attacker to crack a password are used by a network administrator to make sure the password is strong enough. Most security tools have this dual nature. They are used by security professionals and IT staff to test for vulnerabilities within their environment in
the hope of uncovering and fixing them before an attacker finds the vulnerabilities. An
attacker uses the same tools to uncover vulnerabilities to exploit before the security
professional can fix them. It is the never-ending cat-and-mouse game.
If a tool is called a password checker, it is used by a security professional to test the
strength of a password. If a tool is called a password cracker, it is usually used by a
hacker; however, most of the time, these tools are one and the same.
You need to obtain management’s approval before attempting to test (break) employees’ passwords with the intent of identifying weak passwords. Explaining you are

Chapter 3: Access Control

195
trying to help the situation, not hurt it, after you have uncovered the CEO’s password is
not a good situation to be in.
Password Hashing and Encryption In most situations, if an attacker sniffs
your password from the network wire, she still has some work to do before she actually
knows your password value because most systems hash the password with a hashing
algorithm, commonly MD4 or MD5, to ensure passwords are not sent in cleartext.
Although some people think the world is run by Microsoft, other types of operating
systems are out there, such as Unix and Linux. These systems do not use registries and
SAM databases, but contain their user passwords in a file cleverly called “shadow.”
Now, this shadow file does not contain passwords in cleartext; instead, your password
is run through a hashing algorithm, and the resulting value is stored in this file. Unixtype systems zest things up by using salts in this process. Salts are random values added
to the encryption process to add more complexity and randomness. The more randomness entered into the encryption process, the harder it is for the bad guy to decrypt and
uncover your password. The use of a salt means that the same password can be encrypted into several thousand different formats. This makes it much more difficult for
an attacker to uncover the right format for your system.
Password Aging Many systems enable administrators to set expiration dates for
passwords, forcing users to change them at regular intervals. The system may also keep
a list of the last five to ten passwords (password history) and not let the users revert
back to previously used passwords.
Limit Logon Attempts A threshold can be set to allow only a certain number of
unsuccessful logon attempts. After the threshold is met, the user’s account can be locked
for a period of time or indefinitely, which requires an administrator to manually unlock the account. This protects against dictionary and other exhaustive attacks that continually submit credentials until the right combination of username and password is
discovered.

Cognitive Password
What is your mother’s name?
Response: Shucks, I don’t remember. I have it written down somewhere.
Cognitive passwords are fact- or opinion-based information used to verify an individual’s identity. A user is enrolled by answering several questions based on her life
experiences. Passwords can be hard for people to remember, but that same person will
not likely forget her mother’s maiden name, favorite color, dog’s name, or the school
she graduated from. After the enrollment process, the user can answer the questions
asked of her to be authenticated instead of having to remember a password. This authentication process is best for a service the user does not use on a daily basis because
it takes longer than other authentication mechanisms. This can work well for help-desk
services. The user can be authenticated via cognitive means. This way, the person at the
help desk can be sure he is talking to the right person, and the user in need of help does
not need to remember a password that may be used once every three months.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

196
NOTE Authentication by knowledge means that a subject is authenticated
based upon something she knows. This could be a PIN, password, passphrase,
cognitive password, personal history information, or through the use of a
CAPTCHA, which is the graphical representation of data. A CAPTCHA is a
skewed representation of characteristics a person must enter to prove that
the subject is a human and not an automated tool as in a software robot.

One-Time Password
How many times is my one-time password good for?
Response: You are fired.
A one-time password (OTP) is also called a dynamic password. It is used for authentication purposes and is only good once. After the password is used, it is no longer
valid; thus, if a hacker obtained this password, it could not be reused. This type of authentication mechanism is used in environments that require a higher level of security
than static passwords provide. One-time password generating tokens come in two general types: synchronous and asynchronous.
The token device is the most common implementation mechanism for OTP and
generates the one-time password for the user to submit to an authentication server. The
following sections explain these concepts.
The Token Device The token device, or password generator, is usually a handheld
device that has an LCD display and possibly a keypad. This hardware is separate from
the computer the user is attempting to access. The token device and authentication
service must be synchronized in some manner to be able to authenticate a user. The
token device presents the user with a list of characters to be entered as a password when
logging on to a computer. Only the token device and authentication service know the
meaning of these characters. Because the two are synchronized, the token device will
present the exact password the authentication service is expecting. This is a one-time
password, also called a token, and is no longer valid after initial use.
Synchronous A synchronous token device synchronizes with the authentication service by using time or a counter as the core piece of the authentication process. If the
synchronization is time-based, the token device and the authentication service must
hold the same time within their internal clocks. The time value on the token device and
a secret key are used to create the one-time password, which is displayed to the user.
The user enters this value and a user ID into the computer, which then passes them to
the server running the authentication service. The authentication service decrypts this
value and compares it to the value it expected. If the two match, the user is authenticated and allowed to use the computer and resources.
If the token device and authentication service use counter-synchronization, the user
will need to initiate the creation of the one-time password by pushing a button on the
token device. This causes the token device and the authentication service to advance to
the next authentication value. This value and a base secret are hashed and displayed to the
user. The user enters this resulting value along with a user ID to be authenticated. In
either time- or counter-based synchronization, the token device and authentication
service must share the same secret base key used for encryption and decryption.

Chapter 3: Access Control

197
SecurID
SecurID, from RSA Security, Inc., is one of the most widely used time-based tokens. One version of the product generates the one-time password by using a
mathematical function on the time, date, and ID of the token card. Another version of the product requires a PIN to be entered into the token device.

1

NOTE Synchronous token-based one-time password generation can be
time-based or counter-based. Another term for counter-based is event-based.
Counter-based and event-based are interchangeable terms, and you could see
either or both on the CISSP exam.
Asynchronous A token device using an asynchronous token–generating method
employs a challenge/response scheme to authenticate the user. In this situation, the
authentication server sends the user a challenge, a random value, also called a nonce.
The user enters this random value into the token device, which encrypts it and returns
a value the user uses as a one-time password. The user sends this value, along with a
username, to the authentication server. If the authentication server can decrypt the value and it is the same challenge value sent earlier, the user is authenticated, as shown in
Figure 3-10.
NOTE The actual implementation and process that these devices follow
can differ between different vendors. What is important to know is that
asynchronous is based on challenge/response mechanisms, while synchronous
is based on time- or counter-driven mechanisms.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

198
6.

Figure 3-10 Authentication using an asynchronous token device includes a workstation, token
device, and authentication service.

Both token systems can fall prey to masquerading if a user shares his identification
information (ID or username) and the token device is shared or stolen. The token device can also have battery failure or other malfunctions that would stand in the way of
a successful authentication. However, this type of system is not vulnerable to electronic
eavesdropping, sniffing, or password guessing.
If the user has to enter a password or PIN into the token device before it provides a
one-time password, then strong authentication is in effect because it is using two factors—something the user knows (PIN) and something the user has (the token device).
NOTE One-time passwords can also be generated in software, in which case a
piece of hardware such as a token device is not required. These are referred to
as soft tokens and require that the authentication service and application contain
the same base secrets, which are used to generate the one-time passwords.

Cryptographic Keys
Another way to prove one’s identity is to use a private key by generating a digital signature. A digital signature could be used in place of a password. Passwords are the weakest
form of authentication and can be easily sniffed as they travel over a network. Digital
signatures are forms of authentication used in environments that require higher security protection than what is provided by passwords.
A private key is a secret value that should be in the possession of one person, and
one person only. It should never be disclosed to an outside party. A digital signature is
a technology that uses a private key to encrypt a hash value (message digest). The act of
encrypting this hash value with a private key is called digitally signing a message. A digital signature attached to a message proves the message originated from a specific source
and that the message itself was not changed while in transit.

Chapter 3: Access Control

199
A public key can be made available to anyone without compromising the associated private key; this is why it is called a public key. We explore private keys, public keys,
digital signatures, and public key infrastructure (PKI) in Chapter 7, but for now, understand that a private key and digital signatures are other mechanisms that can be used to
authenticate an individual.

Passphrase
A passphrase is a sequence of characters that is longer than a password (thus a “phrase”)
and, in some cases, takes the place of a password during an authentication process. The
user enters this phrase into an application, and the application transforms the value into
a virtual password, making the passphrase the length and format that is required by the
application. (For example, an application may require your virtual password to be 128
bits to be used as a key with the AES algorithm.) If a user wants to authenticate to an application, such as Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), he types in a passphrase, let’s say StickWithMeKidAndYouWillWearDiamonds. The application converts this phrase into a virtual
password that is used for the actual authentication. The user usually generates the passphrase in the same way a user creates a password the first time he logs on to a computer.
A passphrase is more secure than a password because it is longer, and thus harder to obtain by an attacker. In many cases, the user is more likely to remember a passphrase than
a password.

Memory Cards
The main difference between memory cards and smart cards is their capacity to process
information. A memory card holds information but cannot process information. A
smart card holds information and has the necessary hardware and software to actually
process that information. A memory card can hold a user’s authentication information
so the user only needs to type in a user ID or PIN and present the memory card, and if
the data that the user entered matches the data on the memory card, the user is successfully authenticated. If the user presents a PIN value, then this is an example of twofactor authentication—something the user knows and something the user has. A memory card can also hold identification data that are pulled from the memory card by a
reader. It travels with the PIN to a back-end authentication server. An example of a
memory card is a swipe card that must be used for an individual to be able to enter a
building. The user enters a PIN and swipes the memory card through a card reader. If
this is the correct combination, the reader flashes green and the individual can open
the door and enter the building. Another example is an ATM card. If Buffy wants to
withdraw $40 from her checking account, she needs to enter the correct PIN and slide
the ATM card (or memory card) through the reader.
Memory cards can be used with computers, but they require a reader to process the
information. The reader adds cost to the process, especially when one is needed per
computer, and card generation adds cost and effort to the whole authentication process. Using a memory card provides a more secure authentication method than using a
password because the attacker would need to obtain the card and know the correct PIN.
Administrators and management must weigh the costs and benefits of a memory token–based card implementation to determine if it is the right authentication mechanism for their environment.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

200
Smart Card
My smart card is smarter than your memory card.
A smart card has the capability of processing information because it has a microprocessor and integrated circuits incorporated into the card itself. Memory cards do not
have this type of hardware and lack this type of functionality. The only function they
can perform is simple storage. A smart card, which adds the capability to process information stored on it, can also provide a two-factor authentication method because the
user may have to enter a PIN to unlock the smart card. This means the user must provide something she knows (PIN) and something she has (smart card).
Two general categories of smart cards are the contact and the contactless types. The
contact smart card has a gold seal on the face of the card. When this card is fully inserted into a card reader, electrical fingers wipe against the card in the exact position
that the chip contacts are located. This will supply power and data I/O to the chip for
authentication purposes. The contactless smart card has an antenna wire that surrounds
the perimeter of the card. When this card comes within an electromagnetic field of the
reader, the antenna within the card generates enough energy to power the internal chip.
Now, the results of the smart card processing can be broadcast through the same antenna, and the conversation of authentication can take place. The authentication can be
completed by using a one-time password, by employing a challenge/response value, or
by providing the user’s private key if it is used within a PKI environment.

Chapter 3: Access Control

201
NOTE Two types of contactless smart cards are available: hybrid and combi.
The hybrid card has two chips, with the capability of utilizing both the contact
and contactless formats. A combi card has one microprocessor chip that can
communicate to contact or contactless readers.
The information held within the memory of a smart card is not readable until the
correct PIN is entered. This fact and the complexity of the smart token make these cards
resistant to reverse-engineering and tampering methods. If George loses the smart card he
uses to authenticate to the domain at work, the person who finds the card would need to
know his PIN to do any real damage. The smart card can also be programmed to store
information in an encrypted fashion, as well as detect any tampering with the card itself.
In the event that tampering is detected, the information stored on the smart card can be
automatically wiped.
The drawbacks to using a smart card are the extra cost of the readers and the overhead
of card generation, as with memory cards, although this cost is decreasing. The smart
cards themselves are more expensive than memory cards because of the extra integrated
circuits and microprocessor. Essentially, a smart card is a kind of computer, and because
of that it has many of the operational challenges and risks that can affect a computer.
Smart cards have several different capabilities, and as the technology develops and
memory capacities increase for storage, they will gain even more. They can store personal information in a storage manner that is tamper resistant. This also allows them
to have the ability to isolate security-critical computations within themselves. They can
be used in encryption systems in order to store keys and have a high level of portability
as well as security. The memory and integrated circuit also allow for the capacity to use
encryption algorithms on the actual card and use them for secure authorization that
can be utilized throughout an entire organization.
Smart Card Attacks
Could I tickle your smart card with this needleless ultrasonic vibration thingy?
Response: Um, no.
Smart cards are more tamperproof than memory cards, but where there is sensitive
data there are individuals who are motivated to circumvent any countermeasure the
industry throws at them.
Over the years, people have become very inventive in the development of various
ways to attack smart cards. For example, individuals have introduced computational
errors into smart cards with the goal of uncovering the encryption keys used and stored
on the cards. These “errors” are introduced by manipulating some environmental component of the card (changing input voltage, clock rate, temperature fluctuations). The
attacker reviews the result of an encryption function after introducing an error to the
card, and also reviews the correct result, which the card performs when no errors are
introduced. Analysis of these different results may allow an attacker to reverse-engineer
the encryption process, with the hope of uncovering the encryption key. This type of
attack is referred to as fault generation.
Side-channel attacks are nonintrusive and are used to uncover sensitive information
about how a component works, without trying to compromise any type of flaw or
weakness. As an analogy, suppose you want to figure out what your boss does each day

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

202
at lunch time but you feel too uncomfortable to ask her. So you follow her, and you see
she enters a building holding a small black bag and exits exactly 45 minutes later with
the same bag and her hair not looking as great as when she went in. You keep doing this
day after day and come to the conclusion that she must be working out. Now you could
have simply read the sign on the building that said “Gym,” but we will give you the
benefit of the doubt here and just not call you for any further private investigator work.
So a noninvasive attack is one in which the attacker watches how something works
and how it reacts in different situations instead of trying to “invade” it with more intrusive measures. Some examples of side-channel attacks that have been carried out on
smart cards are differential power analysis (examining the power emissions released during processing), electromagnetic analysis (examining the frequencies emitted), and timing
(how long a specific process takes to complete). These types of attacks are used to uncover sensitive information about how a component works without trying to compromise any type of flaw or weakness. They are commonly used for data collection. Attackers
monitor and capture the analog characteristics of all supply and interface connections
and any other electromagnetic radiation produced by the processor during normal operation. They can also collect the time it takes for the smart card to carry out its function.
From the collected data, the attacker can deduce specific information she is after, which
could be a private key, sensitive financial data, or an encryption key stored on the card.
Software attacks are also considered noninvasive attacks. A smart card has software
just like any other device that does data processing, and anywhere there is software there
is the possibility of software flaws that can be exploited. The main goal of this type of
attack is to input instructions into the card that will allow the attacker to extract account
information, which he can use to make fraudulent purchases. Many of these types of
attacks can be disguised by using equipment that looks just like the legitimate reader.
If you would like to be more intrusive in your smart card attack, give microprobing
a try. Microprobing uses needleless and ultrasonic vibration to remove the outer protective material on the card’s circuits. Once this is completed, data can be accessed and
manipulated by directly tapping into the card’s ROM chips.

Interoperability
In the industry today, lack of interoperability is a big problem. Although vendors
claim to be “compliant with ISO/IEC 14443,” many have developed technologies
and methods in a more proprietary fashion. The lack of true standardization has
caused some large problems because smart cards are being used for so many different applications. In the United States, the DoD is rolling out smart cards across
all of their agencies, and NIST is developing a framework and conformance testing programs specifically for interoperability issues.
An ISO/IEC standard, 14443, outlines the following items for smart card
standardization:
• ISO/IEC 14443-1 Physical characteristics
• ISO/IEC 14443-3 Initialization and anticollision
• ISO/IEC 14443-4 Transmission protocol

Chapter 3: Access Control

203
Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID)
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a technology that provides data communication through the use of radio waves. An object contains an electronic tag,
which can be identified and communicated with through a reader. The tag has an
integrated circuit for storing and processing data, modulating and demodulating
a radio-frequency (RF) signal, and other specialized functions. The reader has a
built-in antenna for receiving and transmitting the signal. This type of technology
can be integrated into smart cards or other mobile transport mechanisms for access control purposes. A common security issue with RFID is that the data can be
captured as it moves from the tag to the reader. While encryption can be integrated as a countermeasure, it is not common because RFID is implemented in
technology that has low processing capabilities and encryption is very processorintensive.

Authorization
Now that I know who you are, let’s see if I will let you do what you want.
Although authentication and authorization are quite different, together they comprise a two-step process that determines whether an individual is allowed to access a
particular resource. In the first step, authentication, the individual must prove to the
system that he is who he claims to be—a permitted system user. After successful authentication, the system must establish whether the user is authorized to access the particular resource and what actions he is permitted to perform on that resource.
Authorization is a core component of every operating system, but applications, security add-on packages, and resources themselves can also provide this functionality.
For example, suppose Marge has been authenticated through the authentication server
and now wants to view a spreadsheet that resides on a file server. When she finds this
spreadsheet and double-clicks the icon, she will see an hourglass instead of a mouse
pointer. At this stage, the file server is seeing if Marge has the rights and permissions to
view the requested spreadsheet. It also checks to see if Marge can modify, delete, move,
or copy the file. Once the file server searches through an access matrix and finds that
Marge does indeed have the necessary rights to view this file, the file opens up on
Marge’s desktop. The decision of whether or not to allow Marge to see this file was
based on access criteria. Access criteria are the crux of authentication.

Access Criteria
You can perform that action only because we like you and you wear a funny hat.
We have gone over the basics of access control. This subject can get very granular in
its level of detail when it comes to dictating what a subject can or cannot do to an object
or resource. This is a good thing for network administrators and security professionals,
because they want to have as much control as possible over the resources they have been
put in charge of protecting, and a fine level of detail enables them to give individuals just

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

204
the precise level of access they need. It would be frustrating if access control permissions
were based only on full control or no access. These choices are very limiting, and an
administrator would end up giving everyone full control, which would provide no protection. Instead, different ways of limiting access to resources exist, and if they are understood and used properly, they can give just the right level of access desired.
Granting access rights to subjects should be based on the level of trust a company
has in a subject and the subject’s need-to-know. Just because a company completely
trusts Joyce with its files and resources does not mean she fulfills the need-to-know
criteria to access the company’s tax returns and profit margins. If Maynard fulfills the
need-to-know criteria to access employees’ work histories, it does not mean the company trusts him to access all of the company’s other files. These issues must be identified and integrated into the access criteria. The different access criteria can be enforced
by roles, groups, location, time, and transaction types.
Using roles is an efficient way to assign rights to a type of user who performs a certain task. This role is based on a job assignment or function. If there is a position
within a company for a person to audit transactions and audit logs, the role this person
fills would only need a read function to those types of files. This role would not need
full control, modify, or delete privileges.
Using groups is another effective way of assigning access control rights. If several
users require the same type of access to information and resources, putting them into
a group and then assigning rights and permissions to that group is easier to manage
than assigning rights and permissions to each and every individual separately. If a
specific printer is available only to the accounting group, when a user attempts to print
to it, the group membership of the user will be checked to see if she is indeed in the
accounting group. This is one way that access control is enforced through a logical access control mechanism.
Physical or logical location can also be used to restrict access to resources. Some files
may be available only to users who can log on interactively to a computer. This means
the user must be physically at the computer and enter the credentials locally versus logging on remotely from another computer. This restriction is implemented on several
server configurations to restrict unauthorized individuals from being able to get in and
reconfigure the server remotely.
Logical location restrictions are usually done through network address restrictions.
If a network administrator wants to ensure that status requests of an intrusion detection
management console are accepted only from certain computers on the network, the
network administrator can configure this within the software.
Time of day, or temporal isolation, is another access control mechanism that can be
used. If a security professional wants to ensure no one is accessing payroll files between
the hours of 8:00 P.M. and 4:00 A.M., that configuration can be implemented to ensure
access at these times is restricted. If the same security professional wants to ensure no
bank account transactions happen during days on which the bank is not open, she can
indicate in the logical access control mechanism this type of action is prohibited on
Sundays.

Chapter 3: Access Control

205
Temporal access can also be based on the creation date of a resource. Let’s say Russell started working for his company in March 2011. There may be a business need to
allow Russell to only access files that have been created after this date and not before.
Transaction-type restrictions can be used to control what data is accessed during
certain types of functions and what commands can be carried out on the data. An online banking program may allow a customer to view his account balance, but may not
allow the customer to transfer money until he has a certain security level or access right.
A bank teller may be able to cash checks of up to $2,000, but would need a supervisor’s
access code to retrieve more funds for a customer. A database administrator may be able
to build a database for the human resources department, but may not be able to read
certain confidential files within that database. These are all examples of transactiontype restrictions to control the access to data and resources.

Default to No Access
If you’re unsure, just say no.
Access control mechanisms should default to no access so as to provide the necessary level of security and ensure no security holes go unnoticed. A wide range of access
levels is available to assign to individuals and groups, depending on the application
and/or operating system. A user can have read, change, delete, full control, or no access
permissions. The statement that security mechanisms should default to no access
means that if nothing has been specifically configured for an individual or the group
she belongs to, that user should not be able to access that resource. If access is not explicitly allowed, it should be implicitly denied. Security is all about being safe, and this
is the safest approach to practice when dealing with access control methods and mechanisms. In other words, all access controls should be based on the concept of starting
with zero access, and building on top of that. Instead of giving access to everything, and
then taking away privileges based on need to know, the better approach is to start with
nothing and add privileges based on need to know.
Most access control lists (ACLs) that work on routers and packet-filtering firewalls
default to no access. Figure 3-11 shows that traffic from Subnet A is allowed to access
Subnet B, traffic from Subnet D is not allowed to access Subnet A, and Subnet B is allowed to talk to Subnet A. All other traffic transmission paths not listed here are not
allowed by default. Subnet D cannot talk to Subnet B because such access is not explicitly indicated in the router’s ACL.

Need to Know
If you need to know, I will tell you. If you don’t need to know, leave me alone.
The need-to-know principle is similar to the least-privilege principle. It is based on
the concept that individuals should be given access only to the information they absolutely require in order to perform their job duties. Giving any more rights to a user just
asks for headaches and the possibility of that user abusing the permissions assigned to
him. An administrator wants to give a user the least amount of privileges she can, but
just enough for that user to be productive when carrying out tasks. Management will

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

206

Figure 3-11 What is not explicitly allowed should be implicitly denied.

decide what a user needs to know, or what access rights are necessary, and the administrator will configure the access control mechanisms to allow this user to have that level
of access and no more, and thus the least privilege.
For example, if management has decided that Dan, the copy boy, needs to know
where the files he needs to copy are located and needs to be able to print them, this
fulfills Dan’s need-to-know criteria. Now, an administrator could give Dan full control
of all the files he needs to copy, but that would not be practicing the least-privilege
principle. The administrator should restrict Dan’s rights and permissions to only allow
him to read and print the necessary files, and no more. Besides, if Dan accidentally
deletes all the files on the whole file server, whom do you think management will hold
ultimately responsible? Yep, the administrator.
It is important to understand that it is management’s job to determine the security
requirements of individuals and how access is authorized. The security administrator
configures the security mechanisms to fulfill these requirements, but it is not her job to
determine security requirements of users. Those should be left to the owners. If there is
a security breach, management will ultimately be held responsible, so it should make
these decisions in the first place.

Chapter 3: Access Control

207
Authorization Creep
I think Mike’s a creep. Let’s not give him any authorization to access company stuff.
Response: Sounds like a great criterion. All creeps—no access.
As employees work at a company over time and move from one department
to another, they often are assigned more and more access rights and permissions.
This is commonly referred to as authorization creep. It can be a large risk for a
company, because too many users have too much privileged access to company
assets. In the past, it has usually been easier for network administrators to give
more access than less, because then the user would not come back and require
more work to be done on her profile. It is also difficult to know the exact access
levels different individuals require. This is why user management and user provisioning are becoming more prevalent in identity management products today
and why companies are moving more toward role-based access control implementation. Enforcing least privilege on user accounts should be an ongoing job,
which means each user’s rights are permissions that should be reviewed to ensure
the company is not putting itself at risk.
NOTE Rights and permission reviews have been incorporated into
many regulatory-induced processes. As part of the SOX regulations,
managers have to review their employees’ permissions to data on an
annual basis.

Single Sign-On
I only want to have to remember one username and one password for everything in the world!
Many times employees need to access many different computers, servers, databases,
and other resources in the course of a day to complete their tasks. This often requires
the employees to remember multiple user IDs and passwords for these different computers. In a utopia, a user would need to enter only one user ID and one password to
be able to access all resources in all the networks this user is working in. In the real
world, this is hard to accomplish for all system types.
Because of the proliferation of client/server technologies, networks have migrated
from centrally controlled networks to heterogeneous, distributed environments. The
propagation of open systems and the increased diversity of applications, platforms, and
operating systems have caused the end user to have to remember several user IDs and
passwords just to be able to access and use the different resources within his own network. Although the different IDs and passwords are supposed to provide a greater level of
security, they often end up compromising security (because users write them down) and
causing more effort and overhead for the staff that manages and maintains the network.
As any network staff member or administrator can attest to, too much time is devoted to resetting passwords for users who have forgotten them. More than one employee’s productivity is affected when forgotten passwords have to be reassigned. The
network staff member who has to reset the password could be working on other tasks,
and the user who forgot the password cannot complete his task until the network staff
member is finished resetting the password. Many help-desk employees report that a

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

208
majority of their time is spent on users forgetting their passwords. System administrators have to manage multiple user accounts on different platforms, which all need to be
coordinated in a manner that maintains the integrity of the security policy. At times the
complexity can be overwhelming, which results in poor access control management
and the generation of many security vulnerabilities. A lot of time is spent on multiple
passwords, and in the end they do not provide us with more security.
The increased cost of managing a diverse environment, security concerns, and user
habits, coupled with the users’ overwhelming desire to remember one set of credentials,
has brought about the idea of single sign-on (SSO) capabilities. These capabilities
would allow a user to enter credentials one time and be able to access all resources in
primary and secondary network domains. This reduces the amount of time users spend
authenticating to resources and enables the administrator to streamline user accounts
and better control access rights. It improves security by reducing the probability that
users will write down passwords and also reduces the administrator’s time spent on
adding and removing user accounts and modifying access permissions. If an administrator needs to disable or suspend a specific account, she can do it uniformly instead of
having to alter configurations on each and every platform.
So that is our utopia: log on once and you are good to go. What bursts this bubble?
Mainly interoperability issues. For SSO to actually work, every platform, application, and
resource needs to accept the same type of credentials, in the same format, and interpret
their meanings the same. When Steve logs on to his Windows XP workstation and gets
authenticated by a mixed-mode Windows 2000 domain controller, it must authenticate
him to the resources he needs to access on the Apple computer, the Unix server running
NIS, the mainframe host server, the MICR print server, and the Windows XP computer in
the secondary domain that has the plotter connected to it. A nice idea, until reality hits.

Chapter 3: Access Control

209
There is also a security issue to consider in an SSO environment. Once an individual is in, he is in. If an attacker was able to uncover one credential set, he would have
access to every resource within the environment that the compromised account has
access to. This is certainly true, but one of the goals is that if a user only has to remember one password, and not ten, then a more robust password policy can be enforced. If
the user has just one password to remember, then it can be more complicated and secure because he does not have nine other ones to remember also.
SSO technologies come in different types. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, shortcomings, and quality features. It is rare to see a real SSO environment;
rather, you will see a cluster of computers and resources that accept the same credentials. Other resources, however, still require more work by the administrator or user side
to access the systems. The SSO technologies that may be addressed in the CISSP exam
are described in the next sections.

Kerberos
Sam, there is a three-headed dog in front of the server!
Kerberos is the name of a three-headed dog that guards the entrance to the underworld in Greek mythology. This is a great name for a security technology that provides
authentication functionality, with the purpose of protecting a company’s assets. Kerberos is an authentication protocol and was designed in the mid-1980s as part of MIT’s
Project Athena. It works in a client/server model and is based on symmetric key cryptography. The protocol has been used for years in Unix systems and is currently the
default authentication method for Windows 2000, 2003, and 2008 operating systems.
In addition, Apple’s Mac OS X, Sun’s Solaris, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux all use
Kerberos authentication. Commercial products supporting Kerberos are becoming
more frequent, so this one might be a keeper.
Kerberos is an example of a single sign-on system for distributed environments, and
is a de facto standard for heterogeneous networks. Kerberos incorporates a wide range
of security capabilities, which gives companies much more flexibility and scalability
when they need to provide an encompassing security architecture. It has four elements
necessary for enterprise access control: scalability, transparency, reliability, and security.
However, this open architecture also invites interoperability issues. When vendors have
a lot of freedom to customize a protocol, it usually means no two vendors will customize it in the same fashion. This creates interoperability and incompatibility issues.
Kerberos uses symmetric key cryptography and provides end-to-end security. Although it allows the use of passwords for authentication, it was designed specifically to
eliminate the need to transmit passwords over the network. Most Kerberos implementations work with shared secret keys.
Main Components in Kerberos The Key Distribution Center (KDC) is the most
important component within a Kerberos environment. The KDC holds all users’ and
services’ secret keys. It provides an authentication service, as well as key distribution
functionality. The clients and services trust the integrity of the KDC, and this trust is the
foundation of Kerberos security.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

210
The KDC provides security services to principals, which can be users, applications,
or network services. The KDC must have an account for, and share a secret key with,
each principal. For users, a password is transformed into a secret key value. The secret
key can be used to send sensitive data back and forth between the principal and the
KDC, and is used for user authentication purposes.
A ticket is generated by the ticket granting service (TGS) on the KDC and given to a
principal when that principal, let’s say a user, needs to authenticate to another principal, let’s say a print server. The ticket enables one principal to authenticate to another
principal. If Emily needs to use the print server, she must prove to the print server she
is who she claims to be and that she is authorized to use the printing service. So Emily
requests a ticket from the TGS. The TGS gives Emily the ticket, and in turn, Emily passes this ticket on to the print server. If the print server approves this ticket, Emily is allowed to use the print service.
A KDC provides security services for a set of principals. This set is called a realm in
Kerberos. The KDC is the trusted authentication server for all users, applications, and
services within a realm. One KDC can be responsible for one realm or several realms.
Realms are used to allow an administrator to logically group resources and users.
So far, we know that principals (users and services) require the KDC’s services to
authenticate to each other; that the KDC has a database filled with information about
each and every principal within its realm; that the KDC holds and delivers cryptographic keys and tickets; and that tickets are used for principals to authenticate to each other.
So how does this process work?
The Kerberos Authentication Process The user and the KDC share a secret
key, while the service and the KDC share a different secret key. The user and the requested service do not share a symmetric key in the beginning. The user trusts the KDC
because they share a secret key. They can encrypt and decrypt data they pass between
each other, and thus have a protected communication path. Once the user authenticates to the service, they, too, will share a symmetric key (session key) that is used for
authentication purposes.
Here are the exact steps:
1. Emily comes in to work and enters her username and password into her
workstation at 8:00 A.M.
The Kerberos software on Emily’s computer sends the username to the
authentication service (AS) on the KDC, which in turn sends Emily a ticket
granting ticket (TGT) that is encrypted with Emily’s password (secret key).
2. If Emily has entered her correct password, then this TGT is decrypted and
Emily gains access to her local workstation desktop.
3. When Emily needs to send a print job to the print server, her system sends
the TGT to the ticket granting service (TGS), which runs on the KDC, and a
request to access the print server. (The TGT allows Emily to prove she has been
authenticated and allows her to request access to the print server.)
4. The TGS creates and sends a second ticket to Emily, which she will use to
authenticate to the print server. This second ticket contains two instances of

Chapter 3: Access Control

211
the same session key, one encrypted with Emily’s secret key and the other
encrypted with the print server’s secret key. The second ticket also contains
an authenticator, which contains identification information on Emily, her
system’s IP address, sequence number, and a timestamp.
5. Emily’s system receives the second ticket, decrypts and extracts the embedded
session key, adds a second authenticator set of identification information to
the ticket, and sends the ticket on to the print server.
6. The print server receives the ticket, decrypts and extracts the session key, and
decrypts and extracts the two authenticators in the ticket. If the print server
can decrypt and extract the session key, it knows the KDC created the ticket,
because only the KDC has the secret key used to encrypt the session key. If
the authenticator information that the KDC and the user put into the ticket
matches, then the print server knows it received the ticket from the correct
principal.
7. Once this is completed, it means Emily has been properly authenticated to
the print server and the server prints her document.
This is an extremely simplistic overview of what is going on in any Kerberos exchange, but it gives you an idea of the dance taking place behind the scenes whenever
you interact with any network service in an environment that uses Kerberos. Figure 3-12
provides a simplistic view of this process.

Figure 3-12 The user must receive a ticket from the KDC before being able to use the requested
resource.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

212
The authentication service is the part of the KDC that authenticates a principal, and
the TGS is the part of the KDC that makes the tickets and hands them out to the principals. TGTs are used so the user does not have to enter his password each time he needs
to communicate with another principal. After the user enters his password, it is temporarily stored on his system, and any time the user needs to communicate with another
principal, he just reuses the TGT.
Be sure you understand that a session key is different from a secret key. A secret key
is shared between the KDC and a principal and is static in nature. A session key is
shared between two principals and is generated when needed and destroyed after the
session is completed.
If a Kerberos implementation is configured to use an authenticator, the user sends
to the print server her identification information and a timestamp and sequence number encrypted with the session key they share. The print server decrypts this information
and compares it with the identification data the KDC sent to it about this requesting
user. If the data is the same, the print server allows the user to send print jobs. The timestamp is used to help fight against replay attacks. The print server compares the sent
timestamp with its own internal time, which helps determine if the ticket has been
sniffed and copied by an attacker and then submitted at a later time in hopes of impersonating the legitimate user and gaining unauthorized access. The print server checks
the sequence number to make sure that this ticket has not been submitted previously.
This is another countermeasure to protect against replay attacks.
NOTE A replay attack is when an attacker captures and resubmits data
(commonly a credential) with the goal of gaining unauthorized access to
an asset.
The primary reason to use Kerberos is that the principals do not trust each other
enough to communicate directly. In our example, the print server will not print anyone’s print job without that entity authenticating itself. So none of the principals trust
each other directly; they only trust the KDC. The KDC creates tickets to vouch for the
individual principals when they need to communicate. Suppose I need to communicate directly with you, but you do not trust me enough to listen and accept what I am
saying. If I first give you a ticket from something you do trust (KDC), this basically says,
“Look, the KDC says I am a trustworthy person. The KDC asked me to give this ticket to
you to prove it.” Once that happens, then you will communicate directly with me.
The same type of trust model is used in PKI environments. (More information on
PKI is presented in Chapter 7.) In a PKI environment, users do not trust each other directly, but they all trust the certificate authority (CA). The CA vouches for the individuals’ identities by using digital certificates, the same as the KDC vouches for the
individuals’ identities by using tickets.
So why are we talking about Kerberos? Because it is one example of a single sign-on
technology. The user enters a user ID and password one time and one time only. The

Chapter 3: Access Control

213
tickets have time limits on them that administrators can configure. Many times, the
lifetime of a TGT is eight to ten hours, so when the user comes in the next day, he will
have to present his credentials again.
NOTE Kerberos is an open protocol, meaning that vendors can manipulate
it to work properly within their products and environments. The industry
has different “flavors” of Kerberos, since various vendors require different
functionality.
Weaknesses of Kerberos The following are some of the potential weaknesses of
Kerberos:
• The KDC can be a single point of failure. If the KDC goes down, no one can
access needed resources. Redundancy is necessary for the KDC.
• The KDC must be able to handle the number of requests it receives in a timely
manner. It must be scalable.
• Secret keys are temporarily stored on the users’ workstations, which means it
is possible for an intruder to obtain these cryptographic keys.
• Session keys are decrypted and reside on the users’ workstations, either in a
cache or in a key table. Again, an intruder can capture these keys.
• Kerberos is vulnerable to password guessing. The KDC does not know if a
dictionary attack is taking place.
• Network traffic is not protected by Kerberos if encryption is not enabled.
• If the keys are too short, they can be vulnerable to brute force attacks.
• Kerberos needs all client and server clocks to be synchronized.
Kerberos must be transparent (work in the background without the user needing to
understand it), scalable (work in large, heterogeneous environments), reliable (use distributed server architecture to ensure there is no single point of failure), and secure
(provide authentication and confidentiality).

Kerberos and Password-Guessing Attacks
Just because an environment uses Kerberos does not mean the systems are vulnerable to password-guessing attacks. The operating system itself will (should)
provide the protection of tracking failed login attempts. The Kerberos protocol
does not have this type of functionality, so another component must be in place
to counter these types of attacks. No need to start ripping Kerberos out of your
network environment after reading this section; your operating system provides
the protection mechanism for this type of attack.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

214
SESAME
I said, “Open Sesame,” and nothing happened.
Response: It is broken then.
The Secure European System for Applications in a Multi-vendor Environment (SESAME)
project is a single sign-on technology developed to extend Kerberos functionality and
improve upon its weaknesses. SESAME uses symmetric and asymmetric cryptographic
techniques to authenticate subjects to network resources.
NOTE Kerberos is a strictly symmetric key–based technology, whereas
SESAME is based on both asymmetric and symmetric key cryptography.

Kerberos uses tickets to authenticate subjects to objects, whereas SESAME uses Privileged Attribute Certificates (PACs), which contain the subject’s identity, access capabilities for the object, access time period, and lifetime of the PAC. The PAC is digitally
signed so the object can validate it came from the trusted authentication server, which
is referred to as the Privileged Attribute Server (PAS). The PAS holds a similar role to
that of the KDC within Kerberos. After a user successfully authenticates to the authentication service (AS), he is presented with a token to give to the PAS. The PAS then creates a PAC for the user to present to the resource he is trying to access. Figure 3-13
shows a basic overview of the SESAME process.
NOTE Kerberos and SESAME can be accessed through the Generic
Security Services Application Programming Interface (GSS-API), which is a
generic API for client-to-server authentication. Using standard APIs enables
vendors to communicate with and use each other’s functionality and security.
Kerberos Version 5 and SESAME implementations allow any application to
use their authentication functionality as long as the application knows how to
communicate via GSS-API.
The SESAME technology is currently in version 4, and while it can be implemented
as a full SSO solution within its own right, it can also be integrated as an “add on” to
Kerberos. SESAME can be added to provide the functionality of public key cryptography and role-based access control.

Security Domains
I am highly trusted and have access to many resources.
Response: So what.
The term “domain” has been around a lot longer than Microsoft, but when people
hear this term, they often think of a set of computers and devices on a network segment
being controlled by a server that runs Microsoft software, referred to as a domain controller. A domain is really just a set of resources available to a subject. Remember that a
subject can be a user, process, or application. Within an operating system, a process has

Chapter 3: Access Control

215

Figure 3-13 SESAME is very similar to Kerberos.

a domain, which is the set of system resources available to the process to carry out its
tasks. These resources can be memory segments, hard drive space, operating system
services, and other processes. In a network environment, a domain is a set of physical
and logical resources that is available, which can include routers, file servers, FTP service, web servers, and so forth.
The term security domain just builds upon the definition of domain by adding the fact
that resources within this logical structure (domain) are working under the same security
policy and managed by the same group. So, a network administrator may put all of the
accounting personnel, computers, and network resources in Domain 1 and all of
the management personnel, computers, and network resources in Domain 2. These items
fall into these individual containers because they not only carry out similar types of business functions, but also, and more importantly, have the same type of trust level. It is this
common trust level that allows entities to be managed by one single security policy.
The different domains are separated by logical boundaries, such as firewalls with
ACLs, directory services making access decisions, and objects that have their own ACLs
indicating which individuals and groups can carry out operations on them. All of these
security mechanisms are examples of components that enforce the security policy for
each domain.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

216
Domains can be architected in a hierarchical manner that dictates the relationship
between the different domains and the ways in which subjects within the different domains can communicate. Subjects can access resources in domains of equal or lower trust
levels. Figure 3-14 shows an example of hierarchical network domains. Their communication channels are controlled by security agents (firewalls, router ACLs, directory services), and the individual domains are isolated by using specific subnet mask addresses.
Remember that a domain does not necessarily pertain only to network devices and
segmentations, but can also apply to users and processes. Figure 3-15 shows how users
and processes can have more granular domains assigned to them individually based
on their trust level. Group 1 has a high trust level and can access both a domain of its
own trust level (Domain 1) and a domain of a lower trust level (Domain 2). User 1,
who has a lower trust level, can access only the domain at his trust level and nothing
higher. The system enforces these domains with access privileges and rights provided
by the file system and operating system security kernel.

Figure 3-14 Network domains are used to separate different network segments.

Chapter 3: Access Control

217

Figure 3-15 Subjects can access specific domains based on their trust levels.

So why are domains in the “Single Sign-On” section? Because several different types
of technologies available today are used to define and enforce these domains and security policies mapped to them: domain controllers in a Windows environment, enterprise resource management (ERM) products, Microsoft Passport (now Windows Live
ID), and the various products that provide SSO functionality. The goal of each of them
is to allow a user (subject) to sign in one time and be able to access the different domains available without having to reenter any other credentials.

Directory Services
While we covered directory services in the “Identity Management” section, it is also
important for you to realize that it is considered a single sign-on technology in its own
right, so we will review the characteristics again within this section.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

218
A network service is a mechanism that identifies resources (printers, file servers,
domain controllers, and peripheral devices) on a network. A network directory service
contains information about these different resources, and the subjects that need to access them, and carries out access control activities. If the directory service is working in
a database based on the X.500 standard, it works in a hierarchical schema that outlines
the resources’ attributes, such as name, logical and physical location, subjects that can
access them, and the operations that can be carried out on them.
In a database based on the X.500 standard, access requests are made from users and
other systems using the LDAP protocol. This type of database provides a hierarchical
structure for the organization of objects (subjects and resources). The directory service
develops unique distinguished names for each object and appends the corresponding
attribute to each object as needed. The directory service enforces a security policy (configured by the administrator) to control how subjects and objects interact.
Network directory services provide users access to network resources transparently,
meaning that users don’t need to know the exact location of the resources or the steps
required to access them. The network directory services handle these issues for the user
in the background. Some examples of directory services are Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), Novell NetWare Directory Service (NDS), and Microsoft Active
Directory (AD).

Thin Clients
Hey, where’s my operating system?
Response: You don’t deserve one.
Diskless computers and thin clients cannot store much information because of
their lack of onboard storage space and necessary resources. This type of client/server
technology forces users to log on to a central server just to use the computer and access
network resources. When the user starts the computer, it runs a short list of instructions
and then points itself to a server that will actually download the operating system, or
interactive operating software, to the terminal. This enforces a strict type of access control, because the computer cannot do anything on its own until it authenticates to a
centralized server, and then the server gives the computer its operating system, profile,
and functionality. Thin-client technology provides another type of SSO access for users
because users authenticate only to the central server or mainframe, which then provides
them access to all authorized and necessary resources.
In addition to providing an SSO solution, a thin-client technology offers several
other advantages. A company can save money by purchasing thin clients instead of
powerful and expensive PCs. The central server handles all application execution, processing, and data storage. The thin client displays the graphical representation and
sends mouse clicks and keystroke inputs to the central server. Having all of the software
in one location, instead of distributed throughout the environment, allows for easier
administration, centralized access control, easier updates, and standardized configura-

Chapter 3: Access Control

219
Examples of Single Sign-On Technologies
• Kerberos Authentication protocol that uses a KDC and tickets, and is
based on symmetric key cryptography
• SESAME Authentication protocol that uses a PAS and PACs, and is
based on symmetric and asymmetric cryptography
• Security domains Resources working under the same security policy
and managed by the same group
• Directory services Technology that allows resources to be named in
a standardized manner and access control to be maintained centrally
• Thin clients Terminals that rely upon a central server for access
control, processing, and storage

tions. It is also easier to control malware infestations and the theft of confidential data
because the thin clients often do not have CD-ROM, DVD, or USB ports.
NOTE The technology industry came from a centralized model, with the
use of mainframes and dumb terminals, and is in some ways moving back
toward this model with the use of terminal services, Citrix, Service Oriented
Architecture, and cloud computing.

Access Control Models
An access control model is a framework that dictates how subjects access objects. It uses
access control technologies and security mechanisms to enforce the rules and objectives of the model. There are three main types of access control models: discretionary,
mandatory, and role based. Each model type uses different methods to control how
subjects access objects, and each has its own merits and limitations. The business and
security goals of an organization will help prescribe what access control model it should
use, along with the culture of the company and the habits of conducting business.
Some companies use one model exclusively, whereas others combine them to be able
to provide the necessary level of protection.
These models are built into the core or the kernel of the different operating systems
and possibly their supporting applications. Every operating system has a security kernel
that enforces a reference monitor concept, which differs depending upon the type of
access control model embedded into the system. For every access attempt, before a
subject can communicate with an object, the security kernel reviews the rules of the access control model to determine whether the request is allowed.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

220
The following sections explain these different models, their supporting technologies, and where they should be implemented.

Discretionary Access Control
Only I can let you access my files.
Response: Mother, may I?
If a user creates a file, he is the owner of that file. An identifier for this user is placed
in the file header and/or in an access control matrix within the operating system. Ownership might also be granted to a specific individual. For example, a manager for a certain department might be made the owner of the files and resources within her
department. A system that uses discretionary access control (DAC) enables the owner of
the resource to specify which subjects can access specific resources. This model is called
discretionary because the control of access is based on the discretion of the owner.
Many times department managers, or business unit managers, are the owners of the
data within their specific department. Being the owner, they can specify who should
have access and who should not.
In a DAC model, access is restricted based on the authorization granted to the users.
This means users are allowed to specify what type of access can occur to the objects they
own. If an organization is using a DAC model, the network administrator can allow
resource owners to control who has access to their files. The most common implementation of DAC is through ACLs, which are dictated and set by the owners and enforced
by the operating system. This can make a user’s ability to access information dynamic
versus the more static role of mandatory access control (MAC).
Most of the operating systems you may be used to dealing with are based on DAC
models, such as all Windows, Linux, and Macintosh systems, and most flavors of Unix.
When you look at the properties of a file or directory and see the choices that allow you
to control which users can have access to this resource and to what degree, you are witnessing an instance of ACLs enforcing a DAC model.
DACs can be applied to both the directory tree structure and the files it contains.
The PC world has access permissions of No Access, Read (r), Write (w), Execute (x),
Delete (d), Change (c), and Full Control. The Read attribute lets you read the file but
not make changes. The Change attribute allows you to read, write, execute, and delete
the file but does not let you change the ACLs or the owner of the files. Obviously, the
attribute of Full Control lets you make any changes to the file and its permissions and
ownership.

Identity-Based Access Control
DAC systems grant or deny access based on the identity of the subject. The identity can be a user identity or a group membership. So, for example, a data owner
can choose to allow Bob (user identity) and the Accounting group (group membership identity) to access his file.

Chapter 3: Access Control

221
While DAC systems provide a lot of flexibility to the user and less administration
for IT, it is also the Achilles heel of operating systems. Malware can install itself and
work under the security context of the user. For example, if a user opens an attachment
that is infected with a virus, the code can install itself in the background without the
user being aware of this activity. This code basically inherits all the rights and permissions that the user has and can carry out all the activities the user can on the system. It
can send copies of itself out to all the contacts listed in the user’s e-mail client, install a
back door, attack other systems, delete files on the hard drive, and more. The user is
actually giving rights to the virus to carry out its dirty deeds, because the user has very
powerful discretionary rights and is considered the owner of many objects on the system. And the fact that many users are assigned local administrator or root accounts
means that once malware is installed, it can do anything on a system.
As we have said before, there is a constant battle between functionality and security.
To allow for the amount of functionality we demand of our operating systems today,
they have to work within a DAC model—but because they work in a DAC model, extensive compromises are always possible.
While we may want to give users some freedom to indicate who can access the files
that they create and other resources on their systems that they are configured to be
“owners” of, we really don’t want them dictating all access decisions in environments
with assets that need to be protected. We just don’t trust them that much, and we
shouldn’t. In most environments user profiles are created and loaded on user workstations that indicate the level of control the user does and does not have. As a security
administrator you might configure user profiles so that users cannot change the system’s time, alter system configuration files, access a command prompt, or install unapproved applications. This type of access control is referred to as nondiscretionary,
meaning that access decisions are not made at the discretion of the user. Nondiscretionary access controls are put into place by an authoritative entity (usually a security administrator) with the goal of protecting the organization’s most critical assets.

Mandatory Access Control
This system holds sensitive, super-duper, secret stuff.
In a mandatory access control (MAC) model, users do not have the discretion of
determining who can access objects as in a DAC model. An operating system that is
based upon a MAC model greatly reduces the amount of rights, permissions, and functionality a user has for security purposes. In most systems based upon the MAC model,
a user cannot install software, change file permissions, add new users, etc. The system
can be used by the user for very focused and specific purposes, and that is it. These systems are usually very specialized and are in place to protected highly classified data.
Most people have never interacted with a MAC-based system because they are used by
government-oriented agencies that maintain top secret information.
The MAC model is much more structured and strict than the DAC model and is
based on a security label system. Users are given a security clearance (secret, top secret,

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

222
confidential, and so on), and data is classified in the same way. The clearance and classification data are stored in the security labels, which are bound to the specific subjects
and objects. When the system makes a decision about fulfilling a request to access an
object, it is based on the clearance of the subject, the classification of the object, and the
security policy of the system. The rules for how subjects access objects are made by the
organization’s security policy, configured by the security administrator, enforced by the
operating system, and supported by security technologies.
NOTE Traditional MAC systems are based upon multilevel security policies,
which outline how data at different classification levels are to be protected.
Multilevel security (MLS) systems allow data at different classification levels
to be accessed and interacted with by users with different clearance levels
simultaneously.
Security labels are attached to all objects; thus, every file, directory, and device has
its own security label with its classification information. A user may have a security
clearance of secret, and the data he requests may have a security label with the classification of top secret. In this case, the user will be denied because his clearance is not
equivalent or does not dominate (is not equal or higher than) the classification of the
object.
NOTE The terms “security labels” and “sensitivity labels” can be used
interchangeably.

Each subject and object must have an associated label with attributes at all times,
because this is part of the operating system’s access-decision criteria. Each subject and
object does not require a physically unique label, but can be logically associated. For
example, all subjects and objects on Server 1 can share the same label of secret clearance
and classification.
This type of model is used in environments where information classification and
confidentiality is of utmost importance, such as military institutions, government agencies, and government contract companies. Special types of Unix systems are developed
based on the MAC model. A company cannot simply choose to turn on either DAC or
MAC. It has to purchase an operating system that has been specifically designed to enforce MAC rules. DAC systems do not understand security labels, classifications, or
clearances, and thus cannot be used in institutions that require this type of structure for
access control. A publicly released MAC system is SE Linux, developed by the NSA and
Secure Computing. Trusted Solaris is a product based on the MAC model that most
people are familiar with (relative to other MAC products).
While MAC systems enforce strict access control, they also provide a wide range of
security, particularly dealing with malware. Malware is the bane of DAC systems. Viruses, worms, and rootkits can be installed and run as applications on DAC systems.

Chapter 3: Access Control

223
Since users that work within a MAC system cannot install software, the operating system does not allow any type of software, including malware, to be installed while the
user is logged in. But while MAC systems might seem an answer to all our security
prayers, they have very limited user functionality, require a lot of administrative overhead, are very expensive, and are not user-friendly. DAC systems are general-purpose
computers, while MAC systems serve a very specific purpose.
NOTE DAC systems are discretionary and MAC systems are considered
nondiscretionary because the users cannot make access decisions based upon
their own discretion (choice).

Sensitivity Labels
I am very sensitive. Can I have a label?
Response: Nope.
When the MAC model is being used, every subject and object must have a sensitivity label, also called a security label. It contains a classification and different categories.
The classification indicates the sensitivity level, and the categories enforce need-toknow rules. Figure 3-16 illustrates a sensitivity label.
The classifications follow a hierarchical structure, with one level being more trusted
than another. However, the categories do not follow a hierarchical scheme, because
they represent compartments of information within a system. The categories can correspond to departments (UN, Information Warfare, Treasury), projects (CRM, AirportSecurity, 2011Budget), or management levels. In a military environment, the
classifications could be top secret, secret, confidential, and unclassified. Each classification is more trusted than the one below it. A commercial organization might use confidential, proprietary, corporate, and sensitive. The definition of the classification is up
to the organization and should make sense for the environment in which it is used.
The categories portion of the label enforces need-to-know rules. Just because someone has a top-secret clearance does not mean she now has access to all top-secret information. She must also have a need to know. As shown in Figure 3-16, if Cheryl has a
top-secret clearance but does not have a need to know that is sufficient to access any of
the listed categories (Dallas, Max, Cricket), she cannot look at this object.
NOTE In MAC implementations, the system makes access decisions by
comparing the subject’s clearance and need-to-know level to the object’s
security label. In DAC, the system compares the subject’s identity to the ACL
on the resource.
Figure 3-16
A sensitivity label
is made up of a
classification and
categories.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

224
Software and hardware guards allow the exchange of data between trusted (high
assurance) and less trusted (low assurance) systems and environments. For instance, if
you were working on a MAC system (working in the dedicated security mode of secret)
and you needed it to communicate to a MAC database (working in multilevel security
mode, which goes up to top secret), the two systems would provide different levels of
protection. If a system with lower assurance can directly communicate with a system of
high assurance, then security vulnerabilities and compromises could be introduced. A
software guard is really just a front-end product that allows interconnectivity between
systems working at different security levels. Different types of guards can be used to
carry out filtering, processing requests, data blocking, and data sanitization. A hardware
guard can be implemented, which is a system with two NICs connecting the two systems that need to communicate with one another. Guards can be used to connect different MAC systems working in different security modes, and they can be used to
connect different networks working at different security levels. In many cases, the less
trusted system can send messages to the more trusted system and can only receive acknowledgments back. This is common when e-mail messages need to go from less
trusted systems to more trusted classified systems.

Role-Based Access Control
I am in charge of chalk; thus, I need full control of all servers!
Response: Good try.
A role-based access control (RBAC) model uses a centrally administrated set of controls to determine how subjects and objects interact. The access control levels can be
based upon the necessary operations and tasks a user needs to carry out to fulfill her
responsibilities without an organization. This type of model lets access to resources be
based on the role the user holds within the company. The more traditional access control administration is based on just the DAC model, where access control is specified
at the object level with ACLs. This approach is more complex because the administrator must translate an organizational authorization policy into permission when configuring ACLs. As the number of objects and users grows within an environment, users
are bound to be granted unnecessary access to some objects, thus violating the leastprivilege rule and increasing the risk to the company. The RBAC approach simplifies
access control administration by allowing permissions to be managed in terms of user
job roles.
In an RBAC model, a role is defined in terms of the operations and tasks the role
will carry out, whereas a DAC model outlines which subjects can access what objects
based upon the individual user identity.
Let’s say we need a research and development analyst role. We develop this role not
only to allow an individual to have access to all product and testing data, but also, and
more importantly, to outline the tasks and operations that the role can carry out on this
data. When the analyst role makes a request to access the new testing results on the file
server, in the background the operating system reviews the role’s access levels before
allowing this operation to take place.

Chapter 3: Access Control

225
NOTE Introducing roles also introduces the difference between rights
being assigned explicitly and implicitly. If rights and permissions are assigned
explicitly, it indicates they are assigned directly to a specific individual. If they
are assigned implicitly, it indicates they are assigned to a role or group and the
user inherits those attributes.
An RBAC model is the best system for a company that has high employee turnover.
If John, who is mapped to the contractor role, leaves the company, then Chrissy, his
replacement, can be easily mapped to this role. That way, the administrator does not
need to continually change the ACLs on the individual objects. He only needs to create
a role (contractor), assign permissions to this role, and map the new user to this role.
As discussed in the “Identity Management” section, organizations are moving more
toward role-based access models to properly control identity and provisioning activities. The formal RBAC model has several approaches to security that can be used in
software and organizations.

Core RBAC
This component will be integrated in every RBAC implementation because it is the
foundation of the model. Users, roles, permissions, operations, and sessions are defined and mapped according to the security policy.
• Has a many-to-many relationship among individual users and privileges
• Session is a mapping between a user and a subset of assigned roles
• Accommodates traditional but robust group-based access control
Many users can belong to many groups with various privileges outlined for each
group. When the user logs in (this is a session), the various roles and groups this user
has been assigned will be available to the user at one time. If I am a member of the Accounting role, RD group, and Administrative role, when I log on, all of the permissions
assigned to these various groups are available to me.
This model provides robust options because it can include other components when
making access decisions, instead of just basing the decision on a credential set. The
RBAC system can be configured to also include time of day, location of role, day of the
week, and so on. This means other information, not just the user ID and credential, is
used for access decisions.

Hierarchical RBAC
This component allows the administrator to set up an organizational RBAC model that
maps to the organizational structures and functional delineations required in a specific
environment. This is very useful since businesses are already set up in a personnel hierarchical structure. In most cases, the higher you are in the chain of command, the more
access you will most likely have.
• Role relation defining user membership and privilege inheritance. For
example, the nurse role can access a certain amount of files, and the lab
technician role can access another set of files. The doctor role inherits the

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

226
permissions and access rights of these two roles and has more elevated rights
already assigned to the doctor role. So hierarchical is an accumulation of
rights and permissions of other roles.
• Reflects organizational structures and functional delineations.
• Two types of hierarchies:
• Limited hierarchies—Only one level of hierarchy is allowed (Role 1 inherits
from Role 2 and no other role)
• General hierarchies—Allows for many levels of hierarchies (Role 1 inherits
Role 2 and Role 3’s permissions)
Hierarchies are a natural means of structuring roles to reflect an organization’s lines
of authority and responsibility. Role hierarchies define an inheritance relation among
roles. Different separations of duties are provided under this model.
• Static Separation of Duty (SSD) Relations through RBAC This would be
used to deter fraud by constraining the combination of privileges (such as, the
user cannot be a member of both the Cashier and Accounts Receivable groups).
• Dynamic Separation of Duties (DSD) Relations through RBAC This
would be used to deter fraud by constraining the combination of privileges
that can be activated in any session (for instance, the user cannot be in both
the Cashier and Cashier Supervisor roles at the same time, but the user can
be a member of both). This one is a little more confusing. It means Joe is a
member of both the Cashier and Cashier Supervisor. If he logs in as a Cashier,
the Supervisor role is unavailable to him during that session. If he logs in as
Cashier Supervisor, the Cashier role is unavailable to him during that session.
Role-based access control can be managed in the following ways:
• Non-RBAC

Users are mapped directly to applications and no roles are used.

• Limited RBAC Users are mapped to multiple roles and mapped directly to
other types of applications that do not have role-based access functionality.
• Hybrid RBAC Users are mapped to multiapplication roles with only selected
rights assigned to those roles.
• Full RBAC Users are mapped to enterprise roles.
NOTE The privacy of many different types of data needs to be protected,
which is why many organizations have privacy officers and privacy policies
today. The current access control models (MAC, DAC, RBAC) do not lend
themselves to protecting data of a given sensitivity level, but instead limit the
functions that the users can carry out. For example, managers may be able to
access a Privacy folder, but there needs to be more detailed access control
that indicates that they can access customers’ home addresses but not Social
Security numbers. This is referred to as Privacy Aware Role-Based Access Control.

Chapter 3: Access Control

227
RBAC, MAC, and DAC
A lot of confusion exists regarding whether RBAC is a type of DAC model or a
type of MAC model. Different sources claim different things, but in fact it is a
model in its own right. In the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. military and NSA did a
lot of research on the MAC model. DAC, which also sprang to life in the ’60s and
’70s, has its roots in the academic and commercial research laboratories. The
RBAC model, which started gaining popularity in the 1990s, can be used in combination with MAC and DAC systems. For the most up-to-date information on
the RBAC model, go to http://csrc.nist.gov/rbac, which has documents that describe an RBAC standard and independent model, with the goal of clearing up
this continual confusion.
In reality, operating systems can be created to use one, two, or all three of
these models in some form, but just because they can be used together does not
mean that they are not their own individual models with their own strict access
control rules.

Access Control Models
The main characteristics of the three different access control models are important to understand.
• DAC Data owners decide who has access to resources, and ACLs are
used to enforce these access decisions.
• MAC Operating systems enforce the system’s security policy through
the use of security labels.
• RBAC Access decisions are based on each subject’s role and/or
functional position.

Access Control Techniques and Technologies
Once an organization determines what type of access control model it is going to use,
it needs to identify and refine its technologies and techniques to support that model.
The following sections describe the different access controls and technologies available
to support different access control models.

Rule-Based Access Control
Everyone will adhere to my rules.
Response: Who are you again?
Rule-based access control uses specific rules that indicate what can and cannot happen between a subject and an object. It is based on the simple concept of “if X then Y”
programming rules, which can be used to provide finer-grained access control to resources. Before a subject can access an object in a certain circumstance, it must meet a

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

228
set of predefined rules. This can be simple and straightforward, as in, “If the user’s ID
matches the unique user ID value in the provided digital certificate, then the user can
gain access.” Or there could be a set of complex rules that must be met before a subject
can access an object. For example, “If the user is accessing the system between Monday
and Friday and between 8 A.M. and 5 P.M., and if the user’s security clearance equals or
dominates the object’s classification, and if the user has the necessary need to know,
then the user can access the object.”
Rule-based access control is not necessarily identity-based. The DAC model is identity-based. For example, an identity-based control would stipulate that Tom Jones can
read File1 and modify File2. So when Tom attempts to access one of these files, the
operating system will check his identity and compare it to the values within an ACL to
see if Tom can carry out the operations he is attempting. In contrast, here is a rule-based
example: A company may have a policy that dictates that e-mail attachments can only
be 5MB or smaller. This rule affects all users. If rule-based was identity-based, it would
mean that Sue can accept attachments of 10MB and smaller, Bob can accept attachments 2MB and smaller, and Don can only accept attachments 1MB and smaller. This
would be a mess and too confusing. Rule-based access controls simplify this by setting
a rule that will affect all users across the board—no matter what their identity is.
Rule-based access allows a developer to define specific and detailed situations in
which a subject can or cannot access an object, and what that subject can do once access
is granted. Traditionally, rule-based access control has been used in MAC systems as an
enforcement mechanism of the complex rules of access that MAC systems provide. Today, rule-based access is used in other types of systems and applications as well. Content filtering uses If-Then programming languages, which is a way to compare data or
an activity to a long list of rules. For example, “If an e-mail message contains the word
‘Viagra,’ then disregard. If an e-mail message contains the words ‘sex’ and ‘free,’ then
disregard,” and so on.
Many routers and firewalls use rules to determine which types of packets are allowed into a network and which are rejected. Rule-based access control is a type of
compulsory control, because the administrator sets the rules and the users cannot modify these controls.

Constrained User Interfaces
Constrained user interfaces restrict users’ access abilities by not allowing them to request certain functions or information, or to have access to specific system resources.
Three major types of restricted interfaces exist: menus and shells, database views, and
physically constrained interfaces.
When menu and shell restrictions are used, the options users are given are the commands they can execute. For example, if an administrator wants users to be able to execute only one program, that program would be the only choice available on the menu.
This limits the users’ functionality. A shell is a type of virtual environment within a
system. It is the users’ interface to the operating system and works as a command interpreter. If restricted shells were used, the shell would contain only the commands the
administrator wants the users to be able to execute.

Chapter 3: Access Control

229
Many times, a database administrator will configure a database so users cannot see
fields that require a level of confidentiality. Database views are mechanisms used to restrict user access to data contained in databases. If the database administrator wants
managers to be able to view their employees’ work records but not their salary information, then the salary fields would not be available to these types of users. Similarly, when
payroll employees look at the same database, they will be able to view the salary information but not the work history information. This example is illustrated in Figure 3-17.
Physically constraining a user interface can be implemented by providing only certain keys on a keypad or certain touch buttons on a screen. You see this when you get
money from an ATM machine. This device has a type of operating system that can accept all kinds of commands and configuration changes, but you are physically constrained from being able to carry out these functions. You are presented with buttons
that only enable you to withdraw, view your balance, or deposit funds. Period.

Access Control Matrix
The matrix—let’s see, should I take the red pill or the blue pill?
An access control matrix is a table of subjects and objects indicating what actions
individual subjects can take upon individual objects. Matrices are data structures that
programmers implement as table lookups that will be used and enforced by the operating system. Table 3-1 provides an example of an access control matrix.
This type of access control is usually an attribute of DAC models. The access rights
can be assigned directly to the subjects (capabilities) or to the objects (ACLs).

Capability Table
A capability table specifies the access rights a certain subject possesses pertaining to
specific objects. A capability table is different from an ACL because the subject is bound
to the capability table, whereas the object is bound to the ACL.

Figure 3-17 Different database views of the same tables

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

230
User

File1

File2

File3

Diane

Read and execute

Read, write, and execute

No access

Katie

Read and execute

Read

No access

Chrissy

Read, write, and execute

Read and execute

Read

John

Read and execute

No access

Read and write

Table 3-1 An Example of an Access Control Matrix

The capability corresponds to the subject’s row in the access control matrix. In Table
3-1, Diane’s capabilities are File1: read and execute; File2: read, write, and execute;
File3: no access. This outlines what Diane is capable of doing to each resource. An example of a capability-based system is Kerberos. In this environment, the user is given a
ticket, which is his capability table. This ticket is bound to the user and dictates what
objects that user can access and to what extent. The access control is based on this
ticket, or capability table. Figure 3-18 shows the difference between a capability table
and an ACL.
A capability can be in the form of a token, ticket, or key. When a subject presents a
capability component, the operating system (or application) will review the access
rights and operations outlined in the capability component and allow the subject to
carry out just those functions. A capability component is a data structure that contains
a unique object identifier and the access rights the subject has to that object. The object
may be a file, array, memory segment, or port. Each user, process, and application in a
capability system has a list of capabilities.

Access Control Lists
Access control lists (ACLs) are used in several operating systems, applications, and router
configurations. They are lists of subjects that are authorized to access a specific object,

Figure 3-18 A capability table is bound to a subject, whereas an ACL is bound to an object.

Chapter 3: Access Control

231
Table 3-2
The ACL for File1

User

File1

Diane

Read and execute

Katie

Read and execute

Chrissy

Read, write, and execute

John

Read and execute

and they define what level of authorization is granted. Authorization can be specific to
an individual, group, or role.
ACLs map values from the access control matrix to the object. Whereas a capability
corresponds to a row in the access control matrix, the ACL corresponds to a column of
the matrix. The ACL for File1 in Table 3-1 is shown in Table 3-2.

Content-Dependent Access Control
This is sensitive information, so only Bob and I can look at it.
Response: Well, since Bob is your imaginary friend, I think I can live by that rule.
As the name suggests, with content-dependent access control, access to objects is determined by the content within the object. The earlier example pertaining to database views
showed how content-dependent access control can work. The content of the database
fields dictates which users can see specific information within the database tables.
Content-dependent filtering is used when corporations employ e-mail filters that
look for specific strings, such as “confidential,” “social security number,” “top secret,”
and any other types of words the company deems suspicious. Corporations also have
this in place to control web surfing—where filtering is done to look for specific words—
to try to figure out whether employees are gambling or looking at pornography.

Context-Dependent Access Control
First you kissed a parrot, then you threw your shoe, and then you did a jig. That’s the right sequence; you are allowed access.
Context-dependent access control differs from content-dependent access control in that
it makes access decisions based on the context of a collection of information rather than
on the sensitivity of the data. A system that is using context-dependent access control
“reviews the situation” and then makes a decision. For example, firewalls make contextbased access decisions when they collect state information on a packet before allowing it
into the network. A stateful firewall understands the necessary steps of communication
for specific protocols. For example, in a TCP connection, the sender sends a SYN packet,
the receiver sends a SYN/ACK, and then the sender acknowledges that packet with an

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

232
ACK packet. A stateful firewall understands these different steps and will not allow packets to go through that do not follow this sequence. So, if a stateful firewall receives a SYN/
ACK and there was not a previous SYN packet that correlates with this connection, the
firewall understands this is not right and disregards the packet. This is what stateful
means—something that understands the necessary steps of a dialog session. And this is
an example of context-dependent access control, where the firewall understands the context of what is going on and includes that as part of its access decision.
Some software can track a user’s access requests in sequence and make decisions
based upon the previous access requests. For example, let’s say that we have a database
that contains information about our military’s mission and efforts. A user might have a
Secret clearance, and thus can access data with this level of classification. But if he accesses a data set that indicates a specific military troop location, then accesses a different data set that indicates the new location this military troop will be deployed to, and
then accesses another data set that specifies the types of weapons that are being shipped
to the new troop location, he might be able to figure out information that is classified
as top secret, which is above his classification level. While it is okay that he knows that
there is a military troop located in Kuwait, it is not okay that he knows that this troop
is being deployed to Libya with fully armed drones. This is top secret information that
is outside his clearance level.
To ensure that a user cannot piece these different data sets together and figure out a
secret we don’t want him to know, but still allow him access to specific data sets so he
can carry out his job, we would need to implement software that can track his access
requests. Each access request he makes is based upon his previous requests. So while he
could access data set A, then data set B, he cannot access data sets A, B, and C.

Access Control Administration
Once an organization develops a security policy, supporting procedures, standards, and
guidelines (described in Chapter 2), it must choose the type of access control model:
DAC, MAC, or RBAC. After choosing a model, the organization must select and implement different access control technologies and techniques. Access control matrices; restricted interfaces; and content-dependent, context-dependent, and rule-based controls
are just a few of the choices.
If the environment does not require a high level of security, the organization will
choose discretionary and/or role-based. The DAC model enables data owners to allow
other users to access their resources, so an organization should choose the DAC model
only if it is fully aware of what it entails. If an organization has a high turnover rate and/
or requires a more centralized access control method, the role-based model is more
appropriate. If the environment requires a higher security level and only the administrator should be able to grant access to resources, then a MAC model is the best choice.
What is left to work out is how the organization will administer the access control
model. Access control administration comes in two basic flavors: centralized and decentralized. The decision makers should understand both approaches so they choose
and implement the proper one to achieve the level of protection required.

Chapter 3: Access Control

233
Access Control Techniques
Access control techniques are used to support the access control models.
• Access control matrix Table of subjects and objects that outlines their
access relationships
• Access control list Bound to an object and indicates what subjects
can access it and what operations they can carry out
• Capability table Bound to a subject and indicates what objects that
subject can access and what operations it can carry out
• Content-based access Bases access decisions on the sensitivity of the
data, not solely on subject identity
• Context-based access Bases access decisions on the state of the
situation, not solely on identity or content sensitivity
• Restricted interface Limits the user’s environment within the system,
thus limiting access to objects
• Rule-based access Restricts subjects’ access attempts by predefined rules

Centralized Access Control Administration
I control who can touch the carrots and who can touch the peas.
Response: Could you leave now?
A centralized access control administration method is basically what it sounds like:
one entity (department or individual) is responsible for overseeing access to all corporate resources. This entity configures the mechanisms that enforce access control, processes any changes that are needed to a user’s access control profile; disables access
when necessary; and completely removes these rights when a user is terminated, leaves
the company, or moves to a different position. This type of administration provides a
consistent and uniform method of controlling users’ access rights. It supplies strict control over data because only one entity (department or individual) has the necessary
rights to change access control profiles and permissions. Although this provides for a
more consistent and reliable environment, it can be a slow one, because all changes
must be processed by one entity.
The following sections present some examples of centralized remote access control
technologies. Each of these authentication protocols is referred to as an AAA protocol,
which stands for authentication, authorization, and auditing. (Some resources have the
last A stand for accounting, but it is the same functionality—just a different name.)
Depending upon the protocol, there are different ways to authenticate a user in this
client/server architecture. The traditional authentication protocols are Password Authentication Protocol (PAP), Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP),
and a newer method referred to as Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP). Each of
these authentication protocols is discussed at length in Chapter 6.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

234
RADIUS
So, I have to run across half of a circle to be authenticated?
Response: Don’t know. Give it a try.
Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) is a network protocol that
provides client/server authentication and authorization, and audits remote users. A network may have access servers, a modem pool, DSL, ISDN, or T1 line dedicated for remote users to communicate through. The access server requests the remote user’s logon
credentials and passes them back to a RADIUS server, which houses the usernames and
password values. The remote user is a client to the access server, and the access server is
a client to the RADIUS server.
Most ISPs today use RADIUS to authenticate customers before they are allowed access to the Internet. The access server and customer’s software negotiate through a
handshake procedure and agree upon an authentication protocol (PAP, CHAP, or EAP).
The customer provides to the access server a username and password. This communication takes place over a PPP connection. The access server and RADIUS server communicate over the RADIUS protocol. Once the authentication is completed properly, the
customer’s system is given an IP address and connection parameters, and is allowed
access to the Internet. The access server notifies the RADIUS server when the session
starts and stops, for billing purposes.
RADIUS is also used within corporate environments to provide road warriors and
home users access to network resources. RADIUS allows companies to maintain user
profiles in a central database. When a user dials in and is properly authenticated, a
preconfigured profile is assigned to him to control what resources he can and cannot
access. This technology allows companies to have a single administered entry point,
which provides standardization in security and a simplistic way to track usage and network statistics.
RADIUS was developed by Livingston Enterprises for its network access server product series, but was then published as a standard. This means it is an open protocol that
any vendor can use and manipulate so it will work within its individual products. Because RADIUS is an open protocol, it can be used in different types of implementations. The format of configurations and user credentials can be held in LDAP servers,
various databases, or text files. Figure 3-19 shows some examples of possible RADIUS
implementations.

TACACS
Terminal Access Controller Access Control System (TACACS) has a very funny name. Not
funny ha-ha, but funny “huh?” TACACS has been through three generations: TACACS,
Extended TACACS (XTACACS), and TACACS+. TACACS combines its authentication
and authorization processes; XTACACS separates authentication, authorization, and
auditing processes; and TACACS+ is XTACACS with extended two-factor user authentication. TACACS uses fixed passwords for authentication, while TACACS+ allows users
to employ dynamic (one-time) passwords, which provides more protection.

Chapter 3: Access Control

235

Figure 3-19 Environments can implement different RADIUS infrastructures.

NOTE TACACS+ is really not a new generation of TACACS and XTACACS;
it is a brand-new protocol that provides similar functionality and shares
the same naming scheme. Because it is a totally different protocol, it is not
backward-compatible with TACACS or XTACACS.
TACACS+ provides basically the same functionality as RADIUS with a few differences in some of its characteristics. First, TACACS+ uses TCP as its transport protocol,
while RADIUS uses UDP. “So what?” you may be thinking. Well, any software that is
developed to use UDP as its transport protocol has to be “fatter” with intelligent code
that will look out for the items that UDP will not catch. Since UDP is a connectionless
protocol, it will not detect or correct transmission errors. So RADIUS must have the

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

236
necessary code to detect packet corruption, long timeouts, or dropped packets. Since
the developers of TACACS+ choose to use TCP, the TACACS+ software does not need to
have the extra code to look for and deal with these transmission problems. TCP is a
connection-oriented protocol, and that is its job and responsibility.
RADIUS encrypts the user’s password only as it is being transmitted from the RADIUS client to the RADIUS server. Other information, as in the username, accounting,
and authorized services, is passed in cleartext. This is an open invitation for attackers to
capture session information for replay attacks. Vendors who integrate RADIUS into
their products need to understand these weaknesses and integrate other security mechanisms to protect against these types of attacks. TACACS+ encrypts all of this data between the client and server and thus does not have the vulnerabilities inherent in the
RADIUS protocol.
The RADIUS protocol combines the authentication and authorization functionality. TACACS+ uses a true authentication, authorization, and accounting/audit (AAA)
architecture, which separates the authentication, authorization, and accounting functionalities. This gives a network administrator more flexibility in how remote users are
authenticated. For example, if Tom is a network administrator and has been assigned
the task of setting up remote access for users, he must decide between RADIUS and
TACACS+. If the current environment already authenticates all of the local users through
a domain controller using Kerberos, then Tom can configure the remote users to be
authenticated in this same manner, as shown in Figure 3-20. Instead of having to maintain a remote access server database of remote user credentials and a database within
Active Directory for local users, Tom can just configure and maintain one database. The
separation of authentication, authorization, and accounting functionality provides this
capability. TACACS+ also enables the network administrator to define more granular
user profiles, which can control the actual commands users can carry out.
Remember that RADIUS and TACACS+ are both protocols, and protocols are just
agreed-upon ways of communication. When a RADIUS client communicates with a
RADIUS server, it does so through the RADIUS protocol, which is really just a set of
defined fields that will accept certain values. These fields are referred to as attributevalue pairs (AVPs). As an analogy, suppose I send you a piece of paper that has several
different boxes drawn on it. Each box has a headline associated with it: first name, last
name, hair color, shoe size. You fill in these boxes with your values and send it back to
me. This is basically how protocols work; the sending system just fills in the boxes
(fields) with the necessary information for the receiving system to extract and process.
Since TACACS+ allows for more granular control on what users can and cannot do,
TACACS+ has more AVPs, which allows the network administrator to define ACLs, filters, user privileges, and much more. Table 3-3 points out the differences between RADIUS and TACACS+.

Chapter 3: Access Control

237

Figure 3-20 TACACS+ works in a client/server model.

So, RADIUS is the appropriate protocol when simplistic username/password authentication can take place and users only need an Accept or Deny for obtaining access,
as in ISPs. TACACS+ is the better choice for environments that require more sophisticated authentication steps and tighter control over more complex authorization activities, as in corporate networks.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

238
RADIUS

TACACS+

Packet delivery

UDP

TCP

Packet encryption

Encrypts only the password from
the RADIUS client to the server.

Encrypts all traffic between the
client and server.

AAA support

Combines authentication and
authorization services.

Uses the AAA architecture,
separating authentication,
authorization, and auditing.

Multiprotocol support

Works over PPP connections.

Supports other protocols, such
as AppleTalk, NetBIOS, and IPX.

Responses

Uses single-challenge response
when authenticating a user, which
is used for all AAA activities.

Uses multiple-challenge response
for each of the AAA processes.
Each AAA activity must be
authenticated.

Table 3-3

Specific Differences Between These Two AAA Protocols

Diameter
If we create our own technology, we get to name it any goofy thing we want!
Response: I like Snizzernoodle.
Diameter is a protocol that has been developed to build upon the functionality of
RADIUS and overcome many of its limitations. The creators of this protocol decided to
call it Diameter as a play on the term RADIUS—as in the diameter is twice the radius.
Diameter is another AAA protocol that provides the same type of functionality as
RADIUS and TACACS+ but also provides more flexibility and capabilities to meet the
new demands of today’s complex and diverse networks. At one time, all remote communication took place over PPP and SLIP connections and users authenticated themselves through PAP or CHAP. Those were simpler, happier times when our parents had
to walk uphill both ways to school wearing no shoes. As with life, technology has become much more complicated and there are more devices and protocols to choose
from than ever before. Today, we want our wireless devices and smart phones to be able
to authenticate themselves to our networks, and we use roaming protocols, Mobile IP,
Ethernet over PPP, Voice over IP (VoIP), and other crazy stuff that the traditional AAA
protocols cannot keep up with. So the smart people came up with a new AAA protocol,
Diameter, that can deal with these issues and many more.

Mobile IP
This technology allows a user to move from one network to another and still use
the same IP address. It is an improvement upon the IP protocol because it allows
a user to have a home IP address, associated with his home network, and a care-of
address. The care-of address changes as he moves from one network to the other.
All traffic that is addressed to his home IP address is forwarded to his care-of
address.

Chapter 3: Access Control

239
Diameter protocol consists of two portions. The first is the base protocol, which
provides the secure communication among Diameter entities, feature discovery, and
version negotiation. The second is the extensions, which are built on top of the base
protocol to allow various technologies to use Diameter for authentication.
Up until the conception of Diameter, IETF has had individual working groups who
defined how Voice over IP (VoIP), Fax over IP (FoIP), Mobile IP, and remote authentication protocols work. Defining and implementing them individually in any network can
easily result in too much confusion and interoperability. It requires customers to roll
out and configure several different policy servers and increases the cost with each new
added service. Diameter provides a base protocol, which defines header formats, security options, commands, and AVPs. This base protocol allows for extensions to tie in
other services, such as VoIP, FoIP, Mobile IP, wireless, and cell phone authentication. So
Diameter can be used as an AAA protocol for all of these different uses.
As an analogy, consider a scenario in which ten people all need to get to the same
hospital, which is where they all work. They all have different jobs (doctor, lab technician, nurse, janitor, and so on), but they all need to end up at the same location. So,
they can either all take their own cars and their own routes to the hospital, which takes
up more hospital parking space and requires the gate guard to authenticate each and
every car, or they can take a bus. The bus is the common element (base protocol) to get
the individuals (different services) to the same location (networked environment). Diameter provides the common AAA and security framework that different services can
work within, as illustrated in Figure 3-21.
RADIUS and TACACS+ are client/server protocols, which means the server portion
cannot send unsolicited commands to the client portion. The server portion can only
speak when spoken to. Diameter is a peer-based protocol that allows either end to initiate communication. This functionality allows the Diameter server to send a message to
the access server to request the user to provide another authentication credential if she
is attempting to access a secure resource.
Diameter is not directly backward-compatible with RADIUS but provides an upgrade path. Diameter uses TCP and AVPs, and provides proxy server support. It has
better error detection and correction functionality than RADIUS, as well as better
failover properties, and thus provides better network resilience.

Figure 3-21 Diameter provides an AAA architecture for several services.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

240
Diameter has the functionality and ability to provide the AAA functionality for
other protocols and services because it has a large AVP set. RADIUS has 28 (256) AVPs,
while Diameter has 232 (a whole bunch). Recall from earlier in the chapter that AVPs are
like boxes drawn on a piece of paper that outline how two entities can communicate
back and forth. So, more AVPs allow for more functionality and services to exist and
communicate between systems.
Diameter provides the following AAA functionality:
• Authentication
• PAP, CHAP, EAP
• End-to-end protection of authentication information
• Replay attack protection
• Authorization
• Redirects, secure proxies, relays, and brokers
• State reconciliation
• Unsolicited disconnect
• Reauthorization on demand
• Accounting
• Reporting, roaming operations (ROAMOPS) accounting, event monitoring
You may not be familiar with Diameter because it is relatively new. It probably won’t
be taking over the world tomorrow, but it will be used by environments that need to
provide the type of services being demanded of them, and then slowly seep down into
corporate networks as more products are available. RADIUS has been around for a long
time and has served its purpose well, so don’t expect it to exit the stage any time soon.

Decentralized Access Control Administration
Okay, everyone just do whatever you want.
A decentralized access control administration method gives control of access to the
people closer to the resources—the people who may better understand who should and
should not have access to certain files, data, and resources. In this approach, it is often
the functional manager who assigns access control rights to employees. An organization may choose to use a decentralized model if its managers have better judgment regarding which users should be able to access different resources, and there is no business
requirement that dictates strict control through a centralized body is necessary.
Changes can happen faster through this type of administration because not just one
entity is making changes for the whole organization. However, there is a possibility that
conflicts of interest could arise that may not benefit the organization. Because no single
entity controls access as a whole, different managers and departments can practice security and access control in different ways. This does not provide uniformity and fairness across the organization. One manager could be too busy with daily tasks and
decide it is easier to let everyone have full control over all the systems in the department. Another department may practice a stricter and detail-oriented method of control by giving employees only the level of permissions needed to fulfill their tasks.

Chapter 3: Access Control

241
Also, certain controls can overlap, in which case actions may not be properly proscribed or restricted. If Mike is part of the accounting group and recently has been under
suspicion for altering personnel account information, the accounting manager may restrict his access to these files to read-only access. However, the accounting manager does
not realize that Mike still has full-control access under the network group he is also a
member of. This type of administration does not provide methods for consistent control, as a centralized method would. Another issue that comes up with decentralized
administration is lack of proper consistency pertaining to the company’s protection. For
example, when Sean is fired for looking at pornography on his computer, some of the
groups Sean is a member of may not disable his account. So, Sean may still have access
after he is terminated, which could cause the company heartache if Sean is vindictive.

Access Control Methods
Access controls can be implemented at various layers of a network and individual systems. Some controls are core components of operating systems or embedded into applications and devices, and some security controls require third-party add-on packages.
Although different controls provide different functionality, they should all work together to keep the bad guys out and the good guys in, and to provide the necessary
quality of protection.
Most companies do not want people to be able to walk into their building arbitrarily, sit down at an employee’s computer, and access network resources. Companies
also don’t want every employee to be able to access all information within the company, as in human resource records, payroll information, and trade secrets. Companies
want some assurance that employees who can access confidential information will
have some restrictions put upon them, making sure, say, a disgruntled employee does
not have the ability to delete financial statements, tax information, and top-secret data
that would put the company at risk. Several types of access controls prevent these things
from happening, as discussed in the sections that follow.

Access Control Layers
Access control consists of three broad categories: administrative, technical, and physical. Each category has different access control mechanisms that can be carried out manually or automatically. All of these access control mechanisms should work in concert
with each other to protect an infrastructure and its data.
Each category of access control has several components that fall within it, as
shown next:
• Administrative Controls
• Policy and procedures
• Personnel controls
• Supervisory structure
• Security-awareness training
• Testing

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

242
• Physical Controls
• Network segregation
• Perimeter security
• Computer controls
• Work area separation
• Data backups
• Cabling
• Control zone
• Technical Controls
• System access
• Network architecture
• Network access
• Encryption and protocols
• Auditing
The following sections explain each of these categories and components and how
they relate to access control.

Administrative Controls
Senior management must decide what role security will play in the organization, including the security goals and objectives. These directives will dictate how all the supporting mechanisms will fall into place. Basically, senior management provides the
skeleton of a security infrastructure and then appoints the proper entities to fill in
the rest.
The first piece to building a security foundation within an organization is a security
policy. It is management’s responsibility to construct a security policy and delegate the
development of the supporting procedures, standards, and guidelines; indicate which
personnel controls should be used; and specify how testing should be carried out to
ensure all pieces fulfill the company’s security goals. These items are administrative
controls and work at the top layer of a hierarchical access control model. (Administrative controls are examined in detail in Chapter 2, but are mentioned here briefly to
show the relationship to logical and physical controls pertaining to access control.)

Personnel Controls
Personnel controls indicate how employees are expected to interact with security mechanisms and address noncompliance issues pertaining to these expectations. These controls indicate what security actions should be taken when an employee is hired, terminated, suspended, moved into another department, or promoted. Specific procedures
must be developed for each situation, and many times the human resources and legal
departments are involved with making these decisions.

Chapter 3: Access Control

243
Supervisory Structure
Management must construct a supervisory structure in which each employee has a superior to report to, and that superior is responsible for that employee’s actions. This forces
management members to be responsible for employees and take a vested interest in
their activities. If an employee is caught hacking into a server that holds customer credit
card information, that employee and her supervisor will face the consequences. This is
an administrative control that aids in fighting fraud and enforcing proper control.

Security-Awareness Training
How do you know they know what they are supposed to know?
In many organizations, management has a hard time spending money and allocating resources for items that do not seem to affect the bottom line: profitability. This is
why training traditionally has been given low priority, but as computer security becomes more and more of an issue to companies, they are starting to recognize the value
of security-awareness training.
A company’s security depends upon technology and people, and people are usually
the weakest link and cause the most security breaches and compromises. If users understand how to properly access resources, why access controls are in place, and the ramifications for not using the access controls properly, a company can reduce many types
of security incidents.

Testing
All security controls, mechanisms, and procedures must be tested on a periodic basis to
ensure they properly support the security policy, goals, and objectives set for them. This
testing can be a drill to test reactions to a physical attack or disruption of the network,
a penetration test of the firewalls and perimeter network to uncover vulnerabilities, a
query to employees to gauge their knowledge, or a review of the procedures and standards to make sure they still align with implemented business or technology changes.
Because change is constant and environments continually evolve, security procedures
and practices should be continually tested to ensure they align with management’s expectations and stay up-to-date with each addition to the infrastructure. It is management’s responsibility to make sure these tests take place.

Physical Controls
We will go much further into physical security in Chapter 5, but it is important to understand certain physical controls must support and work with administrative and
technical (logical) controls to supply the right degree of access control. Examples of
physical controls include having a security guard verify individuals’ identities prior to
entering a facility, erecting fences around the exterior of the facility, making sure server
rooms and wiring closets are locked and protected from environmental elements (humidity, heat, and cold), and allowing only certain individuals to access work areas that
contain confidential information. Some physical controls are introduced next, but
again, these and more physical mechanisms are explored in depth in Chapter 5.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

244
Network Segregation
I have used my Lego set to outline the physical boundaries between you and me.
Response: Can you make the walls a little higher please?
Network segregation can be carried out through physical and logical means. A network might be physically designed to have all AS400 computers and databases in a
certain area. This area may have doors with security swipe cards that allow only individuals who have a specific clearance to access this section and these computers. Another section of the network may contain web servers, routers, and switches, and yet
another network portion may have employee workstations. Each area would have the
necessary physical controls to ensure that only the permitted individuals have access
into and out of those sections.

Perimeter Security
How perimeter security is implemented depends upon the company and the security
requirements of that environment. One environment may require employees to be authorized by a security guard by showing a security badge that contains a picture identification before being allowed to enter a section. Another environment may require no
authentication process and let anyone and everyone into different sections. Perimeter
security can also encompass closed-circuit TVs that scan the parking lots and waiting
areas, fences surrounding a building, the lighting of walkways and parking areas, motion
detectors, sensors, alarms, and the location and visual appearance of a building. These
are examples of perimeter security mechanisms that provide physical access control by
providing protection for individuals, facilities, and the components within facilities.

Computer Controls
Each computer can have physical controls installed and configured, such as locks on
the cover so the internal parts cannot be stolen, the removal of the USB drive and CDROM drives to prevent copying of confidential information, or implementation of a
protection device that reduces the electrical emissions to thwart attempts to gather information through airwaves.

Work Area Separation
Some environments might dictate that only particular individuals can access certain
areas of the facility. For example, research companies might not want office personnel
to be able to enter laboratories so they can’t disrupt experiments or access test data.
Most network administrators allow only network staff in the server rooms and wiring
closets to reduce the possibilities of errors or sabotage attempts. In financial institutions, only certain employees can enter the vaults or other restricted areas. These examples of work area separation are physical controls used to support access control and
the overall security policy of the company.

Cabling
Different types of cabling can be used to carry information throughout a network.
Some cable types have sheaths that protect the data from being affected by the electrical
interference of other devices that emit electrical signals. Some types of cable have pro-

Chapter 3: Access Control

245
tection material around each individual wire to ensure there is no crosstalk between the
different wires. All cables need to be routed throughout the facility so they are not in
the way of employees or are exposed to any dangers like being cut, burnt, crimped, or
eavesdropped upon.

Control Zone
The company facility should be split up into zones depending upon the sensitivity of the
activity that takes place per zone. The front lobby could be considered a public area,
the product development area could be considered top secret, and the executive offices could be considered secret. It does not matter what classifications are used, but it
should be understood that some areas are more sensitive than others, which will require different access controls based on the needed protection level. The same is true
of the company network. It should be segmented, and access controls should be chosen for each zone based on the criticality of devices and the sensitivity of data being
processed.

Technical Controls
Technical controls are the software tools used to restrict subjects’ access to objects. They
are core components of operating systems, add-on security packages, applications, network hardware devices, protocols, encryption mechanisms, and access control matrices. These controls work at different layers within a network or system and need to
maintain a synergistic relationship to ensure there is no unauthorized access to resources and that the resources’ availability, integrity, and confidentiality are guaranteed.
Technical controls protect the integrity and availability of resources by limiting the
number of subjects that can access them and protecting the confidentiality of resources
by preventing disclosure to unauthorized subjects. The following sections explain how
some technical controls work and where they are implemented within an environment.

System Access
Different types of controls and security mechanisms control how a computer is accessed. If an organization is using a MAC architecture, the clearance of a user is identified and compared to the resource’s classification level to verify that this user can access
the requested object. If an organization is using a DAC architecture, the operating system checks to see if a user has been granted permission to access this resource. The
sensitivity of data, clearance level of users, and users’ rights and permissions are used as
logical controls to control access to a resource.
Many types of technical controls enable a user to access a system and the resources
within that system. A technical control may be a username and password combination,
a Kerberos implementation, biometrics, public key infrastructure (PKI), RADIUS,
TACACS+, or authentication using a smart card through a reader connected to a system.
These technologies verify the user is who he says he is by using different types of authentication methods. Once a user is properly authenticated, he can be authorized and
allowed access to network resources. These technologies are addressed in further detail
in future chapters, but for now understand that system access is a type of technical control that can enforce access control objectives.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

246
Network Architecture
The architecture of a network can be constructed and enforced through several logical
controls to provide segregation and protection of an environment. Whereas a network
can be segregated physically by walls and location, it can also be segregated logically
through IP address ranges and subnets and by controlling the communication flow
between the segments. Often, it is important to control how one segment of a network
communicates with another segment.
Figure 3-22 is an example of how an organization may segregate its network and
determine how network segments can communicate. This example shows that the organization does not want the internal network and the demilitarized zone (DMZ) to
have open and unrestricted communication paths. There is usually no reason for internal users to have direct access to the systems in the DMZ, and cutting off this type of
communication reduces the possibilities of internal attacks on those systems. Also, if
an attack comes from the Internet and successfully compromises a system on the DMZ,
the attacker must not be able to easily access the internal network, which this type of
logical segregation protects against.
This example also shows how the management segment can communicate with all
other network segments, but those segments cannot communicate in return. The segmentation is implemented because the management consoles that control the firewalls
and IDSs reside in the management segment, and there is no reason for users, other
than the administrator, to have access to these computers.
A network can be segregated physically and logically. This type of segregation and
restriction is accomplished through logical controls.

Network Access
Systems have logical controls that dictate who can and cannot access them and what
those individuals can do once they are authenticated. This is also true for networks.
Routers, switches, firewalls, and gateways all work as technical controls to enforce access restriction into and out of a network and access to the different segments within
the network. If an attacker from the Internet wants to gain access to a specific computer,
chances are she will have to hack through a firewall, router, and a switch just to be able
to start an attack on a specific computer that resides within the internal network. Each
device has its own logical controls that make decisions about what entities can access
them and what type of actions they can carry out.
Access to different network segments should be granular in nature. Routers and firewalls can be used to ensure that only certain types of traffic get through to each segment.

Encryption and Protocols
Encryption and protocols work as technical controls to protect information as it passes
throughout a network and resides on computers. They ensure that the information is
received by the correct entity, and that it is not modified during transmission. These
logical controls can preserve the confidentiality and integrity of data and enforce specific paths for communication to take place. (Chapter 7 is dedicated to cryptography
and encryption mechanisms.)

Chapter 3: Access Control

247

Figure 3-22 Technical network segmentation controls how different network segments
communicate.

Auditing
Auditing tools are technical controls that track activity within a network, on a network
device, or on a specific computer. Even though auditing is not an activity that will deny
an entity access to a network or computer, it will track activities so a network administrator can understand the types of access that took place, identify a security breach, or

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

248
warn the administrator of suspicious activity. This information can be used to point out
weaknesses of other technical controls and help the administrator understand where
changes must be made to preserve the necessary security level within the environment.
NOTE Many of the subjects touched on in these sections will be fully
addressed and explained in later chapters. What is important to understand is
that there are administrative, technical, and physical controls that work toward
providing access control, and you should know several examples of each for
the exam.

Accountability
If you do wrong, you will pay.
Auditing capabilities ensure users are accountable for their actions, verify that the
security policies are enforced, and can be used as investigation tools. There are several
reasons why network administrators and security professionals want to make sure accountability mechanisms are in place and configured properly: to be able to track bad
deeds back to individuals, detect intrusions, reconstruct events and system conditions,
provide legal recourse material, and produce problem reports. Audit documentation
and log files hold a mountain of information—the trick is usually deciphering it and
presenting it in a useful and understandable format.
Accountability is tracked by recording user, system, and application activities. This
recording is done through auditing functions and mechanisms within an operating
system or application. Audit trails contain information about operating system activities, application events, and user actions. Audit trails can be used to verify the health of
a system by checking performance information or certain types of errors and conditions. After a system crashes, a network administrator often will review audit logs to try
and piece together the status of the system and attempt to understand what events
could be attributed to the disruption.
Audit trails can also be used to provide alerts about any suspicious activities that
can be investigated at a later time. In addition, they can be valuable in determining
exactly how far an attack has gone and the extent of the damage that may have been
caused. It is important to make sure a proper chain of custody is maintained to ensure
any data collected can later be properly and accurately represented in case it needs to be
used for later events such as criminal proceedings or investigations.
It is a good idea to keep the following in mind when dealing with auditing:
• Store the audits securely.
• The right audit tools will keep the size of the logs under control.
• The logs must be protected from any unauthorized changes in order to
safeguard data.
• Train the right people to review the data in the right manner.
• Make sure the ability to delete logs is only available to administrators.
• Logs should contain activities of all high-privileged accounts (root,
administrator).

Chapter 3: Access Control

249
An administrator configures what actions and events are to be audited and logged.
In a high-security environment, the administrator would configure more activities to be
captured and set the threshold of those activities to be more sensitive. The events can
be reviewed to identify where breaches of security occurred and if the security policy
has been violated. If the environment does not require such levels of security, the events
analyzed would be fewer, with less demanding thresholds.
Items and actions to be audited can become an endless list. A security professional
should be able to assess an environment and its security goals, know what actions
should be audited, and know what is to be done with that information after it is captured—without wasting too much disk space, CPU power, and staff time. The following
gives a broad overview of the items and actions that can be audited and logged:
• System-level events
• System performance
• Logon attempts (successful and unsuccessful)
• Logon ID
• Date and time of each logon attempt
• Lockouts of users and terminals
• Use of administration utilities
• Devices used
• Functions performed
• Requests to alter configuration files
• Application-level events
• Error messages
• Files opened and closed
• Modifications of files
• Security violations within application
• User-level events
• Identification and authentication attempts
• Files, services, and resources used
• Commands initiated
• Security violations
The threshold (clipping level) and parameters for each of these items must be configured. For example, an administrator can audit each logon attempt or just each failed
logon attempt. System performance can look at the amount of memory used within an
eight-hour period or the memory, CPU, and hard drive space used within an hour.
Intrusion detection systems (IDSs) continually scan audit logs for suspicious activity. If an intrusion or harmful event takes place, audit logs are usually kept to be used
later to prove guilt and prosecute if necessary. If severe security events take place, many

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

250
times the IDS will alert the administrator or staff member so they can take proper actions to end the destructive activity. If a dangerous virus is identified, administrators
may take the mail server offline. If an attacker is accessing confidential information
within the database, this computer may be temporarily disconnected from the network
or Internet. If an attack is in progress, the administrator may want to watch the actions
taking place so she can track down the intruder. IDSs can watch for this type of activity
during real time and/or scan audit logs and watch for specific patterns or behaviors.

Review of Audit Information
It does no good to collect it if you don’t look at it.
Audit trails can be reviewed manually or through automated means—either way,
they must be reviewed and interpreted. If an organization reviews audit trails manually,
it needs to establish a system of how, when, and why they are viewed. Usually audit logs
are very popular items right after a security breach, unexplained system action, or system disruption. An administrator or staff member rapidly tries to piece together the
activities that led up to the event. This type of audit review is event-oriented. Audit trails
can also be viewed periodically to watch for unusual behavior of users or systems, and
to help understand the baseline and health of a system. Then there is a real-time, or
near real-time, audit analysis that can use an automated tool to review audit information as it is created. Administrators should have a scheduled task of reviewing audit
data. The audit material usually needs to be parsed and saved to another location for a
certain time period. This retention information should be stated in the company’s security policy and procedures.
Reviewing audit information manually can be overwhelming. There are applications and audit trail analysis tools that reduce the volume of audit logs to review and
improve the efficiency of manual review procedures. A majority of the time, audit logs
contain information that is unnecessary, so these tools parse out specific events and
present them in a useful format.
An audit-reduction tool does just what its name suggests—reduces the amount of
information within an audit log. This tool discards mundane task information and records system performance, security, and user functionality information that can be useful to a security professional or administrator.
Today, more organizations are implementing security event management (SEM) systems, also called security information and event management (SIEM) systems. These
products gather logs from various devices (servers, firewalls, routers, etc.) and attempt
to correlate the log data and provide analysis capabilities. Reviewing logs manually
looking for suspicious activity on a continuous manner is not only mind-numbing, it
is close to impossible to be successful. So many packets and network communication
data sets are passing along a network; humans cannot collect all the data in real or near
to real time, analyze them, identify current attacks and react—it is just too overwhelming. We also have different types of systems on a network (routers, firewalls, IDS, IPS,
servers, gateways, proxies) collecting logs in various proprietary formats, which requires
centralization, standardization, and normalization. Log formats are different per product type and vendor. Juniper network device systems create logs in a different format
than Cisco systems, which are different from Palo Alto and Barracuda firewalls. It is

Chapter 3: Access Control

251
important to gather logs from various different systems within an environment so that
some type of situational awareness can take place. Once the logs are gathered, intelligence routines need to be processed on them so that data mining (identify patterns)
can take place. The goal is to piece together seemingly unrelated event data so that the
security team can fully understand what is taking place within the network and react
properly.
NOTE Situational awareness means that you understand the current
environment even though it is complex, dynamic, and made up of seemingly
unrelated data points.You need to be able to understand each data point in
its own context within the surrounding environment so that the best possible
decisions can be made.

Protecting Audit Data and Log Information
I hear that logs can contain sensitive data, so I just turned off all logging capabilities.
Response: Brilliant.
If an intruder breaks into your house, he will do his best to cover his tracks by not
leaving fingerprints or any other clues that can be used to tie him to the criminal activity. The same is true in computer fraud and illegal activity. The intruder will work to
cover his tracks. Attackers often delete audit logs that hold this incriminating information. (Deleting specific incriminating data within audit logs is called scrubbing.) Deleting this information can cause the administrator to not be alerted or aware of the
security breach, and can destroy valuable data. Therefore, audit logs should be protected by strict access control.
Only certain individuals (the administrator and security personnel) should be able
to view, modify, and delete audit trail information. No other individuals should be able
to view this data, much less modify or delete it. The integrity of the data can be ensured
with the use of digital signatures, hashing tools, and strong access controls. Its confidentiality can be protected with encryption and access controls, if necessary, and it can
be stored on write-once media (CD-ROMs) to prevent loss or modification of the data.
Unauthorized access attempts to audit logs should be captured and reported.
Audit logs may be used in a trial to prove an individual’s guilt, demonstrate how an
attack was carried out, or corroborate a story. The integrity and confidentiality of these
logs will be under scrutiny. Proper steps need to be taken to ensure that the confidentiality and integrity of the audit information is not compromised in any way.

Keystroke Monitoring
Oh, you typed an L. Let me write that down. Oh, and a P, and a T, and an S—hey, slow down!
Keystroke monitoring is a type of monitoring that can review and record keystrokes
entered by a user during an active session. The person using this type of monitoring can
have the characters written to an audit log to be reviewed at a later time. This type of
auditing is usually done only for special cases and only for a specific amount of time,
because the amount of information captured can be overwhelming and/or unimportant. If a security professional or administrator is suspicious of an individual and his

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

252
activities, she may invoke this type of monitoring. In some authorized investigative
stages, a keyboard dongle (hardware key logger) may be unobtrusively inserted between the keyboard and the computer to capture all the keystrokes entered, including
power-on passwords.
A hacker can also use this type of monitoring. If an attacker can successfully install a
Trojan horse on a computer, the Trojan horse can install an application that captures data
as it is typed into the keyboard. Typically, these programs are most interested in user credentials and can alert the attacker when credentials have been successfully captured.
Privacy issues are involved with this type of monitoring, and administrators could
be subject to criminal and civil liabilities if it is done without proper notification to the
employees and authorization from management. If a company wants to use this type
of auditing, it should state so in the security policy, address the issue in security-awareness training, and present a banner notice to the user warning that the activities at that
computer may be monitored in this fashion. These steps should be taken to protect the
company from violating an individual’s privacy, and they should inform the users
where their privacy boundaries start and stop pertaining to computer use.

Access Control Practices
The fewest number of doors open allows the fewest number of flies in.
We have gone over how users are identified, authenticated, and authorized, and
how their actions are audited. These are necessary parts of a healthy and safe network
environment. You also want to take steps to ensure there are no unnecessary open
doors and that the environment stays at the same security level you have worked so
hard to achieve. This means you need to implement good access control practices. Not
keeping up with daily or monthly tasks usually causes the most vulnerabilities in an
environment. It is hard to put out all the network fires, fight the political battles, fulfill
all the users’ needs, and still keep up with small maintenance tasks. However, many
companies have found that not doing these small tasks caused them the greatest heartache of all.
The following is a list of tasks that must be done on a regular basis to ensure security stays at a satisfactory level:
• Deny access to systems to undefined users or anonymous accounts.
• Limit and monitor the usage of administrator and other powerful accounts.
• Suspend or delay access capability after a specific number of unsuccessful
logon attempts.
• Remove obsolete user accounts as soon as the user leaves the company.
• Suspend inactive accounts after 30 to 60 days.
• Enforce strict access criteria.
• Enforce the need-to-know and least-privilege practices.
• Disable unneeded system features, services, and ports.
• Replace default password settings on accounts.

Chapter 3: Access Control

253
• Limit and monitor global access rules.
• Remove redundant resource rules from accounts and group memberships.
• Remove redundant user IDs, accounts, and role-based accounts from resource
access lists.
• Enforce password rotation.
• Enforce password requirements (length, contents, lifetime, distribution,
storage, and transmission).
• Audit system and user events and actions, and review reports periodically.
• Protect audit logs.
Even if all of these countermeasures are in place and properly monitored, data can
still be lost in an unauthorized manner in other ways. The next section looks at these
issues and their corresponding countermeasures.

Unauthorized Disclosure of Information
Several things can make information available to others for whom it is not intended,
which can bring about unfavorable results. Sometimes this is done intentionally; other
times, unintentionally. Information can be disclosed unintentionally when one falls
prey to attacks that specialize in causing this disclosure. These attacks include social
engineering, covert channels, malicious code, and electrical airwave sniffing. Information can be disclosed accidentally through object reuse methods, which are explained
next. (Social engineering was discussed in Chapter 2, while covert channels will be
discussed in Chapter 4.)

Object Reuse
Can I borrow this thumb drive?
Response: Let me destroy it first.
Object reuse issues pertain to reassigning to a subject media that previously contained one or more objects. Huh? This means before someone uses a hard drive, USB
drive, or tape, it should be cleared of any residual information still on it. This concept
also applies to objects reused by computer processes, such as memory locations, variables, and registers. Any sensitive information that may be left by a process should be
securely cleared before allowing another process the opportunity to access the object.
This ensures that information not intended for this individual or any other subject is
not disclosed. Many times, USB drives are exchanged casually in a work environment.
What if a supervisor lent a USB drive to an employee without erasing it and it contained
confidential employee performance reports and salary raises forecasted for the next
year? This could prove to be a bad decision and may turn into a morale issue if the information was passed around. Formatting a disk or deleting files only removes the
pointers to the files; it does not remove the actual files. This information will still be on
the disk and available until the operating system needs that space and overwrites those
files. So, for media that holds confidential information, more extreme methods should
be taken to ensure the files are actually gone, not just their pointers.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

254
Sensitive data should be classified (secret, top secret, confidential, unclassified, and
so on) by the data owners. How the data are stored and accessed should also be strictly
controlled and audited by software controls. However, it does not end there. Before allowing someone to use previously used media, it should be erased or degaussed. (This
responsibility usually falls on the operations department.) If media holds sensitive information and cannot be purged, steps should be created describing how to properly
destroy it so no one else can obtain this information.
NOTE Sometimes hackers actually configure a sector on a hard drive so it
is marked as bad and unusable to an operating system, but that is actually fine
and may hold malicious data. The operating system will not write information
to this sector because it thinks it is corrupted. This is a form of data hiding.
Some boot-sector virus routines are capable of putting the main part of their
code (payload) into a specific sector of the hard drive, overwriting any data
that may have been there, and then protecting it as a bad block.

Emanation Security
Quick, cover your computer and your head in tinfoil!
All electronic devices emit electrical signals. These signals can hold important information, and if an attacker buys the right equipment and positions himself in the right
place, he could capture this information from the airwaves and access data transmissions as if he had a tap directly on the network wire.
Several incidents have occurred in which intruders have purchased inexpensive
equipment and used it to intercept electrical emissions as they radiated from a computer. This equipment can reproduce data streams and display the data on the intruder’s monitor, enabling the intruder to learn of covert operations, find out military
strategies, and uncover and exploit confidential information. This is not just stuff found
in spy novels. It really happens. So, the proper countermeasures have been devised.
TEMPEST TEMPEST started out as a study carried out by the DoD and then turned
into a standard that outlines how to develop countermeasures that control spurious
electrical signals emitted by electrical equipment. Special shielding is used on equipment to suppress the signals as they are radiated from devices. TEMPEST equipment is
implemented to prevent intruders from picking up information through the airwaves
with listening devices. This type of equipment must meet specific standards to be rated
as providing TEMPEST shielding protection. TEMPEST refers to standardized technology that suppresses signal emanations with shielding material. Vendors who manufacture this type of equipment must be certified to this standard.
The devices (monitors, computers, printers, and so on) have an outer metal coating,
referred to as a Faraday cage. This is made of metal with the necessary depth to ensure
only a certain amount of radiation is released. In devices that are TEMPEST rated, other
components are also modified, especially the power supply, to help reduce the amount
of electricity used.
Even allowable limits of emission levels can radiate and still be considered safe. The
approved products must ensure only this level of emissions is allowed to escape the

Chapter 3: Access Control

255
devices. This type of protection is usually needed only in military institutions, although
other highly secured environments do utilize this kind of safeguard.
Many military organizations are concerned with stray radio frequencies emitted by
computers and other electronic equipment because an attacker may be able to pick
them up, reconstruct them, and give away secrets meant to stay secret.
TEMPEST technology is complex, cumbersome, and expensive, and therefore only
used in highly sensitive areas that really need this high level of protection.
Two alternatives to TEMPEST exist: use white noise or use a control zone concept,
both of which are explained next.
NOTE TEMPEST is the name of a program, and now a standard, that was
developed in the late 1950s by the U.S. and British governments to deal with
electrical and electromagnetic radiation emitted from electrical equipment,
mainly computers. This type of equipment is usually used by intelligence,
military, government, and law enforcement agencies, and the selling of such
items is under constant scrutiny.
White Noise A countermeasure used to keep intruders from extracting information
from electrical transmissions is white noise. White noise is a uniform spectrum of random electrical signals. It is distributed over the full spectrum so the bandwidth is constant and an intruder is not able to decipher real information from random noise or
random information.
Control Zone Another alternative to using TEMPEST equipment is to use the zone
concept, which was addressed earlier in this chapter. Some facilities use material in
their walls to contain electrical signals, which acts like a large Faraday cage. This prevents intruders from being able to access information emitted via electrical signals from
network devices. This control zone creates a type of security perimeter and is constructed to protect against unauthorized access to data or the compromise of sensitive information.

Access Control Monitoring
Access control monitoring is a method of keeping track of who attempts to access specific company resources. It is an important detective mechanism, and different technologies exist that can fill this need. It is not enough to invest in antivirus and firewall
solutions. Companies are finding that monitoring their own internal network has become a way of life.

Intrusion Detection
Intrusion detection systems (IDSs) are different from traditional firewall products because they are designed to detect a security breach. Intrusion detection is the process of
detecting an unauthorized use of, or attack upon, a computer, network, or telecommunications infrastructure. IDSs are designed to aid in mitigating the damage that can be

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

256
caused by hacking, or by breaking into sensitive computer and network systems. The
basic intent of the IDS tool is to spot something suspicious happening on the network
and sound an alarm by flashing a message on a network manager’s screen, or possibly
sending an e-mail or even reconfiguring a firewall’s ACL setting. The IDS tools can look
for sequences of data bits that might indicate a questionable action or event, or monitor system log and activity recording files. The event does not need to be an intrusion
to sound the alarm—any kind of “non-normal” behavior may do the trick.
Although different types of IDS products are available, they all have three common
components: sensors, analyzers, and administrator interfaces. The sensors collect traffic
and user activity data and send them to an analyzer, which looks for suspicious activity.
If the analyzer detects an activity it is programmed to deem as fishy, it sends an alert to
the administrator’s interface.
IDSs come in two main types: network-based, which monitor network communications, and host-based, which can analyze the activity within a particular computer system.
IDSs can be configured to watch for attacks, parse audit logs, terminate a connection, alert an administrator as attacks are happening, expose a hacker’s techniques,
illustrate which vulnerabilities need to be addressed, and possibly help track down
individual hackers.

Network-Based IDSs
A network-based IDS (NIDS) uses sensors, which are either host computers with the
necessary software installed or dedicated appliances—each with its network interface
card (NIC) in promiscuous mode. Normally, NICs watch for traffic that has the address
of its host system, broadcasts, and sometimes multicast traffic. The NIC driver copies
the data from the transmission medium and sends them up the network protocol stack
for processing. When a NIC is put into promiscuous mode, the NIC driver captures all
traffic, makes a copy of all packets, and then passes one copy to the TCP stack and one
copy to an analyzer to look for specific types of patterns.
An NIDS monitors network traffic and cannot “see” the activity going on inside a
computer itself. To monitor the activities within a computer system, a company would
need to implement a host-based IDS.

Host-Based IDSs
A host-based IDS (HIDS) can be installed on individual workstations and/or servers to
watch for inappropriate or anomalous activity. HIDSs are usually used to make sure
users do not delete system files, reconfigure important settings, or put the system at risk
in any other way. So, whereas the NIDS understands and monitors the network traffic,
a HIDS’s universe is limited to the computer itself. A HIDS does not understand or review network traffic, and a NIDS does not “look in” and monitor a system’s activity.
Each has its own job and stays out of the other’s way.
In most environments, HIDS products are installed only on critical servers, not on
every system on the network, because of the resource overhead and the administration
nightmare that such an installation would cause.

Chapter 3: Access Control

257
Just to make life a little more confusing, HIDS and NIDS can be one of the following types:
• Signature-based
• Pattern matching
• Stateful matching
• Anomaly-based
• Statistical anomaly–based
• Protocol anomaly–based
• Traffic anomaly–based
• Rule- or heuristic-based

Knowledge- or Signature-Based Intrusion Detection
Knowledge is accumulated by the IDS vendors about specific attacks and how they are
carried out. Models of how the attacks are carried out are developed and called signatures. Each identified attack has a signature, which is used to detect an attack in progress
or determine if one has occurred within the network. Any action that is not recognized
as an attack is considered acceptable.
NOTE

Signature-based is also known as pattern matching.

An example of a signature is a packet that has the same source and destination IP
address. All packets should have a different source and destination IP address, and if
they have the same address, this means a Land attack is under way. In a Land attack, a
hacker modifies the packet header so that when a receiving system responds to the
sender, it is responding to its own address. Now that seems as though it should be benign enough, but vulnerable systems just do not have the programming code to know
what to do in this situation, so they freeze or reboot. Once this type of attack was discovered, the signature-based IDS vendors wrote a signature that looks specifically for
packets that contain the same source and destination address.
Signature-based IDSs are the most popular IDS products today, and their effectiveness depends upon regularly updating the software with new signatures, as with antivirus software. This type of IDS is weak against new types of attacks because it can
recognize only the ones that have been previously identified and have had signatures
written for them. Attacks or viruses discovered in production environments are referred
to as being “in the wild.” Attacks and viruses that exist but that have not been released
are referred to as being “in the zoo.” No joke.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

258
State-Based IDSs
Before delving too deep into how a state-based IDS works, you need to understand
what the state of a system or application actually is. Every change that an operating
system experiences (user logs on, user opens application, application communicates to
another application, user inputs data, and so on) is considered a state transition. In a
very technical sense, all operating systems and applications are just lines and lines of
instructions written to carry out functions on data. The instructions have empty variables, which is where the data is held. So when you use the calculator program and type
in 5, an empty variable is instantly populated with this value. By entering that value,
you change the state of the application. When applications communicate with each
other, they populate empty variables provided in each application’s instruction set. So,
a state transition is when a variable’s value changes, which usually happens continuously within every system.
Specific state changes (activities) take place with specific types of attacks. If an attacker will carry out a remote buffer overflow, then the following state changes will
occur:
1. The remote user connects to the system.
2. The remote user sends data to an application (the data exceed the allocated
buffer for this empty variable).
3. The data are executed and overwrite the buffer and possibly other memory
segments.
4. A malicious code executes.
So, state is a snapshot of an operating system’s values in volatile, semipermanent,
and permanent memory locations. In a state-based IDS, the initial state is the state
prior to the execution of an attack, and the compromised state is the state after successful penetration. The IDS has rules that outline which state transition sequences should
sound an alarm. The activity that takes place between the initial and compromised state
is what the state-based IDS looks for, and it sends an alert if any of the state-transition
sequences match its preconfigured rules.
This type of IDS scans for attack signatures in the context of a stream of activity instead of just looking at individual packets. It can only identify known attacks and requires frequent updates of its signatures.

Statistical Anomaly–Based IDS
Through statistical analysis I have determined I am an anomaly in nature.
Response: You have my vote.
A statistical anomaly–based IDS is a behavioral-based system. Behavioral-based IDS
products do not use predefined signatures, but rather are put in a learning mode to
build a profile of an environment’s “normal” activities. This profile is built by continually sampling the environment’s activities. The longer the IDS is put in a learning mode,

Chapter 3: Access Control

259
in most instances, the more accurate a profile it will build and the better protection it
will provide. After this profile is built, all future traffic and activities are compared to it.
The same type of sampling that was used to build the profile takes place, so the same
type of data is being compared. Anything that does not match the profile is seen as an
attack, in response to which the IDS sends an alert. With the use of complex statistical
algorithms, the IDS looks for anomalies in the network traffic or user activity. Each
packet is given an anomaly score, which indicates its degree of irregularity. If the score
is higher than the established threshold of “normal” behavior, then the preconfigured
action will take place.
The benefit of using a statistical anomaly–based IDS is that it can react to new attacks. It can detect “0 day” attacks, which means an attack is new to the world and no
signature or fix has been developed yet. These products are also capable of detecting the
“low and slow” attacks, in which the attacker is trying to stay under the radar by sending
packets little by little over a long period of time. The IDS should be able to detect these
types of attacks because they are different enough from the contrasted profile.
Now for the bad news. Since the only thing that is “normal” about a network is that
it is constantly changing, developing the correct profile that will not provide an overwhelming number of false positives can be difficult. Many IT staff members know all
too well this dance of chasing down alerts that end up being benign traffic or activity.
In fact, some environments end up turning off their IDS because of the amount of time
these activities take up. (Proper education on tuning and configuration will reduce the
number of false positives.)
If an attacker detects there is an IDS on a network, she will then try to detect the type
of IDS it is so she can properly circumvent it. With a behavioral-based IDS, the attacker
could attempt to integrate her activities into the behavior pattern of the network traffic.
That way, her activities are seen as “normal” by the IDS and thus go undetected. It is a
good idea to ensure no attack activity is under way when the IDS is in learning mode.
If this takes place, the IDS will never alert you of this type of attack in the future because
it sees this traffic as typical of the environment.
If a corporation decides to use a statistical anomaly–based IDS, it must ensure that
the staff members who are implementing and maintaining it understand protocols and
packet analysis. Because this type of an IDS sends generic alerts, compared to other
types of IDSs, it is up to the network engineer to figure out what the actual issue is. For
example, a signature-based IDS reports the type of attack that has been identified, while
a rule-based IDS identifies the actual rule the packet does not comply with. In a statistical anomaly–based IDS, all the product really understands is that something “abnormal” has happened, which just means the event does not match the profile.
NOTE IDS and some antimalware products are said to have “heuristic”
capabilities. The term heuristic means to create new information from
different data sources. The IDS gathers different “clues” from the network or
system and calculates the probability an attack is taking place. If the probability
hits a set threshold, then the alarm sounds.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

260
Attack Techniques
It is common for hackers to first identify whether an IDS is present on the network they are preparing to attack. If one is present, that attacker may implement
a denial-of-service attack to bring it offline. Another tactic is to send the IDS incorrect data, which will make the IDS send specific alerts indicating a certain attack is under way, when in truth it is not. The goal of these activities is either to
disable the IDS or to distract the network and security individuals so they will be
busy chasing the wrong packets, while the real attack takes place.
Determining the proper thresholds for statistically significant deviations is really
the key for the successful use of a behavioral-based IDS. If the threshold is set too low,
nonintrusive activities are considered attacks (false positives). If the threshold is set too
high, some malicious activities won’t be identified (false negatives).
Once an IDS discovers an attack, several things can happen, depending upon the
capabilities of the IDS and the policy assigned to it. The IDS can send an alert to a console to tell the right individuals an attack is being carried out; send an e-mail or text to
the individual assigned to respond to such activities; kill the connection of the detected
attack; or reconfigure a router or firewall to try to stop any further similar attacks. A
modifiable response condition might include anything from blocking a specific IP address to redirecting or blocking a certain type of activity.

Protocol Anomaly–Based IDS
A statistical anomaly–based IDS can use protocol anomaly–based filters. These types of
IDSs have specific knowledge of each protocol they will monitor. A protocol anomaly
pertains to the format and behavior of a protocol. The IDS builds a model (or profile)
of each protocol’s “normal” usage. Keep in mind, however, that protocols have theoretical usage, as outlined in their corresponding RFCs, and real-world usage, which refers to
the fact that vendors seem to always “color outside the boxes” and don’t strictly follow
the RFCs in their protocol development and implementation. So, most profiles of individual protocols are a mix between the official and real-world versions of the protocol
and its usage. When the IDS is activated, it looks for anomalies that do not match the
profiles built for the individual protocols.
Although several vulnerabilities within operating systems and applications are
available to be exploited, many more successful attacks take place by exploiting vulnerabilities in the protocols themselves. At the OSI data link layer, the Address Resolution
Protocol (ARP) does not have any protection against ARP attacks where bogus data is
inserted into its table. At the network layer, the Internet Control Message Protocol
(ICMP) can be used in a Loki attack to move data from one place to another, when this
protocol was designed to only be used to send status information—not user data. IP

What’s in a Name?
Signature-based IDSs are also known as misuse-detection systems, and behavioral-based IDSs are also known as profile-based systems.

Chapter 3: Access Control

261
headers can be easily modified for spoofed attacks. At the transport layer, TCP packets
can be injected into the connection between two systems for a session hijacking attack.
NOTE When an attacker compromises a computer and loads a back door
on the system, he will need to have a way to communicate to this computer
through this back door and stay “under the radar” of the network firewall and
IDS. Hackers have figured out that a small amount of code can be inserted
into an ICMP packet, which is then interpreted by the backdoor software
loaded on a compromised system. Security devices are usually not configured to
monitor this type of traffic because ICMP is a protocol that is supposed to be
used just to send status information—not commands to a compromised system.
Because every packet formation and delivery involves many protocols, and because
more attack vectors exist in the protocols than in the software itself, it is a good idea to
integrate protocol anomaly–based filters in any network behavioral-based IDS.

Traffic Anomaly–Based IDS
Most behavioral-based IDSs have traffic anomaly–based filters, which detect changes in
traffic patterns, as in DoS attacks or a new service that appears on the network. Once a
profile is built that captures the baselines of an environment’s ordinary traffic, all future
traffic patterns are compared to that profile. As with all filters, the thresholds are tunable
to adjust the sensitivity, and to reduce the number of false positives and false negatives.
Since this is a type of statistical anomaly–based IDS, it can detect unknown attacks.

Rule-Based IDS
A rule-based IDS takes a different approach than a signature-based or statistical anomaly–based system. A signature-based IDS is very straightforward. For example, if a signature-based IDS detects a packet that has all of its TCP header flags with the bit value of
1, it knows that an xmas attack is under way—so it sends an alert. A statistical anomaly–
based IDS is also straightforward. For example, if Bob has logged on to his computer at
6 A.M. and the profile indicates this is abnormal, the IDS sends an alert, because this is
seen as an activity that needs to be investigated. Rule-based intrusion detection gets a
little trickier, depending upon the complexity of the rules used.
Rule-based intrusion detection is commonly associated with the use of an expert
system. An expert system is made up of a knowledge base, inference engine, and rulebased programming. Knowledge is represented as rules, and the data to be analyzed are
referred to as facts. The knowledge of the system is written in rule-based programming
(IF situation THEN action). These rules are applied to the facts, the data that comes in
from a sensor, or a system that is being monitored. For example, in scenario 1 the IDS
pulls data from a system’s audit log and stores it temporarily in its fact database, as illustrated in Figure 3-23. Then, the preconfigured rules are applied to this data to indicate whether anything suspicious is taking place. In our scenario, the rule states “IF a
root user creates File1 AND creates File2 SUCH THAT they are in the same directory THEN
there is a call to Administrative Tool1 TRIGGER send alert.” This rule has been defined such
that if a root user creates two files in the same directory and then makes a call to a specific administrative tool, an alert should be sent.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

262

Figure 3-23 Rule-based IDS and expert system components

It is the inference engine that provides some artificial intelligence into this process.
An inference engine can infer new information from provided data by using inference
rules. To understand what inferring means in the first place, let’s look at the following:
Socrates is a man.
All men are mortals.
Thus, we can infer that Socrates is mortal. If you are asking, “What does this have to
do with a hill of beans?” just hold on to your hat—here we go.
Regular programming languages deal with the “black and white” of life. The answer
is either yes or no, not maybe this or maybe that. Although computers can carry out
complex computations at a much faster rate than humans, they have a harder time
guessing, or inferring, answers because they are very structured. The fifth-generation
programming languages (artificial intelligence languages) are capable of dealing with
the grayer areas of life and can attempt to infer the right solution from the provided
data.
So, in a rule-based IDS founded on an expert system, the IDS gathers data from a
sensor or log, and the inference engine uses its preprogrammed rules on it. If the characteristics of the rules are met, an alert or solution is provided.

Chapter 3: Access Control

263
IDS Types
It is important to understand the characteristics that make the different types of
IDS technologies distinct. The following is a summary:
• Signature-based
• Pattern matching, similar to antivirus software
• Signatures must be continuously updated
• Cannot identify new attacks
• Two types:
• Pattern matching Compares packets to signatures
• Stateful matching Compares patterns to several activities
at once
• Anomaly-based
• Behavioral-based system that learns the “normal” activities of an
environment
• Can detect new attacks
• Also called behavior- or heuristic-based
• Three types:
• Statistical anomaly–based Creates a profile of “normal” and
compares activities to this profile
• Protocol anomaly–based Identifies protocols used outside of
their common bounds
• Traffic anomaly–based Identifies unusual activity in network
traffic
• Rule-based
• Use of IF/THEN rule-based programming within expert systems
• Use of an expert system allows for artificial intelligence characteristics
• The more complex the rules, the more demands on software and
hardware processing requirements
• Cannot detect new attacks

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

264
Application-Based IDS
There are specialized IDS products that can monitor specific applications for malicious activities. Since their scopes are very focused (only one application), they
can gather fine-grained and detailed activities. They can be used to capture very
specific application attack types, but it is important to realize that these product
types will miss more general operating system–based attacks because this is not
what they are programmed to detect.
It might be important to implement this type of IDS if a critical application is
carrying out encryption functions that would obfuscate its communication channels and activities from other types of IDS (host, network).

IDS Sensors
Network-based IDSs use sensors for monitoring purposes. A sensor, which works as an
analysis engine, is placed on the network segment the IDS is responsible for monitoring. The sensor receives raw data from an event generator, as shown in Figure 3-24, and

Figure 3-24 The basic architecture of an NIDS

Chapter 3: Access Control

265
compares it to a signature database, profile, or model, depending upon the type of IDS.
If there is some type of a match, which indicates suspicious activity, the sensor works
with the response module to determine what type of activity must take place (alerting
through instant messaging, paging, or by e-mail; carrying out firewall reconfiguration;
and so on). The sensor’s role is to filter received data, discard irrelevant information,
and detect suspicious activity.
A monitoring console monitors all sensors and supplies the network staff with an
overview of the activities of all the sensors in the network. These are the components
that enable network-based intrusion detection to actually work. Sensor placement is a
critical part of configuring an effective IDS. An organization can place a sensor outside
of the firewall to detect attacks and place a sensor inside the firewall (in the perimeter
network) to detect actual intrusions. Sensors should also be placed in highly sensitive
areas, DMZs, and on extranets. Figure 3-25 shows the sensors reporting their findings
to the central console.
The IDS can be centralized, as firewall products that have IDS functionality integrated within them, or distributed, with multiple sensors throughout the network.

Network Traffic
If the network traffic volume exceeds the IDS system’s threshold, attacks may go unnoticed. Each vendor’s IDS product has its own threshold, and you should know and understand that threshold before you purchase and implement the IDS.
In very high-traffic environments, multiple sensors should be in place to ensure all
packets are investigated. If necessary to optimize network bandwidth and speed, different sensors can be set up to analyze each packet for different signatures. That way, the
analysis load can be broken up over different points.

Intrusion Prevention Systems
An ounce of prevention does something good.
Response: Yeah, causes a single point of failure.
In the industry, there is constant frustration with the inability of existing products
to stop the bad guys from accessing and manipulating corporate assets. This has created
a market demand for vendors to get creative and come up with new, innovative technologies and new products for companies to purchase, implement, and still be frustrated with.

Switched Environments
NIDSs have a harder time working on a switched network, compared to traditional nonswitched environments, because data are transferred through independent virtual circuits and not broadcasted, as in nonswitched environments. The
IDS sensor acts as a sniffer and does not have access to all the traffic in these individual circuits. So, we have to take all the data on each individual virtual private
connection, make a copy of them, and put the copies of the data on one port
(spanning port) where the sensor is located. This allows the sensor to have access
to all the data going back and forth on a switched network.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

266

Figure 3-25 Sensors must be placed in each network segment to be monitored by the IDS.

The next “big thing” in the IDS arena has been the intrusion prevention system (IPS).
The traditional IDS only detects that something bad may be taking place and sends an
alert. The goal of an IPS is to detect this activity and not allow the traffic to gain access
to the target in the first place, as shown in Figure 3-26. So, an IPS is a preventative and
proactive technology, whereas an IDS is a detective and after-the-fact technology.
IPS products can be host-based or network-based, just as IDS products. IPS technology can be “content-based,” meaning that it makes decisions pertaining to what is
malicious and what is not based upon protocol analysis or signature matching capabilities. An IPS technology can also use a rate-based metric, which focuses on the volume of traffic. The volume of network traffic increases in case of a flood attack (denial
of service) or when excessive systems scans take place. IPS rate-based metrics can also
be set to identify traffic flow anomalies, which could detect the “slow and low” stealth
attack types that attempt to “stay under the radar.”

Honeypot
Hey, curious, ill-willed, and destructive attackers, look at this shiny new vulnerable computer.
A honeypot is a computer set up as a sacrificial lamb on the network. The system is
not locked down and has open ports and services enabled. This is to entice a would-be
attacker to this computer instead of attacking authentic production systems on a network. The honeypot contains no real company information, and thus will not be at risk
if and when it is attacked.

Chapter 3: Access Control

267

Figure 3-26 IDS vs. IPS architecture

This enables the administrator to know when certain types of attacks are happening
so he can fortify the environment and perhaps track down the attacker. The longer the
hacker stays at the honeypot, the more information will be disclosed about her techniques.
It is important to draw a line between enticement and entrapment when implementing a honeypot system. Legal and liability issues surround each. If the system only has
open ports and services that an attacker might want to take advantage of, this would be
an example of enticement. If the system has a web page indicating the user can download files, and once the user does this the administrator charges this user with trespassing, it would be entrapment. Entrapment is where the intruder is induced or tricked
into committing a crime. Entrapment is illegal and cannot be used when charging an
individual with hacking or unauthorized activity.

Intrusion Responses
Most IDSs and IPSs are capable of several types of response to a triggered event. An
IDS can send out a special signal to drop or kill the packet connections at both the
source and destinations. This effectively disconnects the communication and does
not allow traffic to be transmitted. An IDS might block a user from accessing a resource on a host system, if the threshold is set to trigger this response. An IDS can
send alerts of an event trigger to other hosts, IDS monitors, and administrators.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

268
Network Sniffers
I think I smell a packet!
A packet or network sniffer is a general term for programs or devices able to examine traffic on a LAN segment. Traffic that is being transferred over a network medium is
transmitted as electrical signals, encoded in binary representation. The sniffer has to
have a protocol-analysis capability to recognize the different protocol values to properly interpret their meaning.
The sniffer has to have access to a network adapter that works in promiscuous mode
and a driver that captures the data. This data can be overwhelming, so they must be
properly filtered. The filtered data are stored in a buffer, and this information is displayed to a user and/or captured in logs. Some utilities have sniffer and packet-modification capabilities, which is how some types of spoofing and man-in-the-middle attacks
are carried out.
Network sniffers are used by the people in the white hats (administrators and security professionals) usually to try and track down a recent problem with the network. But
the guys in the black hats (attackers and crackers) can use them to learn about what
type of data is passed over a specific network segment and to modify data in an unauthorized manner. Black hats usually use sniffers to obtain credentials as they pass over
the network medium.
NOTE Sniffers are dangerous and are very hard to detect and their activities
are difficult to audit.

NOTE A sniffer is just a tool that can capture network traffic. If it has the
capability of understanding and interpreting individual protocols and their
associated data, this type of tool is referred to as a protocol analyzer.

Threats to Access Control
Who wants to hurt us and how are they going to do it?
As a majority of security professionals know, there is more risk and a higher probability of an attacker causing mayhem from within an organization than from outside
it. However, many people within organizations do not know this fact, because they
only hear stories about the outside attackers who defaced a web server or circumvented
a firewall to access confidential information.
An attacker from the outside can enter through remote access entry points, enter
through firewalls and web servers, physically break in, carry out social engineering attacks, or exploit a partner communication path (extranet, vendor connection, and so
on). An insider has legitimate reasons for using the systems and resources, but can
misuse his privileges and launch an actual attack also. The danger of insiders is that
they have already been given a wide range of access that a hacker would have to work
to obtain; they probably have intimate knowledge of the environment; and, generally,

Chapter 3: Access Control

269
they are trusted. We have discussed many different types of access control mechanisms
that work to keep the outsiders outside and restrict insiders’ abilities to a minimum and
audit their actions. Now we will look at some specific attacks commonly carried out in
environments today by insiders or outsiders.

Dictionary Attack
Several programs can enable an attacker (or proactive administrator) to identify user
credentials. This type of program is fed lists (dictionaries) of commonly used words or
combinations of characters, and then compares these values to capture passwords. In
other words, the program hashes the dictionary words and compares the resulting message digest with the system password file that also stores its passwords in a one-way
hashed format. If the hashed values match, it means a password has just been uncovered. Once the right combination of characters is identified, the attacker can use this
password to authenticate herself as a legitimate user. Because many systems have a
threshold that dictates how many failed logon attempts are acceptable, the same type
of activity can happen to a captured password file. The dictionary-attack program hashes the combination of characters and compares it to the hashed entries in the password
file. If a match is found, the program has uncovered a password.
The dictionaries come with the password-cracking programs, and extra dictionaries
can be found on several sites on the Internet.
NOTE Passwords should never be transmitted or stored in cleartext.
Most operating systems and applications put the passwords through hashing
algorithms, which result in hash values, also referred to as message digest
values.

Countermeasures
To properly protect an environment against dictionary and other password attacks, the
following practices should be followed:
• Do not allow passwords to be sent in cleartext.
• Encrypt the passwords with encryption algorithms or hashing functions.
• Employ one-time password tokens.
• Use hard-to-guess passwords.
• Rotate passwords frequently.
• Employ an IDS to detect suspicious behavior.
• Use dictionary-cracking tools to find weak passwords chosen by users.
• Use special characters, numbers, and upper- and lowercase letters within the
password.
• Protect password files.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

270
Brute Force Attacks
I will try over and over until you are defeated.
Several types of brute force attacks can be implemented, but each continually tries
different inputs to achieve a predefined goal. Brute force is defined as “trying every possible combination until the correct one is identified.” So in a brute force password attack, the software tool will see if the first letter is an “a” and continue through the
alphabet until that single value is uncovered. Then the tool moves on to the second
value, and so on.
The most effective way to uncover passwords is through a hybrid attack, which combines a dictionary attack and a brute force attack. If a dictionary tool has found that a
user’s password starts with Dallas, then the brute force tool will try Dallas1, Dallas01,
Dallasa1, and so on until a successful logon credential is uncovered. (A brute force attack is also known as an exhaustive attack.)
These attacks are also used in war dialing efforts, in which the war dialer inserts a
long list of phone numbers into a war dialing program in hopes of finding a modem
that can be exploited to gain unauthorized access. A program is used to dial many
phone numbers and weed out the numbers used for voice calls and fax machine services. The attacker usually ends up with a handful of numbers he can now try to exploit
to gain access into a system or network.
So, a brute force attack perpetuates a specific activity with different input parameters until the goal is achieved.

Countermeasures
For phone brute force attacks, auditing and monitoring of this type of activity should
be in place to uncover patterns that could indicate a war dialing attack:
• Perform brute force attacks to find weaknesses and hanging modems.
• Make sure only necessary phone numbers are made public.
• Provide stringent access control methods that would make brute force attacks
less successful.
• Monitor and audit for such activity.
• Employ an IDS to watch for suspicious activity.
• Set lockout thresholds.

Spoofing at Logon
So, what are your credentials again?
An attacker can use a program that presents to the user a fake logon screen, which
often tricks the user into attempting to log on. The user is asked for a username and
password, which are stored for the attacker to access at a later time. The user does not
know this is not his usual logon screen because they look exactly the same. A fake error
message can appear, indicating that the user mistyped his credentials. At this point, the
fake logon program exits and hands control over to the operating system, which prompts
the user for a username and password. The user assumes he mistyped his information
and doesn’t give it a second thought, but an attacker now knows the user’s credentials.

Chapter 3: Access Control

271
Phishing and Pharming
Hello, this is your bank. Hand over your SSN, credit card number, and your shoe size.
Response: Okay, that sounds honest enough.
Phishing is a type of social engineering with the goal of obtaining personal information, credentials, credit card number, or financial data. The attackers lure, or fish, for
sensitive data through various different methods.
The term phishing was coined in 1996 when hackers started stealing America Online
(AOL) passwords. The hackers would pose as AOL staff members and send messages to
victims asking them for their passwords in order to verify correct billing information or
verify information about the AOL accounts. Once the password was provided, the hacker authenticated as that victim and used his e-mail account for criminal purposes, as in
spamming, pornography, and so on.
Although phishing has been around since the 1990s, many people did not fully
become aware of it until mid-2003 when these types of attacks spiked. Phishers created
convincing e-mails requesting potential victims to click a link to update their bank account information.
Victims click these links and are presented with a form requesting bank account
numbers, Social Security numbers, credentials, and other types of data that can be used
in identity theft crimes. These types of phishing e-mail scams have increased dramatically in recent years with some phishers masquerading as large banking companies,
PayPal, eBay, Amazon.com, and other well-known Internet entities.
Phishers also create web sites that look very similar to legitimate sites and lure victims to them through e-mail messages and other web sites to gain the same type of information. Some sites require the victims to provide their Social Security numbers, date
of birth, and mother’s maiden name for authentication purposes before they can update their account information.
The nefarious web sites not only have the look and feel of the legitimate web site,
but attackers would provide URLs with domain names that look very similar to the legitimate site’s address. For example, www.amazon.com might become www.amzaon.
com. Or use a specially placed @ symbol. For example, www.msn.com@notmsn.com
would actually take the victim to the web site notmsn.com and provide the username
of www.msn.com to this web site. The username www.msn.com would not be a valid
username for notmsn.com, so the victim would just be shown the home page of notmsn.com. Now, notmsn.com is a nefarious site and created to look and feel just like
www.msn.com. The victim feels comfortable he is at a legitimate site and logs on with
his credentials.
Some JavaScript commands are even designed to show the victim an incorrect web
address. So let’s say Bob is a suspicious and vigilant kind of a guy. Before he inputs his
username and password to authenticate and gain access to his online bank account, he
always checks the URL values in the address bar of his browser. Even though he closely
inspects it to make sure he is not getting duped, there could be a JavaScript replacing
the URL www.evilandwilltakeallyourmoney.com with www.citibank.com so he thinks
things are safe and life is good.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

272
NOTE There have been fixes to the previously mentioned attack dealing with
URLs, but it is important to know that attackers will continually come up with
new ways of carrying out these attacks. Just knowing about phishing doesn’t
mean you can properly detect or prevent it. As a security professional, you
must keep up with the new and tricky strategies deployed by attackers.
Some attacks use pop-up forms when a victim is at a legitimate site. So if you were
at your bank’s actual web site and a pop-up window appeared asking you for some
sensitive information, this probably wouldn’t worry you since you were communicating with your actual bank’s web site. You may believe the window came from your
bank’s web server, so you fill it out as instructed. Unfortunately, this pop-up window
could be from another source entirely, and your data could be placed right in the attacker’s hands, not your bank’s.
With this personal information, phishers can create new accounts in the victim’s
name, gain authorized access to bank accounts, and make illegal credit card purchases
or cash advances.
As more people have become aware of these types of attacks and grown wary of
clicking embedded links in e-mail messages, phishers have varied their attack methods.
For instance, they began sending e-mails that indicate to the user that they have won a
prize or that there is a problem with a financial account. The e-mail instructs the person
to call a number, which has an automated voice asking the victim to type in their
credit card number or Social Security number for authentication purposes.
As phishing attacks increase and more people have become victims of fraud, financial institutions have been implementing two-factor authentication for online transactions. To meet this need, some banks provided their customers with token devices that
created one-time passwords. Countering, phishers set up fake web sites that looked like
the financial institution, duping victims into typing their one-time passwords. The web
sites would then send these credentials to the actual bank web site, authenticate as this
user, and gain access to their account.
A similar type of attack is called pharming, which redirects a victim to a seemingly
legitimate, yet fake, web site. In this type of attack, the attacker carries out something
called DNS poisoning, in which a DNS server resolves a host name into an incorrect IP
address. When you type www.logicalsecurity.com into the address bar of your web

Spear-phishing
When a phishing attack is crafted to trick a specific target and not a large generic
group of people, this is referred to as a spear-phishing attack. If someone knows
about your specific likes, political motives, shopping habits, etc., the attacker can
craft an attack that is directed only at you. For example, if an attacker sends you a
spoofed e-mail that seems to have come from your mother with the subject line
of “Emily’s Birthday Pictures” and an e-mail attachment, you will most likely
think it came from your mother and open the file, which will then infect your
system. These specialized attacks take more time for the hacker to craft because
unique information has to be gathered about the target, but they are more successful because they are more convincing.

Chapter 3: Access Control

273
browser, your computer really has no idea what these data are. So an internal request is
made to review your TCP/IP network setting, which contains the IP address of the DNS
server your computer is supposed to use. Your system then sends a request to this
DNS server basically asking, “Do you have the IP address for www.logicalsecurity.com?”
The DNS server reviews its resource records and if it has one with this information in it,
it sends the IP address for the server that is hosting www.logicalsecurity.com to your
computer. Your browser then shows the home page of this web site you requested.
Now, what if an attacker poisoned this DNS server so the resource record has the
wrong information? When you type in www.logicalsecurity.com and your system sends
a request to the DNS server, the DNS server will send your system the IP address that it
has recorded, not knowing it is incorrect. So instead of going to www.logicalsecurity.
com, you are sent to www.bigbooty.com. This could make you happy or sad, depending
upon your interests, but you are not at the site you requested.
So, let’s say the victim types in a web address of www.nicebank.com, as illustrated
in Figure 3-27. The victim’s system sends a request to a poisoned DNS server, which
points the victim to a different web site. This different web site looks and feels just like
the requested web site, so the user enters his username and password and may even be
presented with web pages that look legitimate.
The benefit of a pharming attack to the attacker is that it can affect a large amount
of victims without the need for sending out e-mails, and the victims usually fall for this
more easily since they are requesting to go to a web site themselves.
Countermeasures to phishing attacks include the following:
• Be skeptical of e-mails indicating you must make changes to your accounts,
or warnings stating an account will be terminated if you don’t perform some
online activity.
• Call the legitimate company to find out if this is a fraudulent message.
• Review the address bar to see if the domain name is correct.
• When submitting any type of financial information or credential data, an SSL
connection should be set up, which is indicated in the address bar (https://)
and a closed-padlock icon in the browser at the bottom-right corner.
• Do not click an HTML link within an e-mail. Type the URL out manually
instead.
• Do not accept e-mail in HTML format.

Threat Modeling
In reality most attacks that take place are attacks on some type of access control. This is
because in most situations the bad guy wants access to something he is not supposed
to have (i.e., Social Security numbers, financial data, sensitive information, etc.) What
makes it very difficult for the security professional is that there are usually a hundred
different ways the bad guy can get to this data and each entry point has to be secured.
But before each entry point can be secured and attack vector addressed, they first have
to be identified.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

274

Figure 3-27 Pharming has been a common attack over the last couple of years.

Assessing security issues can take place from two different views. If a vulnerability
analysis is carried out, this means the organization is looking for all the holes that a bad
guy could somehow exploit and enter. A vulnerability analysis could be carried out by
scanning systems and identifying missing patches, misconfigured settings, orphaned
user accounts, programming code mistakes, etc. It is like looking for all the cracks in a
wall that need to be filled. Threat modeling is a structured approach to identifying potential threats that could exploit vulnerabilities. A threat modeling approach looks at
who would most likely want to attack us and how could they successfully do this. Instead of being heads-down and focusing on the cracks in one wall, we are looking
outward and trying to figure out all the ways our structure could be attacked (through
windows, doors, bombs, imposters, etc.).
If you ran a vulnerability scanner on one system that stores sensitive data, you
would probably come up with a list of things that should be fixed (directory permission setting, registry entry, missing patch, unnecessary service). Once you fix all of these
things, you might feel good about yourself and assume the sensitive data are now safe.
But life is not that simple. What about the following items?
• How is this system connected to other systems?
• Are the sensitive data encrypted while in storage and transit?
• Who has access to this system?
• Can someone physically steal this system?
• Can someone insert a USB device and extract the data?
• What are the vectors that malware can be installed on the system?

Chapter 3: Access Control

275
• Is this system protected in case of a disaster?
• Can an authorized user make unauthorized changes to this system or data?
• Could an authorized user be social engineered into allowing unauthorized
access?
• Are there any access channels that are not auditable?
• Could any authentication steps be bypassed?
So to follow our analogy, you could fill all the cracks in the one wall you are focusing on and the bad guy could just enter the facility through the door you forgot to lock.
You have to think about all the ways an asset could be attacked if you are really going
to secure it.
Threat modeling is a process of identifying the threats that could negatively affect
an asset and the attack vectors they would use to achieve their goals. Figure 3-28 illustrates a threat modeling tree that steps through issues that need to be addressed if an
organization is going to store sensitive data in a cloud environment.
If you think about who would want to attack you, you can then brainstorm on how
they could potentially accomplish their goal and put countermeasures in place to
thwart these types of attacks.
We will cover threat modeling more in-depth in Chapter 10 because it is becoming
a common approach to architecting software, but it is important to realize that security
should be analyzed from two points of view. A vulnerability analysis looks within, and
a threat modeling approach looks outward. Threat modeling works at a higher abstraction level, and vulnerability analysis works at a lower detail-oriented level. Both need
to be carried out and their results merged so that all risks can be understood and properly addressed. As an analogy, if I focused on making my body healthy by eating right,
working out, and keeping my cholesterol down, I am focusing internally, which is great.
But if I don’t pick up my head and look around my environment, I could be standing
right in the middle of a street and get hit by a bus. Then my unclogged arteries and low
body fat ratio really do not matter.

Identity Theft
I’m glad someone stole my identity. I’m tired of being me.
Identity theft refers to a situation where someone obtains key pieces of personal
information, such as a driver’s license number, bank account number, credentials, or
Social Security number, and then uses that information to impersonate someone else.
Typically, identity thieves will use the personal information to obtain credit, merchandise, services in the name of the victim, or false credentials for the thief. This can result
in such things as ruining the victim’s credit rating, generating false criminal records,
and issuing arrest warrants for the wrong individuals. Identity theft is categorized in
two ways: true name and account takeover. True-name identity theft means the thief
uses personal information to open new accounts. The thief might open a new credit
card account, establish cellular phone service, or open a new checking account in order
to obtain blank checks. Account-takeover identity theft means the imposter uses personal information to gain access to the person’s existing accounts. Typically, the thief

1.2
Data
intelligible

1.1
Unauthorized
access

1.1.1
Accidentally
compromised

1.1.1.1
Misconfiguration

1.1.1.2
Cloud
infrastructure
enforcement
failure

Figure 3-28 Threat modeling

1.2.1
Data not
encrypted

1.1.2
Deliberately
compromised

1.1.1.3
H/W repair
takes data out of
data center

1.1.2.1
Inside job
(business)

1.1.2.2
Inside job
(data center)

1.1.2.3
Data in
transmission
observed

1.2.2
Encryption key
uncovered

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

276

Threat 1
Unauthorized access
to sensitive data

Chapter 3: Access Control

277
will change the mailing address on an account and run up a huge bill before the person, whose identity has been stolen, realizes there is a problem. The Internet has made
it easier for an identity thief to use the information they’ve stolen because transactions
can be made without any personal interaction.

Summary
Access controls are security features that are usually considered the first line of defense
in asset protection. They are used to dictate how subjects access objects, and their main
goal is to protect the objects from unauthorized access. These controls can be administrative, physical, or technical in nature and should be applied in a layered approach,
ensuring that an intruder would have to compromise more than one countermeasure
to access critical assets.
Access control defines how users should be identified, authenticated, and authorized. These issues are carried out differently in different access control models and
technologies, and it is up to the organization to determine which best fits its business
and security needs.
Access control needs to be integrated into the core of operating systems through the
use of DAC, MAC, and RBAC models. It needs to be embedded into applications, network devices, and protocols, and enforced in the physical world through the use of security zones, network segmentation, locked doors, and security guards. Security is all
about keeping the bad guys out and unfortunately there are many different types of
“doorways” they can exploit to get access to our most critical assets.

Quick Tips
• Access is a flow of information between a subject and an object.
• A subject is an active entity that requests access to an object, which is a passive
entity.
• A subject can be a user, program, or process.
• Some security mechanisms that provide confidentiality are encryption, logical
and physical access control, transmission protocols, database views, and
controlled traffic flow.
• Identity management solutions include directories, web access management,
password management, legacy single sign-on, account management, and
profile update.
• Password synchronization reduces the complexity of keeping up with different
passwords for different systems.
• Self-service password reset reduces help-desk call volumes by allowing users to
reset their own passwords.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

278
• Assisted password reset reduces the resolution process for password issues for
the help-desk department.
• IdM directories contain all resource information, users’ attributes, authorization
profiles, roles, and possibly access control policies so other IdM applications
have one centralized resource from which to gather this information.
• An automated workflow component is common in account management
products that provide IdM solutions.
• User provisioning refers to the creation, maintenance, and deactivation of
user objects and attributes, as they exist in one or more systems, directories,
or applications.
• The HR database is usually considered the authoritative source for user
identities because that is where it is first developed and properly maintained.
• There are three main access control models: discretionary, mandatory, and
role-based.
• Discretionary access control (DAC) enables data owners to dictate what
subjects have access to the files and resources they own.
• The mandatory access control (MAC) model uses a security label system.
Users have clearances, and resources have security labels that contain data
classifications. MAC systems compare these two attributes to determine access
control capabilities.
• Role-based access control is based on the user’s role and responsibilities
(tasks) within the company.
• Three main types of restricted interface measurements exist: menus and shells,
database views, and physically constrained interfaces.
• Access control lists are bound to objects and indicate what subjects can
use them.
• A capability table is bound to a subject and lists what objects it can access.
• Access control can be administered in two main ways: centralized and
decentralized.
• Some examples of centralized administration access control technologies are
RADIUS, TACACS+, and Diameter.
• A decentralized administration example is a peer-to-peer working group.
• Examples of administrative controls are a security policy, personnel controls,
supervisory structure, security-awareness training, and testing.
• Examples of physical controls are network segregation, perimeter security,
computer controls, work area separation, and cable.

Chapter 3: Access Control

279
• Examples of technical controls are system access, network architecture,
network access, encryption and protocols, and auditing.
• For a subject to be able to access a resource, it must be identified,
authenticated, and authorized, and should be held accountable for its actions.
• Authentication can be accomplished by biometrics, a password, a passphrase,
a cognitive password, a one-time password, or a token.
• A Type I error in biometrics means the system rejected an authorized
individual, and a Type II error means an imposter was authenticated.
• A memory card cannot process information, but a smart card can through the
use of integrated circuits and processors.
• Least-privilege and need-to-know principles limit users’ rights to only what is
needed to perform tasks of their job.
• Single sign-on capabilities can be accomplished through Kerberos, SESAME,
domains, and thin clients.
• The Kerberos user receives a ticket granting ticket (TGT), which allows him to
request access to resources through the ticket granting service (TGS). The TGS
generates a new ticket with the session keys.
• Types of access control attacks include denial of service, spoofing, dictionary,
brute force, and war dialing.
• Keystroke monitoring is a type of auditing that tracks each keystroke made by
a user.
• Object reuse can unintentionally disclose information by assigning media to a
subject before it is properly erased.
• Just removing pointers to files (deleting file, formatting hard drive) is not
always enough protection for proper object reuse.
• Information can be obtained via electrical signals in airwaves. The ways to
combat this type of intrusion are TEMPEST, white noise, and control zones.
• User authentication is accomplished by what someone knows, is, or has.
• One-time password-generating token devices can use synchronous (time,
event) or asynchronous (challenge-based) methods.
• Strong authentication requires two of the three user authentication attributes
(what someone knows, is, or has).
• The following are weaknesses of Kerberos: the KDC is a single point of failure;
it is susceptible to password guessing; session and secret keys are locally stored;
KDC needs to always be available; and there must be management of secret keys.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

280
• Phishing is a type of social engineering with the goal of obtaining personal
information, credentials, credit card numbers, or financial data.
• A race condition is possible when two or more processes use a shared resource
and the access steps could take place out of sequence
• Mutual authentication is when two entities must authenticate to each other
before sending data back and forth. Also referred to as two-way authentication.
• A directory service is a software component that stores, organizes, and
provides access to resources, which are listed in a directory (listing) of
resources. Individual resources are assigned names within a namespace.
• A cookie is data that are held permanently on a hard drive in the format of
a text file or held temporarily in memory. It can be used to store browsing
habits, authentication data, or protocol state information.
• A federated identity is a portable identity, and its associated entitlements, that
can be used across business boundaries without the need to synchronize or
consolidate directory information.
• Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a set of rules for encoding documents
in machine-readable form to allow for interoperability between various webbased technologies.
• Service Provisioning Markup Language (SPML) is an XML-based framework,
being developed by OASIS, for exchanging user, resource, and service
provisioning information between cooperating organizations.
• eXtensible Access Control Markup Language (XACML) a declarative access
control policy language implemented in XML and a processing model,
describes how to interpret security policies.
• Replay attack is a form of network attack in which a valid data transmission is
maliciously or fraudulently repeated with the goal of obtaining unauthorized
access.
• Clipping level is a threshold value. Once a threshold value is passed, the
activity is considered to be an event that is logged, investigated, or both.
• Rainbow table is a set of precomputed hash values that represent password
combinations. These are used in password attack processes and usually
produce results more quickly than dictionary or brute force attacks.
• Cognitive passwords are fact- or opinion-based information used to verify an
individual’s identity.
• Smart cards can require physical interaction with a reader (contact) or no
physical interaction with the reader (contactless architectures). Two contactless
architectures are combi (one chip) and hybrid (two chips).

Chapter 3: Access Control

281
• A side channel attack is carried out by gathering data pertaining to how
something works and using that data to attack it or crack it, as in differential
power analysis or electromagnetic analysis.
• Authorization creep takes place when a user gains too much access rights and
permissions over time.
• SESAME is a single sign-on technology developed to address issues in
Kerberos. It is based upon public key cryptography (asymmetric) and uses
privileged attribute servers and certificates.
• Security information and event management implements data mining and
analysis functionality to be carried out on centralized logs for situational
awareness capabilities.
• Intrusion detection systems are either host or network based and provide
behavioral (statistical) or signature (knowledge) types of functionality.
• Phishing is a type of social engineering attack. If it is crafted for a specific
individual, it is called spear-phishing. If a DNS server is poisoned and points
users to a malicious website, this is referred to as pharming.
• A web portal is commonly made up of portlets, which are pluggable user
interface software components that present information and services from
other systems.
• The Service Provisioning Markup Language (SPML) allows for the automation
of user management (account creation, amendments, revocation) and access
entitlement configuration related to electronically published services across
multiple provisioning systems.
• The Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) allows for the exchange of
authentication and authorization data to be shared between security domains.
• The Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) is a protocol specification for
exchanging structured information in the implementation of web services and
networked environments.
• Service oriented architecture (SOA) environments allow for a suite of
interoperable services to be used within multiple, separate systems from
several business domains.
• Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a technology that provides data
communication through the use of radio waves.
• Threat modeling identifies potential threats and attack vectors. Vulnerability
analysis identifies weaknesses and lack of countermeasures.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

282
Questions
Please remember that these questions are formatted and asked in a certain way for a
reason. Remember that the CISSP exam is asking questions at a conceptual level. Questions may not always have the perfect answer, and the candidate is advised against always looking for the perfect answer. Instead, the candidate should look for the best
answer in the list.
1. Which of the following statements correctly describes biometric methods?
A. They are the least expensive and provide the most protection.
B. They are the most expensive and provide the least protection.
C. They are the least expensive and provide the least protection.
D. They are the most expensive and provide the most protection.
2. Which of the following statements correctly describes passwords?
A. They are the least expensive and most secure.
B. They are the most expensive and least secure.
C. They are the least expensive and least secure.
D. They are the most expensive and most secure.
3. How is a challenge/response protocol utilized with token device
implementations?
A. This protocol is not used; cryptography is used.
B. An authentication service generates a challenge, and the smart token
generates a response based on the challenge.
C. The token challenges the user for a username and password.
D. The token challenges the user’s password against a database of stored
credentials.
4. Which access control method is considered user-directed?
A. Nondiscretionary
B. Mandatory
C. Identity-based
D. Discretionary
5. Which item is not part of a Kerberos authentication implementation?
A. Message authentication code
B. Ticket granting service
C. Authentication service
D. Users, programs, and services

Chapter 3: Access Control

283
6. If a company has a high turnover rate, which access control structure is best?
A. Role-based
B. Decentralized
C. Rule-based
D. Discretionary
7. The process of mutual authentication involves _______________.
A. A user authenticating to a system and the system authenticating to the user
B. A user authenticating to two systems at the same time
C. A user authenticating to a server and then to a process
D. A user authenticating, receiving a ticket, and then authenticating to a service
8. In discretionary access control security, who has delegation authority to grant
access to data?
A. User
B. Security officer
C. Security policy
D. Owner
9. Which could be considered a single point of failure within a single sign-on
implementation?
A. Authentication server
B. User’s workstation
C. Logon credentials
D. RADIUS
10. What role does biometrics play in access control?
A. Authorization
B. Authenticity
C. Authentication
D. Accountability
11. What determines if an organization is going to operate under a discretionary,
mandatory, or nondiscretionary access control model?
A. Administrator
B. Security policy
C. Culture
D. Security levels

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

284
12. Which of the following best describes what role-based access control offers
companies in reducing administrative burdens?
A. It allows entities closer to the resources to make decisions about who can
and cannot access resources.
B. It provides a centralized approach for access control, which frees up
department managers.
C. User membership in roles can be easily revoked and new ones established
as job assignments dictate.
D. It enforces enterprise-wide security policies, standards, and guidelines.
13. Which of the following is the best description of directories that are used in
identity management technology?
A. Most are hierarchical and follow the X.500 standard.
B. Most have a flat architecture and follow the X.400 standard.
C. Most have moved away from LDAP.
D. Many use LDA.
14. Which of the following is not part of user provisioning?
A. Creation and deactivation of user accounts
B. Business process implementation
C. Maintenance and deactivation of user objects and attributes
D. Delegating user administration
15. What is the technology that allows a user to remember just one password?
A. Password generation
B. Password dictionaries
C. Password rainbow tables
D. Password synchronization
16. Which of the following is not considered an anomaly-based intrusion
protection system?
A. Statistical anomaly–based
B. Protocol anomaly–based
C. Temporal anomaly–based
D. Traffic anomaly–based
17. The next graphic covers which of the following:

Chapter 3: Access Control

285

A. Crossover error rate
B. Identity verification
C. Authorization rates
D. Authentication error rates
18. The diagram shown next explains which of the following concepts:

A. Crossover error rate.
B. Type III errors.
C. FAR equals FRR in systems that have a high crossover error rate.
D. Biometrics is a high acceptance technology.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

286
19. The graphic shown here illustrates how which of the following works:

A. Rainbow tables
B. Dictionary attack
C. One-time password
D. Strong authentication
20. Which of the following has the correct definition mapping?
i. Brute force attacks Performed with tools that cycle through many
possible character, number, and symbol combinations to uncover a
password.
ii. Dictionary attacks Files of thousands of words are compared to the user’s
password until a match is found.
iii. Social engineering An attacker falsely convinces an individual that she
has the necessary authorization to access specific resources.
iv. Rainbow table An attacker uses a table that contains all possible
passwords already in a hash format.
A. i, ii
B. i, ii, iv
C. i, ii, iii, iv
D. i, ii, iii
21. George is responsible for setting and tuning the thresholds for his company’s
behavior-based IDS. Which of the following outlines the possibilities of not
doing this activity properly?

Chapter 3: Access Control

287
A. If the threshold is set too low, nonintrusive activities are considered attacks
(false positives). If the threshold is set too high, then malicious activities
are not identified (false negatives).
B. If the threshold is set too low, nonintrusive activities are considered attacks
(false negatives). If the threshold is set too high, then malicious activities
are not identified (false positives).
C. If the threshold is set too high, nonintrusive activities are considered
attacks (false positives). If the threshold is set too low, then malicious
activities are not identified (false negatives).
D. If the threshold is set too high, nonintrusive activities are considered
attacks (false positives). If the threshold is set too high, then malicious
activities are not identified (false negatives).
Use the following scenario to answer Questions 22–24.Tom is a new security manager for a
retail company, which currently has an identity management system (IdM) in place.
The data within the various identity stores update more quickly than the current IDM
software can keep up with, so some access decisions are made based upon obsolete
information. While the IDM currently provides centralized access control of internal
network assets, it is not tied into the web-based access control components that are
embedded within the company’s partner portals. Tom also notices that help-desk technicians are spending too much time resetting passwords for internal employees.
22. Which of the following changes would be best for Tom’s team to implement?
A. Move from namespaces to distinguished names.
B. Move from meta-directories to virtual directories.
C. Move from RADIUS to TACACS+.
D. Move from a centralized to a decentralized control model.
23. Which of the following components should Tom make sure his team puts
into place?
A. Single sign-on module
B. LDAP directory service synchronization
C. Web access management
D. X.500 database
24. Tom has been told that he has to reduce staff from the help-desk team.
Which of the following technologies can help with the company’s help-desk
budgetary issues?
A. Self-service password support
B. RADIUS implementation
C. Reduction of authoritative IdM sources
D. Implement a role-based access control model

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

288
Use the following scenario to answer Questions 25–27. Lenny is a new security manager for
a retail company that is expanding its functionality to its partners and customers. The
company’s CEO wants to allow its partners’ customers to be able to purchase items
through their web stores as easily as possible. The CEO also wants the company’s partners to be able to manage inventory across companies more easily. The CEO wants to
be able to understand the network traffic and activities in a holistic manner, and he
wants to know from Lenny what type of technology should be put into place to allow
for a more proactive approach to stopping malicious traffic if it enters the network. The
company is a high-profile entity constantly dealing with zero-day attacks.
25. Which of the following is the best identity management technology that Lenny
should consider implementing to accomplish some of the company’s needs?
A. LDAP directories for authoritative sources
B. Digital identity provisioning
C. Active Directory
D. Federated identity
26. Lenny has a meeting with the internal software developers who are responsible
for implementing the necessary functionality within the web-based system.
Which of the following best describes the two items that Lenny needs to be
prepared to discuss with this team?
A. Service Provisioning Markup Language and the eXtensible Access Control
Markup Language
B. Standard Generalized Markup Language and the Generalized Markup
Language
C. Extensible Markup Language and the HyperText Markup Language
D. Service Provisioning Markup Language and the Generalized Markup
Language
27. Pertaining to the CEO’s security concerns, what should Lenny suggest the
company put into place?
A. Security event management software, intrusion prevention system, and
behavior-based intrusion detection
B. Security information and event management software, intrusion detection
system, and signature-based protection
C. Intrusion prevention system, security event management software, and
malware protection
D. Intrusion prevention system, security event management software, and war
dialing protection
Use the following scenario to answer Questions 28–29. Robbie is the security administrator
of a company that needs to extend its remote access functionality. Employees travel
around the world, but still need to be able to gain access to corporate assets as in databases, servers, and network-based devices. Also, while the company has had a VoIP

Chapter 3: Access Control

289
telephony solution in place for two years, it has not been integrated into a centralized
access control solution. Currently the network administrators have to maintain access
control separately for internal resources, external entities, and VoIP end systems. Robbie has also been asked to look into some specious e-mails that the CIO’s secretary has
been receiving, and her boss has asked her to remove some old modems that are no
longer being used for remote dial-in purposes.
28. Which of the following is the best remote access technology for this situation?
A. RADIUS
B. TACAS+
C. Diameter
D. Kerberos
29. What are the two main security concerns Robbie is most likely being asked to
identify and mitigate?
A. Social engineering and spear-phishing
B. War dialing and pharming
C. Spear-phishing and war dialing
D. Pharming and spear-phishing
Use the following scenario to answer Questions 30–32. Tanya is working with the company’s
internal software development team. Before a user of an application can access files located on the company’s centralized server, the user must present a valid one-time password, which is generated through a challenge-response mechanism. The company needs
to tighten access control for these files and reduce the number of users who can access
each and every file. The company is looking to Tanya and her team for solutions to better
protect the data that have been classified and deemed critical to the company’s missions.
Tanya has also been asked to implement a single sign-on technology for all internal users, but she does not have the budget to implement a public key infrastructure.
30. Which of the following best describes what is currently in place?
A. Capability-based access system
B. Synchronous tokens that generate one-time passwords
C. RADIUS
D. Kerberos
31. Which of the following is one of the easiest and best items Tanya can look
into for proper data protection?
A. Implementation of mandatory access control
B. Implementation of access control lists
C. Implementation of digital signatures
D. Implementation of multilevel security

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

290
32. Which of the following is the best single sign-on technology for this situation?
A. SESAME
B. Kerberos
C. RADIUS
D. TACACS+
Use the following scenario to answer Questions 33–35. Harry is overseeing a team that has
to integrate various business services provided by different company departments into
one web portal for both internal employees and external partners. His company has a
diverse and heterogeneous environment with different types of systems providing customer relationship management, inventory control, e-mail, and help-desk ticketing capabilities. His team needs to allow different users access to these different services in a
secure manner.
33. Which of the following best describes the type of environment Harry’s team
needs to set up?
A. RADIUS
B. Service oriented architecture
C. Public key infrastructure
D. Web services
34. Which of the following best describes the types of languages and/or protocols
that Harry needs to ensure are implemented?
A. Security Assertion Markup Language, Extensible Access Control Markup
Language, Service Provisioning Markup Language
B. Service Provisioning Markup Language, Simple Object Access Protocol,
Extensible Access Control Markup Language
C. Extensible Access Control Markup Language, Security Assertion Markup
Language, Simple Object Access Protocol
D. Service Provisioning Markup Language, Security Association Markup
Language
35. The company’s partners need to integrate compatible authentication
functionality into their web portals to allow for interoperability across the
different company boundaries. Which of the following will deal with this
issue?
A. Service Provisioning Markup Language
B. Simple Object Access Protocol
C. Extensible Access Control Markup Language
D. Security Assertion Markup Language

Chapter 3: Access Control

291
Answers
1. D. Compared with the other available authentication mechanisms, biometric
methods provide the highest level of protection and are the most expensive.
2. C. Passwords provide the least amount of protection, but are the cheapest
because they do not require extra readers (as with smart cards and memory
cards), do not require devices (as do biometrics), and do not require a lot of
overhead in processing (as in cryptography). Passwords are the most common
type of authentication method used today.
3. B. An asynchronous token device is based on challenge/response mechanisms.
The authentication service sends the user a challenge value, which the user
enters into the token. The token encrypts or hashes this value, and the user
uses this as her one-time password.
4. D. The DAC model allows users, or data owners, the discretion of letting other
users access their resources. DAC is implemented by ACLs, which the data
owner can configure.
5. A. Message authentication code (MAC) is a cryptographic function and is
not a key component of Kerberos. Kerberos is made up of a KDC, a realm
of principals (users, services, applications, and devices), an authentication
service, tickets, and a ticket granting service.
6. A. It is easier on the administrator if she only has to create one role, assign
all of the necessary rights and permissions to that role, and plug a user into
that role when needed. Otherwise, she would need to assign and extract
permissions and rights on all systems as each individual came and left the
company.
7. A. Mutual authentication means it is happening in both directions. Instead
of just the user having to authenticate to the server, the server also must
authenticate to the user.
8. D. This question may seem a little confusing if you were stuck between user
and owner. Only the data owner can decide who can access the resources
she owns. She may be a user and she may not. A user is not necessarily the
owner of the resource. Only the actual owner of the resource can dictate what
subjects can actually access the resource.
9. A. In a single sign-on technology, all users are authenticating to one source. If
that source goes down, authentication requests cannot be processed.
10. C. Biometrics is a technology that validates an individual’s identity by reading
a physical attribute. In some cases, biometrics can be used for identification,
but that was not listed as an answer choice.
11. B. The security policy sets the tone for the whole security program. It dictates
the level of risk that management and the company are willing to accept. This
in turn dictates the type of controls and mechanisms to put in place to ensure
this level of risk is not exceeded.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

292
12. C. An administrator does not need to revoke and reassign permissions to
individual users as they change jobs. Instead, the administrator assigns
permissions and rights to a role, and users are plugged into those roles.
13. A. Most enterprises have some type of directory that contains information
pertaining to the company’s network resources and users. Most directories
follow a hierarchical database format, based on the X.500 standard, and a
type of protocol, as in Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), that
allows subjects and applications to interact with the directory. Applications
can request information about a particular user by making an LDAP request
to the directory, and users can request information about a specific resource
by using a similar request.
14. B. User provisioning refers to the creation, maintenance, and deactivation of
user objects and attributes as they exist in one or more systems, directories,
or applications, in response to business processes. User provisioning software
may include one or more of the following components: change propagation,
self-service workflow, consolidated user administration, delegated user
administration, and federated change control. User objects may represent
employees, contractors, vendors, partners, customers, or other recipients of
a service. Services may include electronic mail, access to a database, access
to a file server or mainframe, and so on.
15. D. Password synchronization technologies can allow a user to maintain just
one password across multiple systems. The product will synchronize the
password to other systems and applications, which happens transparently
to the user.
16. C. Behavioral-based system that learns the “normal” activities of an
environment. The three types are listed next:
• Statistical anomaly–based Creates a profile of “normal” and compares
activities to this profile
• Protocol anomaly–based Identifies protocols used outside of their
common bounds
• Traffic anomaly–based Identifies unusual activity in network traffic
17. B. These steps are taken to convert the biometric input for identity verification:
i. A software application identifies specific points of data as match points.
ii. An algorithm is used to process the match points and translate that
information into a numeric value.
iii. Authentication is approved or denied when the database value is
compared with the end user input entered into the scanner.
18. A. This rating is stated as a percentage and represents the point at which the
false rejection rate equals the false acceptance rate. This rating is the most
important measurement when determining a biometric system’s accuracy.

Chapter 3: Access Control

293
• (Type I error) rejects authorized individual
• False Reject Rate (FRR)
• (Type II error) accepts impostor
• False Acceptance Rate (FAR)
19. C. Different types of one-time passwords are used for authentication. This
graphic illustrates a synchronous token device, which synchronizes with the
authentication service by using time or a counter as the core piece of the
authentication process.
20. C. The list has all the correct terms to definition mappings.
21. C. If the threshold is set too high, nonintrusive activities are considered
attacks (false positives). If the threshold is set too low, then malicious
activities are not identified (false negatives).
22. B. A meta-directory within an IDM physically contains the identity
information within an identity store. It allows identity information to be
pulled from various locations and be stored in one local system (identity
store). The data within the identity store are updated through a replication
process, which may take place weekly, daily, or hourly depending upon
configuration. Virtual directories use pointers to where the identity data reside
on the original system; thus, no replication processes are necessary. Virtual
directories usually provide the most up-to-date identity information since
they point to the original source of the data.
23. C. Web access management (WAM) is a component of most IDM products
that allows for identity management of web-based activities to be integrated
and managed centrally.
24. A. If help-desk staff is spending too much time with password resetting, then
a technology should be implemented to reduce the amount of time paid
staff is spending on this task. The more tasks that can be automated through
technology, the less of the budget that has to be spent on staff. The following
are password management functionalities that are included in most IDM
products:
• Password Synchronization Reduces the complexity of keeping up with
different passwords for different systems.
• Self-Service Password Reset Reduces help-desk call volumes by allowing
users to reset their own passwords.
• Assisted Password Reset Reduces the resolution process for password
issues for the help desk. This may include authentication with other types
of authentication mechanisms (biometrics, tokens).

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

294
25. D. Federation identification allows for the company and its partners to share
customer authentication information. When a customer authenticates to a
partner web site, that authentication information can be passed to the retail
company, so when the customer visits the retail company’s web site, the
user has less amount of user profile information she has to submit and the
authentication steps she has to go through during the purchase process could
potentially be reduced. If the companies have a set trust model and share the
same or similar federated identity management software and settings, this
type of structure and functionality is possible.
26. A. The Service Provisioning Markup Language (SPML) allows company
interfaces to pass service requests, and the receiving company provisions
(allows) access to these services. Both the sending and receiving companies
need to be following XML standard, which will allow this type of
interoperability to take place. When using the eXtensible Access Control
Markup Language (XACML), application security policies can be shared
with other applications to ensure that both are following the same security
rules. The developers need to integrate both of these language types to allow
for their partner employees to interact with their inventory systems without
having to conduct a second authentication step. The use of the languages can
reduce the complexity of inventory control between the different companies.
27. A. Security event management software allows for network traffic to be viewed
holistically by gathering log data centrally and analyzing them. The intrusion
prevention system allows for proactive measures to be put into place to help
in stopping malicious traffic from entering the network. Behavior-based
intrusion detection can identify new types of attack (zero day) compared to
signature-based intrusion detection.
28. C. The Diameter protocol extends the RADIUS protocol to allow for various
types of authentication to take place with a variety of different technologies
(PPP, VoIP, Ethernet, etc.). It has extensive flexibility and allows for the
centralized administration of access control.
29. C. Spear-phishing is a targeted social engineering attack, which is what the
CIO’s secretary is most likely experiencing. War dialing is a brute force attack
against devices that use phone numbers, as in modems. If the modems can be
removed, the risk of war dialing attacks decreases.
30. A. A capability-based access control system means that the subject (user)
has to present something, which outlines what it can access. The item can
be a ticket, token, or key. A capability is tied to the subject for access control
purposes. A synchronous token is not being used, because the scenario
specifically states that a challenge\response mechanism is being used, which
indicates an asynchronous token.

Chapter 3: Access Control

295
31. B. Systems that provide mandatory access control (MAC) and multilevel
security are very specialized, require extensive administration, are expensive,
and reduce user functionality. Implementing these types of systems is not
the easiest approach out of the list. Since there is no budget for a PKI, digital
signatures cannot be used because they require a PKI. In most environments
access control lists (ACLs) are in place and can be modified to provide tighter
access control. ACLs are bound to objects and outline what operations specific
subjects can carry out on them.
32. B. SESAME is a single sign-on technology that is based upon public key
cryptography; thus, it requires a PKI. Kerberos is based upon symmetric
cryptography; thus, it does not need a PKI. RADIUS and TACACS+ are remote
centralized access control protocols.
33. B. A service oriented architecture will allow Harry’s team to create a centralized
web portal and offer the various services needed by internal and external
entities.
34. C. The most appropriate languages and protocols for the purpose laid out
in the scenario are Extensible Access Control Markup Language, Security
Assertion Markup Language, and Simple Object Access Protocol. Harry’s group
is not necessarily overseeing account provisioning, so the Service Provisioning
Markup Language is not necessary, and there is no language called “Security
Association Markup Language.”
35. D. Security Assertion Markup Language allows the exchange of authentication
and authorization data to be shared between security domains. It is one of the
most used approaches to allow for single sign-on capabilities within a webbased environment.

This page intentionally left blank

CHAPTER

Security Architecture
and Design
This chapter presents the following:
• System architecture
• Computer hardware architecture
• Operating system architecture
• System security architecture
• Trusted computing base and security mechanisms
• Information security software models
• Assurance evaluation criteria and ratings
• Certification and accreditation processes

Software flaws account for a majority of the compromises organizations around the
world experience. The common saying in the security field is that a network has a “hard,
crunchy outer shell and a soft, chewy middle,” which sums it up pretty well. The security industry has made amazing strides in its advancement of perimeter security devices
and technology (firewalls, intrusion detection systems [IDS], intrusion prevention systems [IPS], etc.), which provide the hard, crunchy outer shell. But the software that
carries out our critical processing still has a lot of vulnerabilities that are exploited on a
daily basis.
While software vendors do hold a lot of responsibility for the protection their products provide, nothing is as easy and as straightforward as it might seem. The computing
industry has been demanding extensive functionality, interoperability, portability, and
extensibility, and the vendors have been scrambling to provide these aspects of their
software and hardware products to their customers. It has only been in the last ten years
or so that the industry has been interested in or aware of the security requirements that
these products should also provide. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to develop software

297

4

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

298
that meets all of these demands: extensive functionality, interoperability, portability,
extensibility, and security. As the level of complexity within software increases, the ability to implement sound security decreases. While software developers can implement
more secure coding practices, one of the most critical aspects of secure software pertains
to its architecture. Security has to be baked into the fundamental core of the operating
systems that provide processing environments. Today’s operating systems were not architected with security as their main focus. It is very difficult to retrofit security into
operating systems that are already deployed throughout the world and that contain
millions of lines of code. And it is almost impossible to rearchitect them in a manner
that allows them to continue to provide all of their current functionality and for it all
to take place securely.
The industry does have “trusted” systems, which provide a higher level of security
than the average Windows, Linux, UNIX, and Macintosh systems. These systems have
been built from the “ground up” with security as one of their main goals, so their architectures are different from the systems we are more used to. The trusted systems are not
considered general-purpose systems: they have specific functions, are expensive, are
more difficult to manage, and are commonly used in government and military environments. The hope is that we can find some type of middle ground, where our software
can still provide all the bells and whistles we are used to and do it securely. This can
only be done if more people understand how to build software securely from the beginning, meaning at the architecture stage. The approach of integrating security at the architecture level would get us much closer to having secure environments, compared to
the “patch and pray” approach many organizations deal with today.

Computer Security
Computer security can be a slippery term because it means different things to different
people. Many aspects of a system can be secured, and security can happen at various
levels and to varying degrees. As stated in previous chapters, information security consists of the following main attributes:
• Availability Prevention of loss of, or loss of access to, data and resources
• Integrity Prevention of unauthorized modification of data and resources
• Confidentiality Prevention of unauthorized disclosure of data and resources
These main attributes branch off into more granular security attributes, such as
authenticity, accountability, nonrepudiation, and dependability. How does a company
know which of these it needs, to what degree they are needed, and whether the operating systems and applications they use actually provide these features and protection?
These questions get much more complex as one looks deeper into the questions and
products themselves. Organizations are not just concerned about e-mail messages being encrypted as they pass through the Internet. They are also concerned about the
confidential data stored in their databases, the security of their web farms that are connected directly to the Internet, the integrity of data-entry values going into applications

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

299
that process business-oriented information, external attackers bringing down servers
and affecting productivity, viruses spreading, the internal consistency of data warehouses, mobile device security, and much more.
These issues not only affect productivity and profitability, but also raise legal and
liability issues. Companies, and the management that runs them, can be held accountable if any one of the many issues previously mentioned goes wrong. So it is, or at least
it should be, very important for companies to know what security they need and how
to be properly assured that the protection is actually being provided by the products
they purchase.
Many of these security issues must be thought through before and during the design
and architectural phases for a product. Security is best if it is designed and built into the
foundation of operating systems and applications and not added as an afterthought.
Once security is integrated as an important part of the design, it has to be engineered,
implemented, tested, evaluated, and potentially certified and accredited. The security
that a product provides must be evaluated based upon the availability, integrity, and
confidentiality it claims to provide. What gets tricky is that organizations and individuals commonly do not fully understand what it actually takes for software to provide
these services in an effective manner. Of course a company wants a piece of software to
provide solid confidentiality, but does the person who is actually purchasing this software product know the correct questions to ask and what to look for? Does this person
ask the vendor about cryptographic key protection, encryption algorithms, and what
software development lifecycle model the vendor followed? Does the purchaser know
to ask about hashing algorithms, message authentication codes, fault tolerance, and
built-in redundancy options? The answer is “not usually.” Not only do most people not
fully understand what has to be in place to properly provide availability, integrity, and
confidentiality, it is very difficult to decipher what a piece of software is and is not carrying out properly without the necessary knowledge base.
Computer security was much simpler eight to ten years ago because software and
network environments were not as complex as they are today. It was easier to call yourself a security expert. With today’s software, much more is demanded of the security
expert, software vendor, and of the organizations purchasing and deploying software
products. Computer systems and the software that run on them are very complex today
and unless you are ready to pull up your “big-girl panties” and really understand how
this technology works, you will not be fully qualified to determine if the proper level of
security is truly in place.
This chapter covers system and software security from the ground up. It then goes
into how these systems are evaluated and rated by governments and other agencies, and
what these ratings actually mean. However, before we dive into these concepts, it is
important to understand what we mean by system-based architectures and the components that make them up.
NOTE Enterprise architecture was covered in Chapter 2. This chapter
solely focuses on system architecture. Secure software development and
vulnerabilities are covered in Chapter 10.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

300

System Architecture
In Chapter 2 we covered enterprise architecture frameworks and introduced their direct
relationship to system architecture. As explained in that chapter, an architecture is a tool
used to conceptually understand the structure and behavior of a complex entity through
different views. An architecture description is a formal description and representation of
a system, the components that make it up, the interactions and interdependencies between those components, and the relationship to the environment. An architecture
provides different views of the system, based upon the needs of the stakeholders of that
system.
Before digging into the meat of system architecture, we need to get our terminology
established. Although people use terms such as ”design,” “architecture,” and “software
development” interchangeably, we need to be more disciplined if we are really going to
learn this stuff correctly.
An architecture is at the highest level when it comes to the overall process of system
development. It is the conceptual constructs that must be first understood before getting to the design and development phases. It is at the architectural level that we are
answering questions such as “Why are we building this system?,” “Who is going to use
it and why?,” “How is it going to be used?,” “What environment will it work within?,”
“What type of security and protection is required?” and “What does it need to be able
to communicate with?” The answers to these types of questions outline the main goals
the system must achieve and they help us construct the system at an abstract level. This
abstract architecture provides the “big picture” goals, which are used to guide the following design and development phases.
In the system design phase we gather system requirement specifications and use
modeling languages to establish how the system will accomplish design goals, such as
required functionality, compatibility, fault tolerance, extensibility, security, usability,
and maintainability. The modeling language is commonly graphical so that we can visualize the system from a static structural view and a dynamic behavioral view. We can
understand what the components within the system need to accomplish individually
and how they work together to accomplish the larger established architectural goals.
It is at the design phase that we introduce security models such as Bell-LaPadula,
Biba, and Clark-Wilson, which are discussed later in this chapter. The models are used
to help construct the design of the system to meet the architectural goals.
Once the design of the system is defined, then we move into the development
phase. Individual programmers are assigned the pieces of the system they are responsible for, and the coding of the software begins and the creation of hardware starts. (A
system is made up of both software and hardware components.)
One last term we need to make sure is understood is “system.” When most people
hear this term, they think of an individual computer, but a system can be an individual
computer, an application, a select set of subsystems, a set of computers, or a set of networks made up of computers and applications. A system can be simplistic, as in a single-user operating system dedicated to a specific task, or as complex as an enterprise
network made up of heterogeneous multiuser systems and applications. So when we
look at system architectures, this could apply to very complex and distributed environ-

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

301
ments or very focused subsystems. We need to make sure we understand the type of
system that needs to be developed at the architecture stage.
There are evolving standards that outline the specifications of system architectures.
First IEEE came up with a standard (Standard 1471) that was called IEEE Recommended
Practice for Architectural Description of Software-Intensive Systems. This was adopted by
ISO and published in 2007 as ISO/IEC 42010:2007. As of this writing, this ISO standard
is being updated and will be called ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010, Systems and software engineering—
Architecture description. The standard is evolving and being improved upon. The goal is
to internationally standardize how system architecture takes place instead of product
developers just “winging it” and coming up with their own proprietary approaches. A
disciplined approach to system architecture allows for better quality, interoperability,
extensibility, portability, and security.
The ISO/IEC 42010:2007 follows the same terminology that was used in the formal
enterprise architecture frameworks we covered in Chapter 2:
• Architecture Fundamental organization of a system embodied in its
components, their relationships to each other and to the environment,
and the principles guiding its design and evolution.
• Architectural description (AD) Collection of document types to convey an
architecture in a formal manner.
• Stakeholder Individual, team, or organization (or classes thereof) with
interests in, or concerns relative to, a system.
• View Representation of a whole system from the perspective of a related set
of concerns.
• Viewpoint A specification of the conventions for constructing and using a view.
A template from which to develop individual views by establishing the purposes
and audience for a view and the techniques for its creation and analysis.
As an analogy, if I am going to build my own house I am first going to have to work
with an architect. He will ask me a bunch of questions to understand my overall “goals”
for the house, as in four bedrooms, three bathrooms, family room, game room, garage,
3,000 square feet, two-story ranch style, etc. Once he collects my goal statements, he
will create the different types of documentation (blueprint, specification documents)
that describe the architecture of the house in a formal manner (architecture description). The architect needs to make sure he meets several people’s (stakeholders) goals
for this house—not just mine. He needs to meet zoning requirements, construction
requirements, legal requirements, and my design requirements. Each stakeholder needs
to be presented with documentation and information (views) that map to their needs
and understanding of the house. One architecture schematic can be created for the
plumber, a different schematic can be created for the electrician, another one can be
created for the zoning officials, and one can be created for me. Each stakeholder needs
to have information about this house in terms that they understand and that map to
their specific concerns. If the architect gives me documentation about the electrical current requirements and location of where electrical grounding will take place, that does
not help me. I need to see the view of the architecture that directly relates to my needs.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

302
The same is true with a system. An architect needs to capture the goals that the system is supposed to accomplish for each stakeholder. One stakeholder is concerned
about the functionality of the system, another one is concerned about the performance,
another is concerned about interoperability, and yet another stakeholder is concerned
about security. The architect then creates documentation that formally describes the
architecture of the system for each of these stakeholders that will best address their
concerns and viewpoint. Each stakeholder will review their documentation to ensure
that the architect has not missed anything. After the architecture is approved, the software designers and developers are brought in to start building the system.
The relationship between these terms and concepts is illustrated in Figure 4-1.
The stakeholders for a system are the users, operators, maintainers, developers, and
suppliers. Each stakeholder has his own concern pertaining to the system, which can be
performance, functionality, security, maintainability, quality of service, usability, etc.
The system architecture needs to express system data pertaining to each concern of each
stakeholder, which is done through views. The views of the system can be logical, physical, structural, or behavioral.
The creation and use of system architect processes are evolving, becoming more
disciplined and standardized. In the past, system architectures were developed to meet

Figure 4-1 Formal architecture terms and relationships

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

303
the identified stakeholders’ concerns (functionality, interoperability, performance), but
a new concern has come into the limelight—security. So new systems need to meet not
just the old, but also the new concerns the stakeholders have. Security goals have to be
defined before the architecture of a system is created, and specific security views of the
system need to be created to help guide the design and development phases. When we
hear about security being “bolted on,” that means security concerns are addressed at
the development (programming) phase and not the architecture phase. When we state
that security needs to be “baked in,” this means that security has to be integrated at the
architecture phase.
NOTE While a system architecture addresses many stakeholder concerns,
we will focus on the concern of security since information security is the crux
of the CISSP exam.
CAUTION It is common for people in technology to not take higher-level,
somewhat theoretical concepts as in architecture seriously because they see
it is fluffy, non-practical, and they cannot always relate these concepts to what
they see in their daily activities. While knowing how to configure a server is
important, it is actually more important for more people in the industry to
understand how to actually build that server securely in the first place. Make
sure to understand security from a high-level theoretical perspective to a
practical hands-on perspective. If no one focuses on how to properly carry
out secure system architecture, we will always been doomed with insecure
systems.

Computer Architecture
Put the processor over there by the plant, the memory by the window, and the secondary
storage upstairs.
Computer architecture encompasses all of the parts of a computer system that are
necessary for it to function, including the operating system, memory chips, logic circuits, storage devices, input and output devices, security components, buses, and networking interfaces. The interrelationships and internal working of all of these parts can
be quite complex, and making them work together in a secure fashion consists of complicated methods and mechanisms. Thank goodness for the smart people who figured
this stuff out! Now it is up to us to learn how they did it and why.
The more you understand how these different pieces work and process data, the more
you will understand how vulnerabilities actually occur and how countermeasures work
to impede and hinder vulnerabilities from being introduced, found, and exploited.
NOTE This chapter interweaves the hardware and operating system
architectures and their components to show you how they work together.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

304
The Central Processing Unit
The CPU seems complex. How does it work?
Response: Black magic. It uses eye of bat, tongue of goat, and some transistors.
The central processing unit (CPU) is the brain of a computer. In the most general
description possible, it fetches instructions from memory and executes them. Although
a CPU is a piece of hardware, it has its own instruction set that is necessary to carry out
its tasks. Each CPU type has a specific architecture and set of instructions that it can
carry out. The operating system must be designed to work within this CPU architecture.
This is why one operating system may work on a Pentium Pro processor but not on an
AMD processor. The operating system needs to know how to “speak the language” of
the processor, which is the processor’s instruction set.
The chips within the CPU cover only a couple of square inches, but contain millions of transistors. All operations within the CPU are performed by electrical signals at
different voltages in different combinations, and each transistor holds this voltage,
which represents 0’s and 1’s to the operating system. The CPU contains registers that
point to memory locations that contain the next instructions to be executed and that
enable the CPU to keep status information of the data that need to be processed. A
register is a temporary storage location. Accessing memory to get information on what
instructions and data must be executed is a much slower process than accessing a register, which is a component of the CPU itself. So when the CPU is done with one task, it
asks the registers, “Okay, what do I have to do now?” And the registers hold the information that tells the CPU what its next job is.
The actual execution of the instructions is done by the arithmetic logic unit (ALU).
The ALU performs mathematical functions and logical operations on data. The ALU
can be thought of as the brain of the CPU, and the CPU as the brain of the computer.

Software holds its instructions and data in memory. When an action needs to take
place on the data, the instructions and data memory addresses are passed to the CPU
registers, as shown in Figure 4-2. When the control unit indicates that the CPU can
process them, the instructions and data memory addresses are passed to the CPU. The

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

305

Figure 4-2 Instruction and data addresses are passed to the CPU for processing.

CPU sends out requests to fetch these instructions and data from the provided addresses and then actual processing, number crunching, and data manipulation take
place. The results are sent back to the requesting process’s memory address.
An operating system and applications are really just made up of lines and lines of
instructions. These instructions contain empty variables, which are populated at run
time. The empty variables hold the actual data. There is a difference between instructions and data. The instructions have been written to carry out some type of functionality on the data. For example, let’s say you open a Calculator application. In reality, this
program is just lines of instructions that allow you to carry out addition, subtraction,
division, and other types of mathematical functions that will be executed on the data
you provide. So, you type in 3 + 5. The 3 and the 5 are the data values. Once you click
the = button, the Calculator program tells the CPU it needs to take the instructions on
how to carry out addition and apply these instructions to the two data values 3 and 5.
The ALU carries out this instruction and returns the result of 8 to the requesting program. This is when you see the value 8 in the Calculator’s field. To users, it seems as
though the Calculator program is doing all of this on its own, but it is incapable of this.
It depends upon the CPU and other components of the system to carry out this type of
activity.
The control unit manages and synchronizes the system while different applications’
code and operating system instructions are being executed. The control unit is the component that fetches the code, interprets the code, and oversees the execution of the different instruction sets. It determines what application instructions get processed and in

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

306
what priority and time slice. It controls when instructions are executed, and this execution enables applications to process data. The control unit does not actually process the
data. It is like the traffic cop telling vehicles when to stop and start again, as illustrated
in Figure 4-3. The CPU’s time has to be sliced up into individual units and assigned to
processes. It is this time slicing that fools the applications and users into thinking the
system is actually carrying out several different functions at one time. While the operating system can carry out several different functions at one time (multitasking), in reality, the CPU is executing the instructions in a serial fashion (one at a time).
A CPU has several different types of registers, containing information about the
instruction set and data that must be executed. General registers are used to hold variables and temporary results as the ALU works through its execution steps. The general
registers are like the ALU’s scratch pad, which it uses while working. Special registers
(dedicated registers) hold information such as the program counter, stack pointer, and
program status word (PSW). The program counter register contains the memory address
of the next instruction to be fetched. After that instruction is executed, the program
counter is updated with the memory address of the next instruction set to be processed.
It is similar to a boss-and-secretary relationship. The secretary keeps the boss on schedule and points him to the necessary tasks he must carry out. This allows the boss to just
concentrate on carrying out the tasks instead of having to worry about the “busy work”
being done in the background.

Figure 4-3 The control unit works as a traffic cop, indicating when instructions are sent to
the processor.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

307
The program status word (PSW) holds different condition bits. One of the bits indicates whether the CPU should be working in user mode (also called problem state) or
privileged mode (also called kernel or supervisor mode). The crux of this chapter is to
teach you how operating systems protect themselves. They need to protect themselves
from applications, software utilities, and user activities if they are going to provide a
stable and safe environment. One of these protection mechanisms is implemented
through the use of these different execution modes. When an application needs the
CPU to carry out its instructions, the CPU works in user mode. This mode has a lower
privilege level, and many of the CPU’s instructions and functions are not available to
the requesting application. The reason for the extra caution is that the developers of the
operating system and CPU do not know who developed the application or how it is
going to react, so the CPU works in a lower privilege mode when executing these types
of instructions. By analogy, if you are expecting visitors who are bringing their two-yearold boy, you move all of the breakables that someone under three feet tall can reach.
No one is ever sure what a two-year-old toddler is going to do, but it usually has to do
with breaking something. An operating system and CPU are not sure what applications
are going to attempt, which is why this code is executed in a lower privilege and critical
resources are out of reach of the application’s code.
If the PSW has a bit value that indicates the instructions to be executed should be
carried out in privileged mode, this means a trusted process (an operating system process) made the request and can have access to the functionality that is not available in
user mode. An example would be if the operating system needed to communicate with
a peripheral device. This is a privileged activity that applications cannot carry out. When
these types of instructions are passed to the CPU, the PSW is basically telling the CPU,
“The process that made this request is an all right guy. We can trust him. Go ahead and
carry out this task for him.”
Memory addresses of the instructions and data to be processed are held in registers
until needed by the CPU. The CPU is connected to an address bus, which is a hardwired
connection to the RAM chips in the system and the individual input/output (I/O) devices. Memory is cut up into sections that have individual addresses associated with
them. I/O devices (CD-ROM, USB device, printers, and so on) are also allocated specific unique addresses. If the CPU needs to access some data, either from memory or
from an I/O device, it sends a fetch request on the address bus. The fetch request contains the address of where the needed data are located. The circuitry associated with the
memory or I/O device recognizes the address the CPU sent down the address bus and
instructs the memory or device to read the requested data and put it on the data bus. So
the address bus is used by the CPU to indicate the location of the instructions to be
processed, and the memory or I/O device responds by sending the data that reside at
that memory location through the data bus. As an analogy, if I call you on the telephone and tell you the book I need you to mail me, this would be like a CPU sending
a fetch request down the address bus. You locate the book I requested and send it to me
in the mail, which would be similar to how an I/O device finds the requested data and
puts it on the data bus for the CPU to receive.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

308
Figure 4-4
Address and data
buses are separate
and have specific
functionality.

This process is illustrated in Figure 4-4.
Once the CPU is done with its computation, it needs to return the results to the
requesting program’s memory. So, the CPU sends the requesting program’s address
down the address bus and sends the new results down the data bus with the command
write. These new data are then written to the requesting program’s memory space.
Following our earlier example, once the CPU adds 3 and 5 and sends the new resulting
data to the Calculator program, you see the result as 8.
The address and data buses can be 8, 16, 32, or 64 bits wide. Most systems today use
a 64-bit address bus, which means the system can have a large address space (264). Systems can also have a 64-bit data bus, which means the system can move data in parallel
back and forth between memory, I/O devices, and the CPU of this size. (A 64-bit data
bus means the size of the chunks of data a CPU can request at a time is 64 bits.) But what
does this really mean and why does it matter? A two-lane highway can be a bottleneck if
a lot of vehicles need to travel over it. This is why highways are increased to four, six, and
eight lanes. As computer and software gets more complex and performance demands
increase, we need to get more instructions and data to the CPU faster so it can do its
work on these items and get them back to the requesting program as fast as possible. So
we need fatter pipes (buses) to move more stuff from one place to another place.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

309
Memory Stacks
Each process has its own stack, which is a data structure in memory that the process can read from and write to in a last in, first out (LIFO) fashion. Let’s say you
and I need to communicate through a stack. What I do is put all of the things I
need to say to you in a stack of papers. The first paper tells you how you can respond to me when you need to, which is called a return pointer. The next paper
has some instructions I need you to carry out. The next piece of paper has the data
you must use when carrying out these instructions. So, I write down on individual pieces of paper all that I need you to do for me and stack them up. When I am
done, I tell you to read my stack of papers. You take the first page off the stack and
carry out the request. Then you take the second page and carry out that request.
You continue to do this until you are at the bottom of the stack, which contains
my return pointer. You look at this return pointer (which is my memory address)
to know where to send the results of all the instructions I asked you to carry out.
This is how processes communicate to other processes and to the CPU. One process stacks up its information that it needs to communicate to the CPU. The CPU
has to keep track of where it is in the stack, which is the purpose of the stack
pointer. Once the first item on the stack is executed, then the stack pointer moves
down to tell the CPU where the next piece of data is located.
NOTE The traditional way of explaining how a stack works is to use
the analogy of stacking up trays in a cafeteria. When people are done
eating, they place their trays on a stack of other trays, and when the
cafeteria employees need to get the trays for cleaning, they take the last
tray placed on top and work down the stack. This analogy is used to
explain how a stack works in the mode of “last in, first out.” The process
being communicated to takes the last piece of data the requesting
process laid down from the top of the stack and works down the stack.

Multiprocessing
I have many brains, so I can work on many different tasks at once.
Some specialized computers have more than one CPU for increased performance.
An operating system must be developed specifically to be able to understand and work
with more than one processor. If the computer system is configured to work in symmetric
mode, this means the processors are handed work as needed, as shown with CPU 1 and
CPU 2 in Figure 4-5. It is like a load-balancing environment. When a process needs
instructions to be executed, a scheduler determines which processor is ready for more
work and sends it on. If a processor is going to be dedicated to a specific task or application, all other software would run on a different processor. In Figure 4-5, CPU 4 is

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

310

Figure 4-5 Symmetric mode and asymmetric mode of multiprocessing

dedicated to one application and its threads, while CPU 3 is used by the operating
system. When a processor is dedicated, as in this example, the system is working in
asymmetric mode. This usually means the computer has some type of time-sensitive application that needs its own personal processor. So, the system scheduler will send instructions from the time-sensitive application to CPU 4 and send all the other
instructions (from the operating system and other applications) to CPU 3.

Key Terms
• ISO/IEC 42010:2007 International standard that provides guidelines
on how to create and maintain system architectures.
• Central processing unit (CPU) A silicon component made up of
integrated chips with millions of transistors that carry out the execution
of instructions within a computer.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

311
• Arithmetic logic unit (ALU) Component of the CPU that carries
out logic and mathematical functions as they are laid out in the
programming code being processed by the CPU.
• Register Small, temporary memory storage units integrated and used
by the CPU during its processing functions.
• Control unit Part of the CPU that oversees the collection of
instructions and data from memory and how they are passed to the
processing components of the CPU.
• General registers Temporary memory location the CPU uses during
its processes of executing instructions. The ALU’s “scratch pad” it uses
while carrying out logic and math functions.
• Special registers Temporary memory location that holds critical
processing parameters. They hold values as in the program counter,
stack pointer, and program status word.
• Program counter Holds the memory address for the following
instructions the CPU needs to act upon.
• Stack Memory segment used by processes to communicate
instructions and data to each other.
• Program status word Condition variable that indicates to the CPU
what mode (kernel or user) instructions need to be carried out in.
• User mode (problem state) Protection mode that a CPU works
within when carrying out less trusted process instructions.
• Kernel mode (supervisory state, privilege mode) Mode that a CPU
works within when carrying out more trusted process instructions. The
process has access to more computer resources when working in kernel
versus user mode.
• Address bus Physical connections between processing components
and memory segments used to communicate the physical memory
addresses being used during processing procedures.
• Data bus Physical connections between processing components and
memory segments used to transmit data being used during processing
procedures.
• Symmetric mode multiprocessing When a computer has two or
more CPUs and each CPU is being used in a load-balancing method.
• Asymmetric mode multiprocessing When a computer has two or
more CPUs and one CPU is dedicated to a specific program while the
other CPUs carry out general processing procedures.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

312
Operating System Components
An operating system provides an environment for applications and users to work within. Every operating system is a complex beast, made up of various layers and modules
of functionality. It has the responsibility of managing the hardware components, memory management, I/O operations, file system, process management, and providing system services. We next look at each of these responsibilities that every operating system
type carries out. However, you must realize that whole books are written on just these
individual topics, so the discussion here will only scratch the surface.

Process Management
Well, just look at all of these processes squirming around like little worms. We need some real
organization here!
Operating systems, software utilities, and applications, in reality, are just lines and
lines of instructions. They are static lines of code that are brought to life when they are
initialized and put into memory. Applications work as individual units, called processes,
and the operating system also has several different processes carrying out various types
of functionality. A process is the set of instructions that is actually running. A program
is not considered a process until it is loaded into memory and activated by the operating system. When a process is created, the operating system assigns resources to it, such
as a memory segment, CPU time slot (interrupt), access to system application programming interfaces (APIs), and files to interact with. The collection of the instructions and
the assigned resources is referred to as a process. So the operating system gives a process
all the tools it needs and then loads the process into memory and it is off and running.
The operating system has many of its own processes, which are used to provide and
maintain the environment for applications and users to work within. Some examples
of the functionality that individual processes provide include displaying data onscreen,
spooling print jobs, and saving data to temporary files. Operating systems provide multiprogramming, which means that more than one program (or process) can be loaded
into memory at the same time. This is what allows you to run your antivirus software,
word processor, personal firewall, and e-mail client all at the same time. Each of these
applications runs as individual processes.
NOTE Many resources state that today’s operating systems provide
multiprogramming and multitasking. This is true, in that multiprogramming
just means more than one application can be loaded into memory at the
same time. But in reality, multiprogramming was replaced by multitasking,
which means more than one application can be in memory at the same
time and the operating system can deal with requests from these different
applications simultaneously. Multiprogramming is a legacy term.
Earlier operating systems wasted their most precious resource—CPU time. For example, when a word processor would request to open a file on a floppy drive, the CPU
would send the request to the floppy drive and then wait for the floppy drive to initialize, for the head to find the right track and sector, and finally for the floppy drive to

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

313
send the data via the data bus to the CPU for processing. To avoid this waste of CPU
time, multitasking was developed, which enabled the operating system to maintain different processes in their various execution states. Instead of sitting idle waiting for activity from one process, the CPU could execute instructions for other processes, thereby
speeding up the system as a whole.
NOTE If you are not old enough to remember floppy drives, they were like
our USB thumb drives we use today. They were just flatter, slower, and could
not hold as much data.
As an analogy, if you (CPU) put bread in a toaster (process) and just stand there
waiting for the toaster to finish its job, you are wasting time. On the other hand, if you
put bread in the toaster and then, while it’s toasting, fed the dog, made coffee, and
came up with a solution for world peace, you are being more productive and not wasting time. You are multitasking.
Operating systems started out as cooperative and then evolved into preemptive
multitasking. Cooperative multitasking, used in Windows 3.x and early Macintosh systems, required the processes to voluntarily release resources they were using. This was
not necessarily a stable environment, because if a programmer did not write his code
properly to release a resource when his application was done using it, the resource
would be committed indefinitely to his application and thus be unavailable to other
processes. With preemptive multitasking, used in Windows 9x and later versions and in
Unix systems, the operating system controls how long a process can use a resource. The
system can suspend a process that is using the CPU and allow another process access to
it through the use of time sharing. So, in operating systems that used cooperative multitasking, the processes had too much control over resource release, and when an application hung, it usually affected all the other applications and sometimes the
operating system itself. Operating systems that use preemptive multitasking run the
show, and one application does not negatively affect another application as easily.
Different operating system types work within different process models. For example, Unix and Linux systems allow their processes to create new children processes,
which is referred to as forking. Let’s say you are working within a shell of a Linux system.
That shell is the command interpreter and an interface that enables the user to interact
with the operating system. The shell runs as a process. When you type in a shell the
command cat file1 file2|grep stuff, you are telling the operating system to
concatenate (cat) the two files and then search (grep) for the lines that have the value
of “stuff” in them. When you press the ENTER key, the shell forks two children processes—one for the cat command and one for the grep command. Each of these children
processes takes on the characteristics of the parent process, but has its own memory
space, stack, and program counter values.
A process can be in a running state (CPU is executing its instructions and data),
ready state (waiting to send instructions to the CPU), or blocked state (waiting for input
data, such as keystrokes, from a user). These different states are illustrated in Figure 4-6.
When a process is blocked, it is waiting for some type of data to be sent to it. In the

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

314

Figure 4-6 Processes enter and exit different states.

preceding example of typing the command cat file1 file2|grep stuff, the
grep process cannot actually carry out its functionality of searching until the first process (cat) is done combining the two files. The grep process will put itself to sleep and
will be in the blocked state until the cat process is done and sends the grep process the
input it needs to work with.
NOTE Not all operating systems create and work in the process hierarchy
like Unix and Linux systems. Windows systems do not fork new children
processes, but instead create new threads that work within the same context
of the parent process.
Is it really necessary to understand this stuff all the way down to the process level?
Well, this is where everything actually takes place. All software works in “units” of processes. If you do not understand how processes work, you cannot understand how
software works. If you do not understand how software works, you cannot know if it is
working securely. So yes, you need to know this stuff at this level. Let’s keep going.
The operating system is responsible for creating new processes, assigning them resources, synchronizing their communication, and making sure nothing insecure is taking place. The operating system keeps a process table, which has one entry per process.
The table contains each individual process’s state, stack pointer, memory allocation,
program counter, and status of open files in use. The reason the operating system documents all of this status information is that the CPU needs all of it loaded into its registers when it needs to interact with, for example, process 1. When process 1’s CPU time
slice is over, all of the current status information on process 1 is stored in the process
table so that when its time slice is open again, all of this status information can be put
back into the CPU registers. So, when it is process 2’s time with the CPU, its status information is transferred from the process table to the CPU registers, and transferred
back again when the time slice is over. These steps are shown in Figure 4-7.
How does a process know when it can communicate with the CPU? This is taken
care of by using interrupts. An operating system fools us, and applications, into thinking it and the CPU are carrying out all tasks (operating system, applications, memory,

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

315

Figure 4-7 A process table contains process status data that the CPU requires.

I/O, and user activities) simultaneously. In fact, this is impossible. Most CPUs can do
only one thing at a time. So the system has hardware and software interrupts. When a
device needs to communicate with the CPU, it has to wait for its interrupt to be called
upon. The same thing happens in software. Each process has an interrupt assigned to it.
It is like pulling a number at a customer service department in a store. You can’t go up
to the counter until your number has been called out.
When a process is interacting with the CPU and an interrupt takes place (another
process has requested access to the CPU), the current process’s information is stored in
the process table, and the next process gets its time to interact with the CPU.
NOTE Some critical processes cannot afford to have their functionality
interrupted by another process. The operating system is responsible for
setting the priorities for the different processes. When one process needs to
interrupt another process, the operating system compares the priority levels
of the two processes to determine if this interruption should be allowed.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

316
There are two categories of interrupts: maskable and nonmaskable. A maskable
interrupt is assigned to an event that may not be overly important and the programmer
can indicate that if that interrupt calls, the program does not stop what it is doing. This
means the interrupt is ignored. Nonmaskable interrupts can never be overridden by an
application because the event that has this type of interrupt assigned to it is critical. As
an example, the reset button would be assigned a nonmaskable interrupt. This means
that when this button is pushed, the CPU carries out its instructions right away.
As an analogy, a boss can tell her administrative assistant she is not going to take any
calls unless the Pope or Elvis phones. This means all other people will be ignored or
masked (maskable interrupt), but the Pope and Elvis will not be ignored (nonmaskable
interrupt). This is probably a good policy. You should always accept calls from either the
Pope or Elvis. Just remember not to use any bad words when talking to the Pope.
The watchdog timer is an example of a critical process that must always do its thing.
This process will reset the system with a warm boot if the operating system hangs and
cannot recover itself. For example, if there is a memory management problem and the
operating system hangs, the watchdog timer will reset the system. This is one mechanism that ensures the software provides more of a stable environment.

Thread Management
What are all of these hair-like things hanging off of my processes?
Response: Threads.
As described earlier, a process is a program in memory. More precisely, a process is
the program’s instructions and all the resources assigned to the process by the operating
system. It is just easier to group all of these instructions and resources together and
control them as one entity, which is a process. When a process needs to send something
to the CPU for processing, it generates a thread. A thread is made up of an individual
instruction set and the data that must be worked on by the CPU.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

317
Most applications have several different functions. Word processing applications
can open files, save files, open other programs (such as an e-mail client), and print
documents. Each one of these functions requires a thread (instruction set) to be dynamically generated. So, for example, if Tom chooses to print his document, the word
processing process generates a thread that contains the instructions of how this document should be printed (font, colors, text, margins, and so on). If he chooses to send a
document via e-mail through this program, another thread is created that tells the email client to open and what file needs to be sent. Threads are dynamically created and
destroyed as needed. Once Tom is done printing his document, the thread that was
generated for this functionality is broken down.
A program that has been developed to carry out several different tasks at one time
(display, print, interact with other programs) is capable of running several different
threads simultaneously. An application with this capability is referred to as a multithreaded application.
Each thread shares the same resources of the process that created it. So, all the
threads created by a word processing application work in the same memory space and
have access to all the same files and system resources. And how is this related to security? Software security ultimately comes down to what threads and processes are doing.
If they are behaving properly, things work as planned and there are no issues to be
concerned about. But if a thread misbehaves and it is working in a privileged mode,
then it can carry out malicious activities that affect critical resources of the system. Attackers commonly inject code into a running process to carry out some type of compromise. Let’s think this through. When an operating system is preparing to load a process
into memory it goes through a type of criteria checklist to make sure the process is secure and will not negatively affect the system. Once the process passes this security
check the process is loaded into memory and is assigned a specific operation mode
(user or privileged). An attacker “injects” instructions into this running process, which
means the process is his vehicle for destruction. Since the process has already gone
through a security check before it was loaded into memory, it is trusted and has access
to system resources. If an attacker can inject malicious instructions into this process,
this trusted process carries out the attacker’s demands. These demands could be to collect data as the user types it in on her keyboard, steal passwords, send out malware, etc.
If the process is running at a privileged mode, the attacker can carry out more damage
because more critical system resources are available to him through this running process. When she creates her product, a software developer needs to make sure that running processes will not accept unqualified instructions and allow for these types of
compromises. Processes should only accept instructions for an approved entity and the
instructions that it accepts should be validated before execution. It is like “stranger
danger” with children. We teach our children to not take candy from a stranger and in
turn we need to make sure our software processes are not accepting improper instructions from an unknown source.

Process Scheduling
Scheduling and synchronizing various processes and their activities is part of process
management, which is a responsibility of the operating system. Several components
need to be considered during the development of an operating system, which will

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

318
dictate how process scheduling will take place. A scheduling policy is created to govern
how threads will interact with other threads. Different operating systems can use different schedulers, which are basically algorithms that control the timesharing of the CPU.
As stated earlier, the different processes are assigned different priority levels (interrupts)
that dictate which processes overrule other processes when CPU time allocation is required. The operating system creates and deletes processes as needed, and oversees
them changing state (ready, blocked, running). The operating system is also responsible for controlling deadlocks between processes attempting to use the same resources.
If a process scheduler is not built properly, an attacker could manipulate it. The attacker could ensure that certain processes do not get access to system resources (creating a denial of service attack) or that a malicious process has its privileges escalated
(allowing for extensive damage). An operating system needs to be built in a secure
manner to ensure that an attacker cannot slip in and take over control of the system’s
processes.
When a process makes a request for a resource (memory allocation, printer, secondary storage devices, disk space, and so on), the operating system creates certain data
structures and dedicates the necessary processes for the activity to be completed. Once
the action takes place (a document is printed, a file is saved, or data are retrieved from
the drive), the process needs to tear down these built structures and release the resources back to the resource pool so they are available for other processes. If this does not
happen properly, the system may run out of critical resources—as in memory. Attackers
have identified programming errors in operating systems that allow them to starve the
system of its own memory. This means the attackers exploit a software vulnerability
that ensures that processes do not properly release their memory resources. Memory is
continually committed and not released and the system is depleted of this resource
until it can no longer function. This is another example of a denial of service attack.
Another situation to be concerned about is a software deadlock. One example of a
deadlock situation is when process A commits resource 1 and needs to use resource 2
to properly complete its task, but process B has committed resource 2 and needs resource 1 to finish its job. Both processes are in deadlock because they do not have the
resources they need to finish the function they are trying to carry out. This situation
does not take place as often as it used to, as a result of better programming. Also, operating systems now have the intelligence to detect this activity and either release committed resources or control the allocation of resources so they are properly shared
between processes.
Operating systems have different methods of dealing with resource requests and
releases and solving deadlock situations. In some systems, if a requested resource is
unavailable for a certain period of time, the operating system kills the process that
is “holding on to” that resource. This action releases the resource from the process that
had committed it and restarts the process so it is “clean” and available for use by other
applications. Other operating systems might require a program to request all the resources it needs before it actually starts executing instructions, or require a program to
release its currently committed resources before it may acquire more.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

319
Key Terms
• Process Program loaded in memory within an operating system.
• Multiprogramming Interleaved execution of more than one program
(process) or task by a single operating system.
• Multitasking Simultaneous execution of more than one program
(process) or task by a single operating system.
• Cooperative multitasking Multitasking scheduling scheme used by
older operating systems to allow for computer resource time slicing.
Processes had too much control over resources, which would allow for
the programs or systems to “hang.”
• Preemptive multitasking Multitasking scheduling scheme used by
operating systems to allow for computer resource time slicing. Used
in newer, more stable operating systems.
• Process states (ready, running, blocked) Processes can be in various
activity levels. Ready = waiting for input. Running = instructions being
executed by CPU. Blocked = process is “suspended.”
• Interrupts Values assigned to computer components (hardware and
software) to allow for efficient computer resource time slicing.
• Maskable interrupt Interrupt value assigned to a noncritical
operating system activity.
• Nonmaskable interrupt Interrupt value assigned to a critical
operating system activity.
• Thread Instruction set generated by a process when it has a specific
activity that needs to be carried out by an operating system. When the
activity is finished, the thread is destroyed.
• Multithreading Applications that can carry out multiple activities
simultaneously by generating different instruction sets (threads).
• Software deadlock Two processes cannot complete their activities
because they are both waiting for system resources to be released.

Process Activity
Process 1, go into your room and play with your toys. Process 2, go into your room and play with
your toys. No intermingling and no fighting!
Computers can run different applications and processes at the same time. The processes have to share resources and play nice with each other to ensure a stable and safe
computing environment that maintains its integrity. Some memory, data files, and

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

320
variables are actually shared between different processes. It is critical that more than
one process does not attempt to read and write to these items at the same time. The
operating system is the master program that prevents this type of action from taking
place and ensures that programs do not corrupt each other’s data held in memory. The
operating system works with the CPU to provide time slicing through the use of interrupts to ensure that processes are provided with adequate access to the CPU. This also
makes certain that critical system functions are not negatively affected by rogue applications.
To protect processes from each other, operating systems commonly have functionality that implements process isolation. Process isolation is necessary to ensure that
processes do not “step on each other’s toes,” communicate in an insecure manner, or
negatively affect each other’s productivity. Older operating systems did not enforce process isolation as well as systems do today. This is why in earlier operating systems, when
one of your programs hung, all other programs, and sometimes the operating system
itself, hung. With process isolation, if one process hangs for some reason, it will not
affect the other software running. (Process isolation is required for preemptive multitasking.) Different methods can be used to enforce process isolation:
• Encapsulation of objects
• Time multiplexing of shared resources
• Naming distinctions
• Virtual memory mapping
When a process is encapsulated, no other process understands or interacts with its
internal programming code. When process A needs to communicate with process B,
process A just needs to know how to communicate with process B’s interface. An interface defines how communication must take place between two processes. As an analogy, think back to how you had to communicate with your third-grade teacher. You had
to call her Mrs. So-and-So, say please and thank you, and speak respectfully to get
whatever it was you needed. The same thing is true for software components that need
to communicate with each other. They must know how to communicate properly with
each other’s interfaces. The interfaces dictate the type of requests a process will accept
and the type of output that will be provided. So, two processes can communicate with
each other, even if they are written in different programming languages, as long as they
know how to communicate with each other’s interface. Encapsulation provides data
hiding, which means that outside software components will not know how a process
works and will not be able to manipulate the process’s internal code. This is an integrity mechanism and enforces modularity in programming code.
If a process is not isolated properly through encapsulation, this means its interface
is accepting potentially malicious instructions. The interface is like a membrane filter
that our cells within our bodies use. Our cells filter fluid and molecules that are attempting to enter them. If some type of toxin slips by the filter, we can get sick because
the toxin has entered the worker bees of our bodies—cells. Processes are the worker
bees of our software. If they accept malicious instructions, our systems can get sick.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

321
Time multiplexing was already discussed, although we did not use this term. Time
multiplexing is a technology that allows processes to use the same resources. As stated
earlier, a CPU must be shared among many processes. Although it seems as though all
applications are running (executing their instructions) simultaneously, the operating
system is splitting up time shares between each process. Multiplexing means there are
several data sources and the individual data pieces are piped into one communication
channel. In this instance, the operating system is coordinating the different requests
from the different processes and piping them through the one shared CPU. An operating system must provide proper time multiplexing (resource sharing) to ensure a stable
working environment exists for software and users.
NOTE Today’s CPUs have multiple cores, meaning that they have multiple
processors. This basically means that there are several smaller CPUs
(processors) integrated into one larger CPU. So in reality the different
processors on the CPU can execute instruction code simultaneously, making
the computer overall much faster. The operating system has to multiplex
process requests and “feed” them into the individual processors for
instruction execution.
While time multiplexing and multitasking is a performance requirement of our
systems today and is truly better than sliced bread, it introduces a lot of complexity to
our systems. We are forcing our operating systems to not only do more things faster, we
are forcing them to do all of these things simultaneously. As the complexity of our systems increases, the potential of truly securing them decreases. There is an inverse relationship between complexity and security: as one goes up the other one usually goes
down. But this fact does not necessarily predict doom and gloom; what it means is that
software architecture and development has to be done in a more disciplined manner.
Naming distinctions just means that the different processes have their own name or
identification value. Processes are usually assigned process identification (PID) values,
which the operating system and other processes use to call upon them. If each process
is isolated, that means each process has its own unique PID value. This is just another
way to enforce process isolation.
Virtual address memory mapping is different from the physical addresses of memory.
An application is written such that it basically “thinks” it is the only program running
within an operating system. When an application needs memory to work with, it tells
the operating system’s memory manager how much memory it needs. The operating
system carves out that amount of memory and assigns it to the requesting application.
The application uses its own address scheme, which usually starts at 0, but in reality, the
application does not work in the physical address space it thinks it is working in. Rather,
it works in the address space the memory manager assigns to it. The physical memory
is the RAM chips in the system. The operating system chops up this memory and assigns portions of it to the requesting processes. Once the process is assigned its own
memory space, it can address this portion however it is written to do so. Virtual address
mapping allows the different processes to have their own memory space; the memory

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

322
manager ensures no processes improperly interact with another process’s memory. This
provides integrity and confidentiality for the individual processes and their data and an
overall stable processing environment for the operating system.
If an operating system has a flaw in the programming code that controls memory
mapping, an attacker could manipulate this function. Since everything within an operating system actually has to operate in memory to work, the ability to manipulate
memory addressing can be very dangerous.

Memory Management
To provide a safe and stable environment, an operating system must exercise proper
memory management—one of its most important tasks. After all, everything happens
in memory.
The goals of memory management are to
• Provide an abstraction level for programmers
• Maximize performance with the limited amount of memory available
• Protect the operating system and applications loaded into memory
Abstraction means that the details of something are hidden. Developers of applications do not know the amount or type of memory that will be available in each and
every system their code will be loaded on. If a developer had to be concerned with this
type of detail, then her application would be able to work only on the one system that
maps to all of her specifications. To allow for portability, the memory manager hides all
of the memory issues and just provides the application with a memory segment. The
application is able to run without having to know all the hairy details of the operating
system and hardware it is running on.
Every computer has a memory hierarchy. Certain small amounts of memory are very
fast and expensive (registers,
cache), while larger amounts
are slower and less expensive
(RAM, hard drive). The portion of the operating system
that keeps track of how these
different types of memory
are used is lovingly called
the memory manager. Its jobs
are to allocate and deallocate different memory segments, enforce access control
to ensure processes are interacting only with their own
memory segments, and swap
memory contents from RAM
to the hard drive.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

323
The memory manager has five basic responsibilities:
Relocation
• Swap contents from RAM to the hard drive as needed (explained later in the
“Virtual Memory” section of this chapter)
• Provide pointers for applications if their instructions and memory segment
have been moved to a different location in main memory
Protection
• Limit processes to interact only with the memory segments assigned to them
• Provide access control to memory segments
Sharing
• Use complex controls to ensure integrity and confidentiality when processes
need to use the same shared memory segments
• Allow many users with different levels of access to interact with the same
application running in one memory segment
Logical organization
• Segment all memory types and provide an addressing scheme for each at an
abstraction level
• Allow for the sharing of specific software modules, such as dynamic link
library (DLL) procedures
Physical organization
• Segment the physical memory space for application and operating system
processes
NOTE A dynamic link library (DLL) is a set of functions that applications
can call upon to carry out different types of procedures. For example, the
Windows operating system has a crypt32.dll that is used by the operating
system and applications for cryptographic functions. Windows has a set of
DLLs, which is just a library of functions to be called upon and crypt32.dll
is just one example.
How can an operating system make sure a process only interacts with its memory
segment? When a process creates a thread, because it needs some instructions and data
processed, the CPU uses two registers. A base register contains the beginning address
that was assigned to the process, and a limit register contains the ending address, as illustrated in Figure 4-8. The thread contains an address of where the instruction and
data reside that need to be processed. The CPU compares this address to the base and
limit registers to make sure the thread is not trying to access a memory segment outside

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

324
Figure 4-8
Base and limit
registers are used
to contain a process
in its own memory
segment.

of its bounds. So, the base register makes it impossible for a thread to reference a memory address below its allocated memory segment, and the limit register makes it impossible for a thread to reference a memory address above this segment.
If an operating system has a memory manager that does not enforce the memory
limits properly, an attacker can manipulate its functionality and use it against the system. There have been several instances over the years where attackers would do just this
and bypass these types of controls. Architects and developers of operating systems have
to think through these types of weaknesses and attack types to ensure that the system
properly protects itself.

Memory Protection Issues
• Every address reference is validated for protection.
• Two or more processes can share access to the same segment with
potentially different access rights.
• Different instruction and data types can be assigned different levels of
protection.
• Processes cannot generate an unpermitted address or gain access to an
unpermitted segment.
All of these issues make it more difficult for memory management to be
carried out properly in a constantly changing and complex system.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

325
Memory Types
Memory management is critical, but what types of memory actually have to be managed?
As stated previously, the operating system instructions, applications, and data are
held in memory, but so are the basic input/output system (BIOS), device controller
instructions, and firmware. They do not all reside in the same memory location or even
the same type of memory. The different types of memory, what they are used for, and
how each is accessed can get a bit confusing because the CPU deals with several different types for different reasons.
The following sections outline the different types of memory that can be used within computer systems.

Random Access Memory
Random access memory (RAM) is a type of temporary storage facility where data and
program instructions can temporarily be held and altered. It is used for read/write activities by the operating system and applications. It is described as volatile because if
the computer’s power supply is terminated, then all information within this type of
memory is lost.
RAM is an integrated circuit made up of millions of transistors and capacitors. The
capacitor is where the actual charge is stored, which represents a 1 or 0 to the system.
The transistor acts like a gate or a switch. A capacitor that is storing a binary value of 1
has several electrons stored in it, which have a negative charge, whereas a capacitor that
is storing a 0 value is empty. When the operating system writes over a 1 bit with a 0 bit,
in reality, it is just emptying out the electrons from that specific capacitor.
One problem is that these capacitors cannot keep their charge for long. Therefore, a
memory controller has to “recharge” the values in the capacitors, which just means it
continually reads and writes the same values to the capacitors. If the memory controller
does not “refresh” the value of 1, the capacitor will start losing its electrons and become
a 0 or a corrupted value. This explains how dynamic RAM (DRAM) works. The data being held in the RAM memory cells must be continually and dynamically refreshed so
your bits do not magically disappear. This activity of constantly refreshing takes time,
which is why DRAM is slower than static RAM.
NOTE When we are dealing with memory activities, we use a time metric
of nanoseconds (ns), which is a billionth of a second. So if you look at your
RAM chip and it states 70 ns, this means it takes 70 nanoseconds to read and
refresh each memory cell.
Static RAM (SRAM) does not require this continuous-refreshing nonsense; it uses a
different technology, by holding bits in its memory cells without the use of capacitors,
but it does require more transistors than DRAM. Since SRAM does not need to be refreshed, it is faster than DRAM, but because SRAM requires more transistors, it takes up
more space on the RAM chip. Manufacturers cannot fit as many SRAM memory cells on
a memory chip as they can DRAM memory cells, which is why SRAM is more expensive.
So, DRAM is cheaper and slower, and SRAM is more expensive and faster. It always

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

326
seems to go that way. SRAM has been used in cache, and DRAM is commonly used in
RAM chips.
Because life is not confusing enough, we have many other types of RAM. The main
reason for the continual evolution of RAM types is that it directly affects the speed of
the computer itself. Many people mistakenly think that just because you have a fast
processor, your computer will be fast. However, memory type and size and bus sizes are
also critical components. Think of memory as pieces of paper used by the system to
hold instructions. If the system had small pieces of papers (small amount of memory)
to read and write from, it would spend most of its time looking for these pieces and
lining them up properly. When a computer spends more time moving data from one
small portion of memory to another than actually processing the data, it is referred
to as thrashing. This causes the system to crawl in speed and your frustration level to
increase.
The size of the data bus also makes a difference in system speed. You can think of a
data bus as a highway that connects different portions of the computer. If a ton of data
must go from memory to the CPU and can only travel over a 4-lane highway, compared
to a 64-lane highway, there will be delays in processing.
Increased addressing space also increases system performance. A system that uses a
64-bit addressing scheme can put more instructions and data on a data bus at one time
compared to a system that uses a 32-bit addressing scheme. So a larger addressing
scheme allows more stuff to be moved around and processed and a larger bus size provides the highway to move this stuff around quickly and efficiently.
So the processor, memory type and amount, memory addressing, and bus speeds
are critical components to system performance.
The following are additional types of RAM you should be familiar with:
• Synchronous DRAM (SDRAM) Synchronizes itself with the system’s CPU
and synchronizes signal input and output on the RAM chip. It coordinates its
activities with the CPU clock so the timing of the CPU and the timing of the
memory activities are synchronized. This increases the speed of transmitting
and executing data.
• Extended data out DRAM (EDO DRAM) This is faster than DRAM because
DRAM can access only one block of data at a time, whereas EDO DRAM can
capture the next block of data while the first block is being sent to the CPU for
processing. It has a type of “look ahead” feature that speeds up memory access.
• Burst EDO DRAM (BEDO DRAM) Works like (and builds upon) EDO
DRAM in that it can transmit data to the CPU as it carries out a read option,
but it can send more data at once (burst). It reads and sends up to four
memory addresses in a small number of clock cycles.
• Double data rate SDRAM (DDR SDRAM) Carries out read operations on the
rising and falling cycles of a clock pulse. So instead of carrying out one operation
per clock cycle, it carries out two and thus can deliver twice the throughput of
SDRAM. Basically, it doubles the speed of memory activities, when compared
to SDRAM, with a smaller number of clock cycles. Pretty groovy.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

327
Hardware Segmentation
Systems of a higher trust level may need to implement hardware segmentation of
the memory used by different processes. This means memory is separated physically instead of just logically. This adds another layer of protection to ensure that
a lower-privileged process does not access and modify a higher-level process’s
memory space.

NOTE These different RAM types require different controller chips to
interface with them; therefore, the motherboards that these memory types
are used on often are very specific in nature.
Well, that’s enough about RAM for now. Let’s look at other types of memory that are
used in basically every computer in the world.

Read-Only Memory
Read-only memory (ROM) is a nonvolatile memory type, meaning that when a computer’s power is turned off, the data are still held within the memory chips. When data
are written into ROM memory chips, the data cannot be altered. Individual ROM chips
are manufactured with the stored program or routines designed into it. The software
that is stored within ROM is called firmware.
Programmable read-only memory (PROM) is a form of ROM that can be modified
after it has been manufactured. PROM can be programmed only one time because the
voltage that is used to write bits into the memory cells actually burns out the fuses that
connect the individual memory cells. The instructions are “burned into” PROM using
a specialized PROM programmer device.
Erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM) can be erased, modified, and
upgraded. EPROM holds data that can be electrically erased or written to. To erase the
data on the memory chip, you need your handy-dandy ultraviolet (UV) light device
that provides just the right level of energy. The EPROM chip has a quartz window,
which is where you point the UV light. Although playing with UV light devices can be
fun for the whole family, we have moved on to another type of ROM technology that
does not require this type of activity.
To erase an EPROM chip, you must remove the chip from the computer and wave
your magic UV wand, which erases all of the data on the chip—not just portions of it.
So someone invented electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM),
and we all put our UV light wands away for good.
EEPROM is similar to EPROM, but its data storage can be erased and modified electrically by onboard programming circuitry and signals. This activity erases only one
byte at a time, which is slow. And because we are an impatient society, yet another
technology was developed that is very similar, but works more quickly.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

328
Flash memory is a special type of memory that is used in digital cameras, BIOS
chips, memory cards, and video game consoles. It is a solid-state technology, meaning
it does not have moving parts and is used more as a type of hard drive than memory.
Flash memory basically moves around different levels of voltages to indicate that a
1 or 0 must be held in a specific address. It acts as a ROM technology rather than a RAM
technology. (For example, you do not lose pictures stored on your memory stick in your
digital camera just because your camera loses power. RAM is volatile and ROM is nonvolatile.) When Flash memory needs to be erased and turned back to its original state,
a program initiates the internal circuits to apply an electric field. The erasing function
takes place in blocks or on the entire chip instead of erasing one byte at a time.
Flash memory is used as a small disk drive in most implementations. Its benefits
over a regular hard drive are that it is smaller, faster, and lighter. So let’s deploy Flash
memory everywhere and replace our hard drives! Maybe one day. Today it is relatively
expensive compared to regular hard drives.

Cache Memory
I am going to need this later, so I will just stick it into cache for now.
Cache memory is a type of memory used for high-speed writing and reading activities. When the system assumes (through its programmatic logic) that it will need to
access specific information many times throughout its processing activities, it will store
the information in cache memory so it is easily and quickly accessible. Data in cache
can be accessed much more quickly than data stored in other memory types. Therefore,
any information needed by the CPU very quickly, and very often, is usually stored in
cache memory, thereby improving the overall speed of the computer system.
An analogy is how the brain stores information it uses often. If one of Marge’s primary functions at her job is to order parts, which requires telling vendors the company’s address, Marge stores this address information in a portion of her brain from which
she can easily and quickly access it. This information is held in a type of cache. If Marge
was asked to recall her third-grade teacher’s name, this information would not necessarily be held in cache memory, but in a more long-term storage facility within her
noggin. The long-term storage within her brain is comparable to a system’s hard drive.
It takes more time to track down and return information from a hard drive than from
specialized cache memory.
NOTE Different motherboards have different types of cache. Level 1 (L1) is
faster than Level 2 (L2), and L2 is faster than L3. Some processors and device
controllers have cache memory built into them. L1 and L2 are usually built
into the processors and the controllers themselves.

Memory Mapping
Okay, here is your memory, here is my memory, and here is Bob’s memory. No one use each
other’s memory!
Because there are different types of memory holding different types of data, a computer system does not want to let every user, process, and application access all types of
memory anytime they want to. Access to memory needs to be controlled to ensure data

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

329
do not get corrupted and that sensitive information is not available to unauthorized
processes. This type of control takes place through memory mapping and addressing.
The CPU is one of the most trusted components within a system, and can access
memory directly. It uses physical addresses instead of pointers (logical addresses) to
memory segments. The CPU has physical wires connecting it to the memory chips
within the computer. Because physical wires connect the two types of components,
physical addresses are used to represent the intersection between the wires and the
transistors on a memory chip. Software does not use physical addresses; instead, it employs logical memory addresses. Accessing memory indirectly provides an access control layer between the software and the memory, which is done for protection and
efficiency. Figure 4-9 illustrates how the CPU can access memory directly using physical
addresses and how software must use memory indirectly through a memory mapper.
Let’s look at an analogy. You would like to talk to Mr. Marshall about possibly buying some acreage in Iowa. You don’t know Mr. Marshall personally, and you do not
want to give out your physical address and have him show up at your doorstep. Instead,
you would like to use a more abstract and controlled way of communicating, so you
give Mr. Marshall your phone number so you can talk to him about the land and determine whether you want to meet him in person. The same type of thing happens in
computers. When a computer runs software, it does not want to expose itself unnecessarily to software written by good and bad programmers alike. Operating systems enable software to access memory indirectly by using index tables and pointers, instead of

Figure 4-9 The CPU and applications access memory differently.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

330
giving them the right to access the memory directly. This is one way the computer system protects itself. If an operating system has a programming flaw that allows an attacker to directly access memory through physical addresses, there is no memory
manager involved to control how memory is being used.
When a program attempts to access memory, its access rights are verified and then
instructions and commands are carried out in a way to ensure that badly written code
does not affect other programs or the system itself. Applications, and their processes,
can only access the memory allocated to them, as shown in Figure 4-10. This type of
memory architecture provides protection and efficiency.
The physical memory addresses that the CPU uses are called absolute addresses. The
indexed memory addresses that software uses are referred to as logical addresses. And
relative addresses are based on a known address with an offset value applied. As explained previously, an application does not “know” it is sharing memory with other
applications. When the program needs a memory segment to work with, it tells the
memory manager how much memory it needs. The memory manager allocates this
much physical memory, which could have the physical addressing of 34,000 to 39,000,
for example. But the application is not written to call upon addresses in this numbering
scheme. It is most likely developed to call upon addresses starting with 0 and extending
to, let’s say, 5000. So the memory manager allows the application to use its own addressing scheme—the logical addresses. When the application makes a call to one of
these “phantom” logical addresses, the memory manager must map this address to the

Figure 4-10 Applications, and the processes they use, access their own memory segments only.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

331
actual physical address. (It’s like two people using their own naming scheme. When
Bob asks Diane for a ball, Diane knows he really means a stapler. Don’t judge Bob and
Diane; it works for them.)
The mapping process is illustrated in Figure 4-11. When a thread indicates the instruction needs to be processed, it provides a logical address. The memory manager
maps the logical address to the physical address, so the CPU knows where the instruction is located. The thread will actually be using a relative address, because the application
uses the address space of 0 to 5000. When the thread indicates it needs the instruction
at the memory address 3400 to be executed, the memory manager has to work from its
mapping of logical address 0 to the actual physical address and then figure out the
physical address for the logical address 3400. So the logical address 3400 is relative to
the starting address 0.

Figure 4-11 The CPU uses absolute addresses, and software uses logical addresses.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

332
As an analogy, if I know you use a different number system than everyone else in the
world, and you tell me that you need 14 cookies, I would need to know where to start
in your number scheme to figure out how many cookies to really give you. So, if you
inform me that in “your world” your numbering scheme starts at 5, I would map 5 to
0 and know that the offset is a value of 5. So when you tell me you want 14 cookies (the
relative number), I take the offset value into consideration. I know that you start at the
value 5, so I map your logical address of 14 to the physical number of 9. (But I would
not give you nine cookies, because you made me work too hard to figure all of this out.
I will just eat them myself.)
So the application is working in its “own world” using its “own addresses,” and the
memory manager has to map these values to reality, which means the absolute address
values.
Memory management is complex, and whenever there is complexity, there are most
likely vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers. It is very easy for people to complain about software vendors and how they do not produce software that provides the
necessary level of security, but hopefully you are gaining more insight into the actual
complexity that is involved with these tasks.

Buffer Overflows
My cup runneth over and so does my buffer.
Today, many people know the term “buffer overflow” and the basic definition, but
it is important for security professionals to understand what is going on beneath the
covers.
A buffer overflow takes place when too much data are accepted as input to a specific
process. A buffer is an allocated segment of memory. A buffer can be overflowed arbitrarily with too much data, but for it to be of any use to an attacker, the code inserted
into the buffer must be of a specific length, followed up by commands the attacker
wants executed. So, the purpose of a buffer overflow may be either to make a mess, by
shoving arbitrary data into various memory segments, or to accomplish a specific task,
by pushing into the memory segment a carefully crafted set of data that will accomplish
a specific task. This task could be to open a command shell with administrative privilege or execute malicious code.
Let’s take a deeper look at how this is accomplished. Software may be written to
accept data from a user, website, database, or another application. The accepted data
needs something to happen to it, because it has been inserted for some type of manipulation or calculation, or to be used as a parameter to be passed to a procedure. A
procedure is code that can carry out a specific type of function on the data and return
the result to the requesting software, as shown in Figure 4-12.
When a programmer writes a piece of software that will accept data, this data and
its associated instructions will be stored in the buffers that make up a stack. The buffers
need to be the right size to accept the inputted data. So if the input is supposed to be
one character, the buffer should be one byte in size. If a programmer does not ensure
that only one byte of data is being inserted into the software, then someone can input
several characters at once and thus overflow that specific buffer.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

333

Figure 4-12 A memory stack has individual buffers to hold instructions and data.

NOTE You can think of a buffer as a small bucket to hold water (data). We
have several of these small buckets stacked on top of one another (memory
stack), and if too much water is poured into the top bucket, it spills over into
the buckets below it (buffer overflow) and overwrites the instructions and
data on the memory stack.
If you are interacting with an application that calculates mortgage rates, you have to
put in the parameters that need to be calculated—years of loan, percentage of interest
rate, and amount of loan. These parameters are passed into empty variables and put in
a linear construct (memory stack), which acts like a queue for the procedure to pull
from when it carries out this calculation. The first thing your mortgage rate application
lays down on the stack is its return pointer. This is a pointer to the requesting application’s memory address that tells the procedure to return control to the requesting application after the procedure has worked through all the values on the stack. The

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

334
mortgage rate application then places on top of the return pointer the rest of the data
you have input and sends a request to the procedure to carry out the necessary calculation, as illustrated in Figure 4-12. The procedure takes the data off the stack starting
at the top, so they are first in, last out (FILO). The procedure carries out its functions on
all the data and returns the result and control back to the requesting mortgage rate
application once it hits the return pointer in the stack.
So the stack is just a segment in memory that allows for communication between
the requesting application and the procedure or subroutine. The potential for problems
comes into play when the requesting application does not carry out proper bounds
checking to ensure the inputted data are of an acceptable length. Look at the following
C code to see how this could happen:
#include
int main(int argc, char **argv)
{
char buf1 [5] = "1111";
char buf2 [7] = "222222";
strcpy (buf2, "3333333333");
printf ("%s\n", buf2);
printf ("%s\n", buf1);
return 0;
}

CAUTION You do not need to know C programming for the CISSP exam.
We are digging deep into this topic because buffer overflows are so common
and have caused grave security breaches over the years. For the CISSP exam,
you just need to understand the overall concept of a buffer overflow.
Here, we are setting up a buffer (buf1) to hold four characters and a NULL value,
and a second buffer (buf2) to hold six characters and a NULL value. (The NULL values
indicate the buffer’s end place in memory.) If we viewed these buffers, we would see the
following:
Buf2
\0 2 2 2 2 2 2
Buf1
\0 1 1 1 1

The application then accepts ten 3s into buf2, which can only hold six characters.
So the six variables in buf2 are filled and then the four variables in buf1 are filled,
overwriting the original contents of buf1. This took place because the strcpy command did not make sure the buffer was large enough to hold that many values. So now
if we looked at the two buffers, we would see the following:
Buf2
\0 3 3 3 3 3 3
Buf1
\0 3 3 3 3

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

335
But what gets even more interesting is when the actual return pointer is written
over, as shown in Figure 4-13. In a carefully crafted buffer overflow attack, the stack is
filled properly so the return pointer can be overwritten and control is given to the malicious instructions that have been loaded onto the stack instead of back to the requesting application. This allows the malicious instructions to be executed in the security
context of the requesting application. If this application is running in a privileged
mode, the attacker has more permissions and rights to carry out more damage.
The attacker must know the size of the buffer to overwrite and must know the addresses that have been assigned to the stack. Without knowing these addresses, she
could not lay down a new return pointer to her malicious code. The attacker must also
write this dangerous payload to be small enough so it can be passed as input from one
procedure to the next.
Windows’ core is written in the C programming language and has layers and layers
of object-oriented code on top of it. When a procedure needs to call upon the operating
system to carry out some type of task, it calls upon a system service via an application
program interface (API) call. The API works like a doorway to the operating system’s
functionality.

Figure 4-13 A buffer overflow attack

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

336
The C programming language is susceptible to buffer overflow attacks because it
allows for direct pointer manipulations to take place. Specific commands can provide
access to low-level memory addresses without carrying out bounds checking. The C
functions that do perform the necessary boundary checking include strncpy(),
strncat(), snprintf(), and vsnprintf().
NOTE An operating system must be written to work with specific CPU
architectures. These architectures dictate system memory addressing,
protection mechanisms, and modes of execution, and work with specific
instruction sets. This means a buffer overflow attack that works on an Intel chip
will not necessarily work on an AMD or a SPARC processor. These different
processors set up the memory address of the stacks differently, so the attacker
may have to craft a different buffer overflow code for different platforms.
Buffer overflows are in the source code of various applications and operating systems. They have been around since programmers started developing software. This
means it is very difficult for a user to identify and fix them. When a buffer overflow is
identified, the vendor usually sends out a patch, so keeping systems current on updates,
hotfixes, and patches is usually the best countermeasure. Some products installed on
systems can also watch for input values that might result in buffer overflows, but the
best countermeasure is proper programming. This means use bounds checking. If an
input value is only supposed to be nine characters, then the application should only
accept nine characters and no more. Some languages are more susceptible to buffer
overflows than others, so programmers should understand these issues, use the right
languages for the right purposes, and carry out code review to identify buffer overflow
vulnerabilities.

Memory Protection Techniques
Since your whole operating system and all your applications are loaded and run
in memory, this is where the attackers can really do their damage. Vendors of different operating systems (Windows, Unix, Linux, Macintosh, etc.) have implemented various types of protection methods integrated into their memory manager processes. For example, Windows Vista was the first version of Windows to
implement address space layout randomization (ASLR), which was first implemented in OpenBSD.
If an attacker wants to maliciously interact with a process, he needs to know
what memory address to send his attack inputs to. If the operating system changed
these addresses continuously, which is what ALSR accomplishes, this would
greatly reduce the potential success of his attack. You can’t mess with something
if you don’t know where it is.
Many of the main operating systems use some form of data execution prevention (DEP), which can be implemented via hardware (CPU) or software (operating system). The actual implementations of DEP varies, but the main goal is to

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

337
help ensure that executable code does not function within memory segments that
could be dangerous. It is similar to not allowing someone suspicious in your
house. You don’t know if this person is really going to do something malicious,
but just to make sure you will not allow him to be in a position where he could
bring harm to you or your household. DEP can mark certain memory locations as
“off limits” with the goal of reducing the “playing field” for hackers and malware.

Memory Leaks
Oh great, the memory leaked all over me. Does someone have a mop?
As stated earlier, when an application makes a request for a memory segment to
work within, it is allocated a specific memory amount by the operating system. When
the application is done with the memory, it is supposed to tell the operating system to
release the memory so it is available to other applications. This is only fair. But some
applications are written poorly and do not indicate to the system that this memory is
no longer in use. If this happens enough times, the operating system could become
“starved” for memory, which would drastically affect the system’s performance.
When a memory leak is identified in the hacker world, this opens the door to new
denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. For example, when it was uncovered that a Unix application and a specific version of a Telnet protocol contained memory leaks, hackers
amplified the problem. They continually sent Telnet requests to systems with these
vulnerabilities. The systems would allocate resources for these network requests, which
in turn would cause more and more memory to be allocated and not returned. Eventually the systems would run out of memory and freeze.
NOTE Memory leaks can take place in operating systems, applications, and
software drivers.

Two main countermeasures can protect against memory leaks: developing better
code that releases memory properly, and using a garbage collector. A garbage collector
is software that runs an algorithm to identify unused committed memory and then tells
the operating system to mark that memory as “available.” Different types of garbage
collectors work with different operating systems and programming languages.

Virtual Memory
My RAM is overflowing! Can I use some of your hard drive space?
Response: No, I don’t like you.
Secondary storage is considered nonvolatile storage media and includes such things
as the computer’s hard drive, USB drives, and CD-ROMs. When RAM and secondary
storage are combined, the result is virtual memory. The system uses hard drive space to

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

338
extend its RAM memory space. Swap space is the reserved hard drive space used to extend RAM capabilities. Windows systems use the pagefile.sys file to reserve this space.
When a system fills up its volatile memory space, it writes data from memory onto the
hard drive. When a program requests access to this data, it is brought from the hard
drive back into memory in specific units, called pages. This process is called virtual
memory paging. Accessing data kept in pages on the hard drive takes more time than
accessing data kept in RAM memory because physical disk read/write access must take
place. Internal control blocks, maintained by the operating system, keep track of what
page frames are residing in RAM and what is available “offline,” ready to be called into
RAM for execution or processing, if needed. The payoff is that it seems as though the
system can hold an incredible amount of information and program instructions in
memory, as shown in Figure 4-14.
A security issue with using virtual swap space is that when the system is shut down,
or processes that were using the swap space are terminated, the pointers to the pages are
reset to “available” even though the actual data written to disk are still physically there.
These data could conceivably be compromised and captured. On various operating
systems, there are routines to wipe the swap spaces after a process is done with it, before

Figure 4-14 Combining RAM and secondary storage to create virtual memory

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

339
it is used again. The routines should also erase this data before a system shutdown, at
which time the operating system would no longer be able to maintain any control over
what happens on the hard drive surface.
NOTE If a program, file, or data are encrypted and saved on the hard drive,
they will be decrypted when used by the controlling program. While these
unencrypted data are sitting in RAM, the system could write out the data to
the swap space on the hard drive, in their unencrypted state. Attackers have
figured out how to gain access to this space in unauthorized manners.

Key Terms
• Process isolation Protection mechanism provided by operating
systems that can be implemented as encapsulation, time multiplexing
of shared resources, naming distinctions, and virtual memory mapping.
• Dynamic link libraries (DLLs) A set of subroutines that are shared by
different applications and operating system processes.
• Base registers Beginning of address space assigned to a process.
Used to ensure a process does not make a request outside its assigned
memory boundaries.
• Limit registers Ending of address space assigned to a process. Used to
ensure a process does not make a request outside its assigned memory
boundaries.
• RAM Memory sticks that are plugged into a computer’s motherboard
and work as volatile memory space for an operating system.
• ROM Nonvolatile memory that is used on motherboards for BIOS
functionality and various device controllers to allow for operating
system-to-device communication. Sometimes used for off-loading
graphic rendering or cryptographic functionality.
• Hardware segmentation Physically mapping software to individual
memory segments.
• Cache memory Fast and expensive memory type that is used by a
CPU to increase read and write operations.
• Absolute addresses Hardware addresses used by the CPU.
• Logical addresses Indirect addressing used by processes within an
operating system. The memory manager carries out logical-to-absolute
address mapping.
• Stack Memory construct that is made up of individually addressable
buffers. Process-to-process communication takes place through the use
of stacks.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

340
• Buffer overflow Too much data is put into the buffers that make up a
stack. Common attack vector used by hackers to run malicious code on
a target system.
• Address space layout randomization (ASLR) Memory protection
mechanism used by some operating systems. The addresses used by
components of a process are randomized so that it is harder for an
attacker to exploit specific memory vulnerabilities.
• Data execution prevention (DEP) Memory protection mechanism
used by some operating systems. Memory segments may be marked as
nonexecutable so that they cannot be misused by malicious software.
• Garbage collector Tool that marks unused memory segments as
usable to ensure that an operating system does not run out of memory.
• Virtual memory Combination of main memory (RAM) and secondary
memory within an operating system.

Input/Output Device Management
Some things come in, some things go out.
Response: We took a vote and would like you to go out.
We have covered a lot of operating system responsibilities up to now, and we are not
stopping yet. An operating system also has to control all input/output devices. It sends
commands to them, accepts their interrupts when they need to communicate with the
CPU, and provides an interface between the devices and the applications.
I/O devices are usually considered block or character devices. A block device works
with data in fixed-size blocks, each block with its own unique address. A disk drive is
an example of a block device. A character device, such as a printer, network interface
card, or mouse, works with streams of characters, without using any fixed sizes. This
type of data is not addressable.
When a user chooses to print a document, open a stored file on a hard drive, or save
files to a USB drive, these requests go from the application the user is working in, through
the operating system, and to the device requested. The operating system uses a device
driver to communicate with a device controller, which may be a circuit card that fits into
an expansion slot on the motherboard. The controller is an electrical component with its
own software that provides a communication path that enables the device and operating
system to exchange data. The operating system sends commands to the device controller’s
registers and the controller then writes data to the peripheral device or extracts data to be
processed by the CPU, depending on the given commands. If the command is to extract
data from the hard drive, the controller takes the bits and puts them into the necessary
block size and carries out a checksum activity to verify the integrity of the data. If the integrity is successfully verified, the data are put into memory for the CPU to interact with.
Operating systems need to access and release devices and computer resources properly. Different operating systems handle accessing devices and resources differently. For
example, Windows 2000 is considered a more stable and safer data processing environment than Windows 9x because applications in Windows 2000 cannot make direct re-

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

341
quests to hardware devices. Windows 2000 and later versions have a much more
controlled method of accessing devices than Windows 9x. This method helps protect
the system from badly written code that does not properly request and release resources. Such a level of protection helps ensure the resources’ integrity and availability.

Interrupts
Excuse me, can I talk now?
Response: Please wait until we call your number.
When an I/O device has completed whatever task was asked of it, it needs to inform
the CPU that the necessary data are now in memory for processing. The device’s controller sends a signal down a bus, which is detected by the interrupt controller. (This is
what it means to use an interrupt. The device signals the interrupt controller and is
basically saying, “I am done and need attention now.”) If the CPU is busy and the device’s interrupt is not a higher priority than whatever job is being processed, then the
device has to wait. The interrupt controller sends a message to the CPU, indicating what
device needs attention. The operating system has a table (called the interrupt vector) of
all the I/O devices connected to it. The CPU compares the received number with the
values within the interrupt vector so it knows which I/O device needs its services. The
table has the memory addresses of the different I/O devices. So when the CPU understands that the hard drive needs attention, it looks in the table to find the correct memory address. This is the new program counter value, which is the initial address of where
the CPU should start reading from.
One of the main goals of the operating system software that controls I/O activity is
to be device independent. This means a developer can write an application to read
(open a file) or write (save a file) to any device (USB drive, hard drive, CD-ROM drive).
This level of abstraction frees application developers from having to write different
procedures to interact with the various I/O devices. If a developer had to write an individual procedure of how to write to a CD-ROM drive, and how to write to a USB drive,
how to write to a hard disk, and so on, each time a new type of I/O device was developed, all of the applications would have to be patched or upgraded.
Operating systems can carry out software I/O procedures in various ways. We will
look at the following methods:
• Programmed I/O
• Interrupt-driven I/O
• I/O using DMA
• Premapped I/O
• Fully mapped I/O
Programmable I/O If an operating system is using programmable I/O, this means
the CPU sends data to an I/O device and polls the device to see if it is ready to accept
more data. If the device is not ready to accept more data, the CPU wastes time by waiting
for the device to become ready. For example, the CPU would send a byte of data (a character) to the printer and then ask the printer if it is ready for another byte. The CPU sends
the text to be printed one byte at a time. This is a very slow way of working and wastes
precious CPU time. So the smart people figured out a better way: interrupt-driven I/O.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

342
Interrupt-Driven I/O If an operating system is using interrupt-driven I/O, this
means the CPU sends a character over to the printer and then goes and works on another process’s request. When the printer is done printing the first character, it sends an
interrupt to the CPU. The CPU stops what it is doing, sends another character to the
printer, and moves to another job. This process (send character—go do something
else—interrupt—send another character) continues until the whole text is printed. Although the CPU is not waiting for each byte to be printed, this method does waste a lot
of time dealing with all the interrupts. So we excused those smart people and brought
in some new smarter people, who came up with I/O using DMA.
I/O Using DMA Direct memory access (DMA) is a way of transferring data between
I/O devices and the system’s memory without using the CPU. This speeds up data transfer rates significantly. When used in I/O activities, the DMA controller feeds the characters to the printer without bothering the CPU. This method is sometimes referred to as
unmapped I/O.
Premapped I/O Premapped I/O and fully mapped I/O (described next) do not
pertain to performance, as do the earlier methods, but provide two approaches that can
directly affect security. In a premapped I/O system, the CPU sends the physical memory
address of the requesting process to the I/O device, and the I/O device is trusted enough
to interact with the contents of memory directly, so the CPU does not control the interactions between the I/O device and memory. The operating system trusts the device to
behave properly. Scary.
Fully Mapped I/O Under fully mapped I/O, the operating system does not trust
the I/O device. The physical address is not given to the I/O device. Instead, the device
works purely with logical addresses and works on behalf (under the security context) of
the requesting process, so the operating system does not trust the device to interact with
memory directly. The operating system does not trust the process or device and it acts
as the broker to control how they communicate with each other.

CPU Architecture
If I am corrupted, very bad things can happen.
Response: Then you need to go into ring 0.
An operating system and a CPU have to be compatible and share a similar architecture to work together. While an operating system is software and CPU is hardware, they
actually work so closely together when a computer is running this delineation gets
blurred. An operating system has to be able to “fit into” a CPU like a hand in a glove.
Once a hand is inside of a glove they both move together as a single entity.
An operating system and a CPU must be able to communicate through an instruction set. You may have heard of x86, which is a family of instruction sets. An instruction
set is a language an operating system must be able to talk to properly communicate to a
CPU. As an analogy, if you want me to carry out some tasks for you, you will have to tell
me the instructions in a manner that I understand.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

343
The microarchitecture contains the things that make up the physical CPU (registers,
logic gates, ALU, cache, etc.). The CPU knows mechanically how to use all of these
parts; it just needs to know what the operating system wants it to do. A chef knows how
to use all of his pots, pans, spices, and ingredients, but he needs an order from the
menu so he knows how to use all of these properly to achieve the requested outcome.
Similarly, the CPU has a “menu” of operations the operating system can “order” from,
which is the instruction set. The operating system puts in its order (render graphics on
screen, print to printer, encrypt data, etc.), and the CPU carries out the request and
provides the result.

NOTE The most common instruction set in use today (x86) can be used
within different microarchitectures (Intel, AMD, etc.) and with different
operating systems (Windows, Macintosh, Linux, etc.).
Along with sharing this same language (instruction set), the operating system and
CPU have to work within the same ring architecture. Let’s approach this from the top
and work our way down. If an operating system is going to be stable, it must be able to
protect itself from its users and their applications. This requires the capability to distinguish between operations performed on behalf of the operating system itself and operations performed on behalf of the users or applications. This can be complex, because
the operating system software may be accessing memory segments, sending instructions to the CPU for processing, accessing secondary storage devices, communicating
with peripheral devices, dealing with networking requests, and more at the same time.
Each user application (e-mail client, antimalware program, web browser, word processor, personal firewall, and so on) may also be attempting the same types of activities at
the same time. The operating system must keep track of all of these events and ensure
none of them put the system at risk.
The operating system has several protection mechanisms to ensure processes do not
negatively affect each other or the critical components of the system itself. One has already been mentioned: memory protection. Another security mechanism the system
uses is a ring-based architecture.
The architecture of the CPU dictates how many rings are available for an operating
system to use. As shown in Figure 4-15, the rings act as containers and barriers. They are

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

344
Figure 4-15
More trusted
processes operate
within lowernumbered rings.

containers in that they provide an execution environment for processes to be able carry
out their functions, and barriers in that the different processes are “walled off” from
each other based upon the trust the operating system has in them.
Let’s say that I build a facility based upon this type of ring structure. My crown jewels are stored in the center of the facility (ring 0), so I am not going to allow just anyone
in this section of my building. Only the people I really, really trust. I will allow the
people I kind of trust in the next level of my facility (ring 1). If I don’t trust you at all,
you are going into ring 3 so that you are as far from my crown jewels as possible. This
is how the ring structure of a CPU works. Ring 0 is for the most trusted components of
the operating system itself. This is because processes that are allowed to work in ring 0
can access very critical components in the system. Ring 0 is where the operating system’s kernel (most trusted and powerful processes) works. Less trusted processes, as in
operating system utilities, can work in ring 1, and the least trusted processes (applications) work in the farthest ring, ring 3. This layered approach provides a self-protection
mechanism for the operating system.
Operating system components that operate in ring 0 have the most access to memory locations, peripheral devices, system drivers, and sensitive configuration parameters. Because this ring provides much more dangerous access to critical resources, it is
the most protected. Applications usually operate in ring 3, which limits the type of
memory, peripheral device, and driver access activity and is controlled through the op-

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

345
erating system services and system calls. The type of commands and instructions sent to
the CPU from applications in the outer rings are more restrictive in nature. If an application tries to send instructions to the CPU that fall outside its permission level, the
CPU treats this violation as an exception and may show a general protection fault or
exception error and attempt to shut down the offending application.
These protection rings provide an intermediate layer between processes, and are
used for access control when one process tries to access another process or interact with
system resources. The ring number determines the access level a process has—the lower
the ring number, the greater the amount of privilege given to the process running within that ring. A process in ring 3 cannot directly access a process in ring 1, but processes
in ring 1 can directly access processes in ring 3. Entities cannot directly communicate
with objects in higher rings.
If we go back to our facility analogy, people in ring 0 can go and talk to any of the
other people in the different areas (rings) of the facility. I trust them and I will let them
do what they need to do. But if people in ring 3 of my facility want to talk to people in
ring 2, I cannot allow this to happen in an unprotected manner. I don’t trust these
people and do not know what they will do. Someone from ring 3 might try to punch
someone from ring 2 in the face and then everyone will be unhappy. So if someone in
ring 3 needs to communicate to someone in ring 2, he has to write down his message
on a piece of paper and give it to the guard. The guard will review it and hand it to the
person in ring 2 if it is safe and acceptable.
In an operating system, the less trusted processes that are working in ring 3 send
their communication requests to an API provided by the operating system specifically
for this purpose (guard). The communication request is passed to the more trusted
process in ring 2 in a controlled and safe manner.

Application Programming Interface (API)
An API is the doorway to a protocol, operating service, process, or DLL. When one
piece of software needs to send information to another piece of software, it must
format its communication request in a way that the receiving software understands. An application may send a request to an operating system’s cryptographic
DLL, which will in turn carry out the requested cryptographic functionality for
the application.
We will cover APIs in more depth in Chapter 10, but for now understand that
it is a type of guard that provides access control between the trusted and nontrusted processes within an operating system. If an application (nontrusted) process needs to send a message to the operating system’s network protocol stack, it
will send the information to the operating system’s networking service. The application sends the request in a format that will be accepted by the service’s API.
APIs must be properly written by the operating system developers to ensure dangerous data cannot pass through this communication channel. If suspicious data
gets past an API, the service could be compromised and execute code in a privileged context.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

346
CPU Operation Modes
As stated earlier, the CPU provides the ring structure architecture and the operating
system assigns its processes to the different rings. When a process is placed in ring 0, its
activities are carried out in kernel mode, which means it can access the most critical
resources in a nonrestrictive manner. The process is assigned a status level by the operating system (stored as PSW) and when it needs to interact with the CPU, the CPU
checks its status to know what it can and cannot allow the process to do. If the process
has the status of user mode, the CPU will limit the process’s access to system resources
and restrict the functions it can carry out on these resources.
Attackers have found many ways around this protection scheme and have tricked
operating systems into loading their malicious code into ring 0, which is very dangerous. Attackers have fooled operating systems by creating their malicious code to mimic
system-based DLLs, loadable kernel modules, or other critical files. The operating system then loads the malicious code into ring 0 and it runs in kernel mode. At this point
the code could carry out almost any activity within the operating system in an unprotected manner. The malicious code can install key loggers, sniffers, code injection tools,
and Trojaned files. The code could delete files on the hard drive, install backdoors, or
send sensitive data to the attacker’s computer using the compromised system’s network
protocol stack.
NOTE The actual ring numbers available in a CPU architecture are dictated
by the CPU itself. Some processors provide four rings and some provide eight
or more. The operating systems do not have to use each available ring in the
architecture; for example, Windows commonly uses only rings 0 and 3 and
does not use ring 1 or 2. The vendor of the CPU determines the number of
available rings, and the vendor of the operating system determines how it will
use these rings.

Process Domain
The term domain just means a collection of resources. A process has a collection
of resources assigned to it when it is loaded into memory (run time), as in memory addresses, files it can interact with, system services available to it, peripheral
devices, etc. The higher the ring level that the process executes within, the larger
the domain of resources that is available to it.
It is the responsibility of the operating system to provide a safe execution
domain for the different processes it serves. This means that when a process is
carrying out its activities, the operating system provides a safe, predictable, and
stable environment. The execution domain is a combination of where the process can carry out its functions (memory segment), the tools available to it, and
the boundaries involved to keep it in a safe and confined area.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

347

Operating System Architectures
We started this chapter by looking at system architecture approaches. Remember that a
system is made up of all the necessary pieces for computation: hardware, firmware, and
software components. The chapter moved into the architecture of a CPU, which just
looked at the processor. Now we will look at operating system architectures, which deal
specifically with the software components of a system.
Operating system architectures have gone through quite an evolutionary process
based upon industry functionality and security needs. The architecture is the framework
that dictates how the pieces and parts of the operating system interact with each other
and provide the functionality that the applications and users require of it. This section
looks at the monolithic, layered, microkernel, and hybrid microkernel architectures.
While operating systems are very complex, some main differences in the architectural approaches have come down to what is running in kernel mode and what is not.
In a monolithic architecture, all of the operating system processes work in kernel mode,
as illustrated in Figure 4-16. The services provided by the operating system (memory
management, I/O management, process scheduling, file management, etc.) are available to applications through system calls.
Earlier operating systems, such as MS-DOS, were based upon a monolithic design.
The whole operating system acted as one software layer between the user applications
and the hardware level. There are several problems with this approach: complexity,
portability, extensibility, and security. Since the functionality of the code is spread
throughout the system, it is hard to test and debug. If there is a flaw in a software component it is difficult to localize and easily fix. Many pieces of this spaghetti bowl of
code had to be modified just to address one issue.
This type of operating system is also hard to port from one hardware platform to
another because the hardware interfaces are implemented throughout the software. If
the operating system has to work on new hardware, it would require extensive rewriting
of the code. Too many components interact directly with the hardware, which increased
the complexity.

Figure 4-16 Monolithic operating system architecture

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

348
Since the monolithic system is not modular in nature, it is difficult to add and subtract functionality. As we will see in this section, later operating systems became more
modular in nature to allow for functionality to be added as needed. And since all the
code ran in a privileged state (kernel mode), user mistakes could cause drastic effects
and malicious activities could take place more easily. Too much code was running in
kernel mode, and it was too disorganized.
NOTE MS-DOS was a very basic and simplistic operating system that used
a rudimentary user interface, which was just a simple command interpreter
(shell). Early versions of Windows (3.x) just added a user-friendly graphical
user interface (GUI) on top of MS-DOS. Windows NT and 2000 broke
away from the MS-DOS model and moved toward a kernel-based
architecture. A kernel is made up of all the critical processes within an
operating system. A kernel approach centralized and modularized critical
operating system functionality.
In the next generation of operating system architecture, system architects added
more organization to the system. The layered operating system architecture separates
system functionality into hierarchical layers. For example, a system that followed a layered architecture was, strangely enough, called THE (Technische Hogeschool Eindhoven) multiprogramming system. THE had five layers of functionality. Layer 0
controlled access to the processor and provided multiprogramming functionality; layer
1 carried out memory management; layer 2 provided interprocess communication;
layer 3 dealt with I/O devices; and layer 4 was where the applications resided. The processes at the different layers each had interfaces to be used by processes in layers below
and above them.
This layered approach, illustrated in Figure 4-17, had the full operating system still
working in kernel mode (ring 0). The main difference between the monolithic approach
and this layered approach is that the functionality within the operating system was laid
out in distinctive layers that called upon each other.
Figure 4-17
Layered operating
system architecture

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

349
In the monolithic architecture, software modules communicate to each other in an
ad hoc manner. In the layered architecture, module communication takes place in an
organized, hierarchical structure. Routines in one layer only facilitate the layer directly
below it, so no layer is missed.
Layered operating systems provide data hiding, which means that instructions and
data (packaged up as procedures) at the various layers do not have direct access to the
instructions and data at any other layers. Each procedure at each layer has access only
to its own data and a set of functions that it requires to carry out its own tasks. If a procedure can access more procedures than it really needs, this opens the door for more
successful compromises. For example, if an attacker is able to compromise and gain
control of one procedure and this procedure has direct access to all other procedures,
the attacker could compromise a more privileged procedure and carry out more devastating activities.
A monolithic operating system provides only one layer of security. In a layered system, each layer should provide its own security and access control. If one layer contains
the necessary security mechanisms to make security decisions for all the other layers,
then that one layer knows too much about (and has access to) too many objects at the
different layers. This directly violates the data-hiding concept. Modularizing software
and its code increases the assurance level of the system, because if one module is compromised, it does not mean all other modules are now vulnerable.
Since this layered approach provided more modularity, it allows for functionality to
be added and subtracted from the operating systems more easily. (You experience this
type of modularity when you load new kernel modules to Linux-based systems or DLLs
in Windows.) The layered approach also introduced the idea of having an abstraction
level added to the lower portion of the operating system. This abstraction level allows
the operating system to be more portable from one hardware platform to the next. (In
Windows environments you know this invention as the Hardware Abstraction Layer, or
HAL). Examples of layered operating systems are THE, VAX/VMS, Multics, and Unix
(although THE and Multics are no longer in use).
The downfalls with this layered approach are performance, complexity, and security. If several layers of execution have to take place for even simple operating system activities, there can be a performance hit. The security issues mainly dealt with so much
code still running in kernel mode. The more processes there are running in a privileged
state, the higher the likelihood of compromises that have high impact. The attack surface of the operating system overall needed to be reduced.
As the evolution of operating system development marched forward, the system
architects reduced the number of required processes that made up the kernel (critical
operating system components) and some operating system types moved from a monolithic model to a microkernel model. The microkernel is a smaller subset of critical
kernel processes, which focus mainly on memory management and interprocess communication, as shown in Figure 4-18. Other operating system components, such as
protocols, device drivers, and file systems, are not included in the microkernel and
worked in user mode. The goal was to limit the processes that run in kernel mode so
that the overall system is more secure, complexity is reduced, and portability of the
operating system is increased.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

350

Figure 4-18 Microkernel architecture

Operating system vendors found that having just a stripped-down microkernel
working in kernel mode had a lot of performance issues because processing required so
many mode transitions. A mode transition takes place every time a CPU has to move
between executing instructions for processes that work in kernel mode versus user
mode. As an analogy, let’s say that I have to set up a different office environment for my
two employees when they come to the office to work. There is only one office with one
desk, one computer, and one file cabinet (just like the computer only has one CPU).
Before Sam gets to the office I have to put out the papers for his accounts, fill the file
cabinet with files relating to his tasks, configure the workstation with his user profile,
and make sure his coffee cup is available. When Sam leaves and before Vicky gets to the
office, I have to change out all the papers, files, user profile, and coffee cup. My responsibility is to provide the different employees with the right environment so that they
can get right down to work when they arrive at the office, but constantly changing out
all the items is time consuming. In essence, this is what a CPU has to do when an interrupt takes place and a process from a different mode (kernel or user) needs its instructions executed. The current process information has to be stored and saved so the CPU
can come back and complete the original process’s requests. The new process information (memory addresses, program counter value, PSW, etc.) has to be moved into the
CPU registers. Once this is completed, then the CPU can start executing the process’s
instruction set. This back and forth has to happen because it is a multitasking system
that is sharing one resource—the CPU.
So the industry went from a bloated kernel (whole operating system) to a small
kernel (microkernel), but the performance hit was too great. There had to be a compromise between the two, which is referred to as the hybrid microkernel architecture.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

351
In a hybrid microkernel architecture, the microkernel still exists and carries out
mainly interprocess communication and memory management responsibilities. All of
the other operating services work in a client\server model. The operating system services are the servers, and the application processes are the clients. When a user’s application needs the operating system to carry out some type of functionality for it (file
system interaction, peripheral device communication, network access, etc.), it makes a
request to the specific API of the system’s server service. This operating system service
carries out the activity for the application and returns the result when finished. The
separation of a microkernel and the other operating system services within a hybrid
microkernel architecture is illustrated in Figure 4-19, which is the basic structure of a
Windows environment. The services that run outside the microkernel are collectively
referred to as the executive services.

Figure 4-19 Windows hybrid microkernel architecture

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

352
The basic core definitions of the different architecture types are as follows:
• Monolithic All operating system processes run in kernel mode.
• Layered All operating system processes run in a hierarchical model in kernel
mode.
• Microkernel Core operating system processes run in kernel mode and the
remaining ones run in user mode.
• Hybrid microkernel All operating system processes run in kernel mode. Core
processes run within a microkernel and others run in a client\server model.
The main architectures that are used in systems today are illustrated in Figure 4-20.

Cause for Confusion
If you continue your studies in operating system architecture, you will undoubtedly run into some of the confusion and controversy surrounding these families
of architectures. The intricacies and complexities of these arguments are out of
scope for the CISSP exam, but a little insight is worth noting.
Today, the terms monolithic operating system and monolithic kernel are used
interchangeably, which invites confusion. The industry started with monolithic
operating systems, as in MS-DOS, which did not clearly separate out kernel and
nonkernel processes. As operating systems advanced, the kernel components became more organized, isolated, protected, and focused. The hardware-facing
code became more virtualized to allow for portability, and the code became more
modular so functionality components (loadable kernel modules, DLLs) could be
loaded and unloaded as needed. So while a Unix system today follows a monolithic kernel model, it does not mean that it is as rudimentary as MS-DOS, which
was a monolithic operating system. The core definition of monolithic stayed the
same, which just means the whole operating system runs in kernel mode, but
operating systems that fall under this umbrella term advanced over time.
Different operating systems (BSD, Solaris, Linux, Windows, Macintosh, etc.)
have different flavors and versions, and while some cleanly fit into the classic architecture buckets, some do not because the vendors have had to develop their
systems to meet its specific customer demands. Some operating systems only got
more lean and stripped of functionality so that they could work in embedded
systems, real-time systems, or dedicated devices (firewalls, VPN concentrators),
and some got more bloated to provide extensive functionality (Windows, Linux).
Operating systems moved from cooperative multitasking to preemptive, improved memory management; some changed file system types (FAT to NTFS); I\O
management matured; networking components were added; and there was allowance for distributed computing and multiprocessing. So in reality, we cannot
think that architectural advancement just had to do with what code ran in kernel
mode and what did not, but these design families are ways for us to segment
operating system advancements at a macro level.
You do not need to know the architecture types specific operating systems
follow for the CISSP exam, but just the architecture types. Remember that the
CISSP exam is a nonvendor and high-level exam.

Figure 4-20

Major operating system kernel architectures

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

354
Operating system architecture is critical when it comes to the security of a system
overall. Systems can be patched, but this is only a Band-Aid approach. Security should
be baked in from the beginning and then thought through in every step of the development life cycle.

Key Terms
• Interrupt Software or hardware signal that indicates that system
resources (i.e., CPU) are needed for instruction processing.
• Instruction set Set of operations and commands that can be
implemented by a particular processor (CPU).
• Microarchitecture Specific design of a microprocessor, which includes
physical components (registers, logic gates, ALU, cache, etc.) that
support a specific instruction set.
• Application programming interface Software interface that enables
process-to-process interaction. Common way to provide access to
standard routines to a set of software programs.
• Monolithic operating system architecture All of the code of
the operating system working in kernel mode in an ad hoc and
nonmodularized manner.
• Layered operating system architecture Architecture that separates
system functionality into hierarchical layers.
• Data hiding Use of segregation in design decisions to protect software
components from negatively interacting with each other. Commonly
enforced through strict interfaces.
• Microkernel architecture Reduced amount of code running in kernel
mode carrying out critical operating system functionality. Only the
absolutely necessary code runs in kernel mode, and the remaining
operating system code runs in user mode.
• Hybrid microkernel architecture Combination of monolithic and
microkernel architectures. The microkernel carries out critical operating
system functionality, and the remaining functionality is carried out in a
client\server model within kernel mode.
• Mode transition When the CPU has to change from processing code
in user mode to kernel mode. This is a protection measure, but it causes
a performance hit.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

355
Virtual Machines
I would like my own simulated environment so I can have my own world.
If you have been into computers for a while, you might remember computer games
that did not have the complex, lifelike graphics of today’s games. Pong and Asteroids
were what we had to play with when we were younger. In those simpler times, the
games were 16-bit and were written to work in a 16-bit MS-DOS environment. When
our Windows operating systems moved from 16-bit to 32-bit, the 32-bit operating systems were written to be backward compatible, so someone could still load and play a
16-bit game in an environment that the game did not understand. The continuation of
this little life pleasure was available to users because the operating systems created virtual environments for the games to run in.
When a 16-bit application needs to interact with the operating system, it has been
developed to make system calls and interact with the computer’s memory in a way that
would only work within a 16-bit operating system—not a 32-bit system. So, the virtual
environment simulates a 16-bit operating system, and when the application makes a
request, the operating system converts the 16-bit request into a 32-bit request (this is
called thunking) and reacts to the request appropriately. When the system sends a reply
to this request, it changes the 32-bit reply into a 16-bit reply so the application understands it.
Today, virtual environments are much more advanced. Basic virtualization enables
single hardware equipment to run multiple operating system environments simultaneously, greatly enhancing processing power utilization, among other benefits. Creating
virtual instances of operating systems, applications, and storage devices is known as
virtualization.
In today’s jargon, a virtual instance of an operating system is known as a virtual
machine. A virtual machine is commonly referred to as a guest that is executed in the
host environment. Virtualization allows a single host environment to execute multiple
guests at once, with multiple virtual machines dynamically pooling resources from a
common physical system. Computer resources such as RAM, processors, and storage
are emulated through the host environment. The virtual machines do not directly access these resources; instead, they communicate with a hypervisor within the host environment, which is responsible for managing system resources. The hypervisor is the
central program that controls the execution of the various guest operating systems and
provides the abstraction level between the guest and host environments, as shown in
Figure 4-21.
What this means is that you can have one computer running several different operating systems at one time. For example, you can run a system with Windows 2000,
Linux, Unix, and Windows 2008 on one computer. Think of a house that has different
rooms. Each operating system gets its own room, but each share the same resources that

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

356
Figure 4-21
The hypervisor
controls virtual
machine instances.

Virtual Machine 1

Virtual Machine 2

Application

Application

Operating system

Operating system

CPU

CPU

Hypervisor
Hardware
CPU

CPU

Memory

Disk
NIC

the house provides—a foundation, electricity, water, roof, and so on. An operating system that is “living” in a specific room does not need to know about or interact with
another operating system in another room to take advantage of the resources provided
by the house. The same concept happens in a computer: Each operating system shares
the resources provided by the physical system (as in memory, processor, buses, and so
on). They “live” and work in their own “rooms,” which are the guest virtual machines.
The physical computer itself is the host.
Why do this? One reason is that it is cheaper than having a full physical system for
each and every operating system. If they can all live on one system and share the same
physical resources, your costs are reduced immensely. This is the same reason people
get roommates. The rent can be split among different people, and all can share the
same house and resources. Another reason to use virtualization is security. Providing
software their own “clean” environments to work within reduces the possibility of
them negatively interacting with each other.
The following useful list, taken from www.kernelthread.com/publications/virtualization, pertains to the different reasons for using virtualization in various environments. It was written years ago, but is still very applicable to today’s needs and the
CISSP exam.
• Virtual machines can be used to consolidate the workloads of several underutilized servers to fewer machines, perhaps a single machine (server consolidation).
Related benefits are savings on hardware, environmental costs, management, and
administration of the server infrastructure.
• The need to run legacy applications is served well by virtual machines. A legacy
application might simply not run on newer hardware and/or operating systems. Even
if it does, if may under-utilize the server, so it makes sense to consolidate several
applications. This may be difficult without virtualization because such applications
are usually not written to coexist within a single execution environment.
• Virtual machines can be used to provide secure, isolated sandboxes for running
untrusted applications. You could even create such an execution environment

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

357
dynamically—on the fly—as you download something from the Internet and run
it. Virtualization is an important concept in building secure computing platforms.
• Virtual machines can be used to create operating systems, or execution environments
with resource limits, and given the right schedulers, resource guarantees. Partitioning
usually goes hand-in-hand with quality of service in the creation of QoS-enabled
operating systems.
• Virtual machines can provide the illusion of hardware, or hardware configuration
that you do not have (such as SCSI devices or multiple processors). Virtualization
can also be used to simulate networks of independent computers.
• Virtual machines can be used to run multiple operating systems simultaneously:
different versions, or even entirely different systems, which can be on hot standby.
Some such systems may be hard or impossible to run on newer real hardware.
• Virtual machines allow for powerful debugging and performance monitoring. You can
put such tools in the virtual machine monitor, for example. Operating systems can
be debugged without losing productivity, or setting up more complicated debugging
scenarios.
• Virtual machines can isolate what they run, so they provide fault and error containment.
You can inject faults proactively into software to study its subsequent behavior.
• Virtual machines are great tools for research and academic experiments. Since they
provide isolation, they are safer to work with. They encapsulate the entire state of a
running system: you can save the state, examine it, modify it, reload it, and so on.
• Virtualization can make tasks such as system migration, backup, and recovery easier
and more manageable.
• Virtualization on commodity hardware has been popular in co-located hosting. Many
of the above benefits make such hosting secure, cost-effective, and appealing in general.

System Security Architecture
Up to this point we have looked at system architectures, CPU architectures, and operating system architectures. Remember that a system architecture has several views to it,
depending upon the stakeholder’s individual concerns. Since our main concern is security, we are going to approach system architecture from a security point of view and drill
down into the core components that are part of most computing systems today. But
first we need to understand how the goals for the individual system security architectures are defined.

Security Policy
In life we set goals for ourselves, our teams, companies, and families to meet. Setting a
goal defines the desired end state. We might define a goal for our company to make $2
million by the end of the year. We might define a goal of obtaining three government
contracts for our company within the next six months. A goal could be that we lose 30

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

358
pounds in 12 months or save enough money for our child to be able to go off to college
when she turns 18 years old. The point is that we have to define a desired end state and
from there we can lay out a structured plan on how to accomplish those goals, punctuated with specific action items and a defined timeline.
It is not usually helpful to have vague goal statements, as in “save money” or “lose
weight” or “become successful.” Our goals need to be specific, or how do we know
when we accomplish them? This is also true in computer security. If your boss gave you
a piece of paper that had a simple goal written on it, “Build a secure system,” what does
this mean? What is the definition of a “system”? What is the definition of “secure”? Just
draw a picture of a pony on this piece of paper and give it back to him and go to lunch.
You don’t have time for such silliness.
When you get back from lunch, your boss hands you the same paper with the
following:
• Discretionary access control–based operating system
• Provides role-based access control functionality
• Capability of protecting data classified at “public” and “confidential” levels
• Does not allow unauthorized access to sensitive data or critical system
functions
• Enforces least privilege and separation of duties
• Provides auditing capabilities
• Implements trusted paths and trusted shells for sensitive processing activities
• Enforces identification, authentication, and authorization of trusted subjects
• Implements a capability-based authentication methodology
• Does not contain covert channels
• Enforces integrity rules on critical files
Now you have more direction on what it is that he wants you to accomplish and
you can work with him to form the overall security goals for the system you will be
designing and developing. All of these goals need to be captured and outlined in a security policy.
Security starts at a policy level, which are high-level directives that provide the foundational goals for a system overall and the components that make it up from a security
perspective. A security policy is a strategic tool that dictates how sensitive information
and resources are to be managed and protected. A security policy expresses exactly what
the security level should be by setting the goals of what the security mechanisms are
supposed to accomplish. This is an important element that has a major role in defining
the architecture and design of the system. The security policy is a foundation for the
specifications of a system and provides the baseline for evaluating a system after it is
built. The evaluation is carried out to make sure that the goals that were laid out in the
security policy were accomplished.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

359
NOTE Chapter 2 examined security policies in-depth, but those policies
were directed toward organizations, not technical systems. The security
policies being addressed here are for operating systems, devices, and
applications. The different policy types are similar in nature but have different
targets: an organization as opposed to an individual computer system.
In Chapter 3 we went through discretionary access control (DAC) and mandatory
access control (MAC) models. A DAC-based operating system is going to have a very
different (less strict) security policy than a MAC-based system (more strict). The security mechanisms within these very different types of systems will vary, but the systems
commonly overlap in the main structures of their security architecture. We will explore
these structures in the following sections.

Security Architecture Requirements
In the 1970s computer systems were moving from single user, stand-alone, centralized
and closed systems to multiuser systems that had multiprogramming functionality and
networking capabilities. The U.S. government needed to ensure that all of the systems
that it was purchasing and implementing were properly protecting its most secret secrets. The government had various levels of classified data (secret, top secret) and users
with different clearance levels (Secret, Top Secret). It needed to come up with a way to
instruct vendors on how to build computer systems to meet their security needs and in
turn a way to test the products these vendors developed based upon those same security needs.
In 1972, the U.S. government released a report (Computer Security Technology
Planning Study) that outlined basic and foundational security requirements of computer systems that it would deem acceptable for purchase and deployment. These requirements were further defined and built upon, which resulted in the Trusted
Computer System Evaluation Criteria, which we will cover in more detail at the end of
this chapter. These requirements shaped the security architecture of almost all of the
systems in use today. Some of the core tenets of these requirements were trusted computing base, security perimeter, reference monitor, and the security kernel.

Trusted Computing Base
The trusted computing base (TCB) is a collection of all the hardware, software, and firmware components within a system that provide some type of security and enforce the
system’s security policy. The TCB does not address only operating system components,
because a computer system is not made up of only an operating system. Hardware, software components, and firmware components can affect the system in a negative or
positive manner, and each has a responsibility to support and enforce the security policy of that particular system. Some components and mechanisms have direct responsibilities in supporting the security policy, such as firmware that will not let a user boot a
computer from a USB drive, or the memory manager that will not let processes overwrite other processes’ data. Then there are components that do not enforce the security

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

360
policy but must behave properly and not violate the trust of a system. Examples of the
ways in which a component could violate the system’s security policy include an application that is allowed to make a direct call to a piece of hardware instead of using the
proper system calls through the operating system, a process that is allowed to read data
outside of its approved memory space, or a piece of software that does not properly
release resources after use.
The operating system’s kernel is made up of hardware, software, and firmware, so in
a sense the kernel is the TCB. But the TCB can include other components, such as
trusted commands, programs, and configuration files that can directly interact with the
kernel. For example, when installing a Unix system, the administrator can choose to
install the TCB configuration during the setup procedure. If the TCB is enabled, then
the system has a trusted path, a trusted shell, and system integrity–checking capabilities. A trusted path is a communication channel between the user, or program, and the
TCB. The TCB provides protection resources to ensure this channel cannot be compromised in any way. A trusted shell means that someone who is working in that shell
(command interpreter) cannot “bust out of it” and other processes cannot “bust into it.”
Every operating system has specific components that would cause the system grave
danger if they were compromised. The components that make up the TCB provide extra
layers of protection around these mechanisms to help ensure they are not compromised, so the system will always run in a safe and predictable manner. While the TCB
components can provide extra layers of protection for sensitive processes, they themselves have to be developed securely. The BIOS function should have a password protection capability and be tamperproof. The subsystem within a Windows operating system
that generates access tokens should not be able to be hijacked and be used to produce
fake tokens for malicious processes. Before a process can interact with a system configuration file, it must be authenticated by the security kernel. Device drivers should not be
able to be modified in an unauthorized manner. Basically, any piece of a system that
could be used to compromise the system or put it into an unstable condition is considered to be part of the TCB and it must be developed and controlled very securely.
You can think of a TCB as a building. You want the building to be strong and safe,
so there are certain components that absolutely have to be built and installed properly.
The right types of construction nails need to be used, not the flimsy ones we use at
home to hold up pictures of our grandparents. The beams in the walls need to be made
out of steel and properly placed. The concrete in the foundation needs to be made of
the right concentration of gravel and water. The windows need to be shatterproof. The
electrical wiring needs to be of proper grade and grounded.
An operating system also has critical pieces that absolutely have to be built and
installed properly. The memory manager has to be tamperproof and properly protect
shared memory spaces. When working in kernel mode, the CPU must have all logic
gates in the proper place. Operating system APIs must only accept secure service requests. Access control lists on objects cannot be modified in an unauthorized manner.
Auditing must take place and the audit trails cannot be modified in an unauthorized manner. Interprocess communication must take place in an approved and controlled manner.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

361
The processes within the TCB are the components that protect the system overall. So
the developers of the operating system must make sure these processes have their own
execution domain. This means they reside in ring 0, their instructions are executed in
privileged state, and no less trusted processes can directly interact with them. The developers need to ensure the operating system maintains an isolated execution domain, so
their processes cannot be compromised or tampered with. The resources that the TCB
processes use must also be isolated, so tight access control can be provided and all access requests and operations can be properly audited. So basically, the operating system
ensures that all the non-TCB processes and TCB processes interact in a secure manner.
When a system goes through an evaluation process, part of the process is to identify
the architecture, security services, and assurance mechanisms that make up the TCB. During the evaluation process, the tests must show how the TCB is protected from accidental
or intentional tampering and compromising activity. For systems to achieve a higher trust
level rating, they must meet well-defined TCB requirements, and the details of their operational states, developing stages, testing procedures, and documentation will be reviewed with more granularity than systems attempting to achieve a lower trust rating.
By using specific security criteria, trust can be built into a system, evaluated, and
certified. This approach can provide a measurement system for customers to use when
comparing one product to another. It also gives vendors guidelines on what expectations
are put upon their systems and provides a common assurance rating metric so when one
group talks about a C2 rating, everyone else understands what that term means.
The Orange Book is one of these evaluation criteria. It defines a trusted system as
hardware and software that utilize measures to protect classified data for a range of users without violating access rights and the security policy. It looks at all protection
mechanisms within a system that enforce the security policy and provide an environment that will behave in a manner expected of it. This means each layer of the system
must trust the underlying layer to perform the expected functions, provide the expected
level of protection, and operate in an expected manner under many different situations.
When the operating system makes calls to hardware, it anticipates that data will be returned in a specific data format and behave in a consistent and predictable manner.
Applications that run on top of the operating system expect to be able to make certain
system calls, receive the required data in return, and operate in a reliable and dependable environment. Users expect the hardware, operating system, and applications to
perform in particular fashions and provide a certain level of functionality. For all of
these actions to behave in such predicable manners, the requirements of a system must
be addressed in the planning stages of development, not afterward.

Security Perimeter
Now, whom do we trust?
Response: Anyone inside the security perimeter.
As stated previously, not every process and resource falls within the TCB, so some
of these components fall outside of an imaginary boundary referred to as the security
perimeter. A security perimeter is a boundary that divides the trusted from the untrusted. For the system to stay in a secure and trusted state, precise communication standards

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

362
must be developed to ensure that when a component within the TCB needs to communicate with a component outside the TCB, the communication cannot expose the
system to unexpected security compromises. This type of communication is handled
and controlled through interfaces.
For example, a resource that is within the boundary of the security perimeter is
considered to be a part of the TCB and must not allow less trusted components access
to critical system resources in an insecure manner. The processes within the TCB must
also be careful about the commands and information they accept from less trusted resources. These limitations and restrictions are built into the interfaces that permit this
type of communication to take place and are the mechanisms that enforce the security
perimeter. Communication between trusted components and untrusted components
needs to be controlled to ensure that the system stays stable and safe.
Remember when we covered CPU architectures, we went through the various rings a
CPU provides. The operating system places its software components within those rings.
The most trusted components would go inside ring 0, and the less trusted components
went into the other rings. Strict and controlled communication has to be put into place
to make sure a less trusted component does not compromise a more trusted component. This control happens through APIs. The APIs are like bouncers at bars. The bouncers only allow individuals who are safe into the bar environment and keep the others
out. This is the same idea of a security perimeter. Strict interfaces need to be put into
place to control the communication between the items within and outside the TCB.
NOTE The TCB and security perimeter are not physical entities, but
conceptual constructs used by system architects and developers to delineate
between trusted and untrusted components and how they communicate.

Reference Monitor
Up to this point we have a CPU that provides a ringed structure and an operating system that places its components in the different rings based upon the trust level of each
component. We have a defined security policy, which outlines the level of security we
want our system to provide. We have chosen the mechanisms that will enforce the security policy (TCB) and implemented security perimeters (interfaces) to make sure
these mechanisms communicate securely. Now we need to develop and implement a
mechanism that ensures that the subjects that access objects within the operating system have been given the necessary permissions to do so. This means we need to develop and implement a reference monitor.
The reference monitor is an abstract machine that mediates all access subjects have
to objects, both to ensure that the subjects have the necessary access rights and to protect the objects from unauthorized access and destructive modification. For a system to
achieve a higher level of trust, it must require subjects (programs, users, processes) to
be fully authorized prior to accessing an object (file, program, resource). A subject must
not be allowed to use a requested resource until the subject has proven it has been
granted access privileges to use the requested object. The reference monitor is an access
control concept, not an actual physical component, which is why it is normally referred
to as the “reference monitor concept” or an “abstract machine.”

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

363
A reference monitor defines the design requirements a reference validation mechanism must meet so that it can properly enforce the specifications of a system-based
access control policy. As discussed in Chapter 3, access control is made up of rules,
which specify what subjects (processes, programs, users, etc.) can communicate with
which objects (files, processes, peripheral devices, etc.) and what operations can be
performed (read, write, execute, etc.). If you think about it, almost everything that takes
place within an operating system is made up of subject-to-object communication and
it has to be tightly controlled, or the whole system could be put at risk. If the access
rules of the reference monitor are not properly enforced, a process could potentially
misuse an object, which could result in corruption or compromise.
The reference monitor provides direction on how all access control decisions should
be made and controlled in a central concerted manner within a system. Instead of having distributed components carrying out subject-to-object access decisions individually
and independently, all access decisions should be made by a core-trusted, tamperproof
component of the operating system that works within the system’s kernel, which is the
role of the security kernel.

Security Kernel
The security kernel is made up of hardware, software, and firmware components that
fall within the TCB, and it implements and enforces the reference monitor concept. The
security kernel mediates all access and functions between subjects and objects. The security kernel is the core of the TCB and is the most commonly used approach to building trusted computing systems. The security kernel has three main requirements:
• It must provide isolation for the processes carrying out the reference monitor
concept, and the processes must be tamperproof.
• It must be invoked for every access attempt and must be impossible to
circumvent. Thus, the security kernel must be implemented in a complete
and foolproof way.
• It must be small enough to be tested and verified in a complete and
comprehensive manner.
These are the requirements of the reference monitor; therefore, they are the requirements of the components that provide and enforce the reference monitor concept—the
security kernel.
These issues work in the abstract but are implemented in the physical world of
hardware devices and software code. The assurance that the components are enforcing
the abstract idea of the reference monitor is proved through testing and evaluations.
NOTE The reference monitor is a concept in which an abstract machine
mediates all access to objects by subjects. The security kernel is the hardware,
firmware, and software of a TCB that implements this concept. The TCB is
the totality of protection mechanisms within a computer system that work
together to enforce a security policy. It contains the security kernel and all
other security protection mechanisms.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

364
The following is a quick analogy to show you the relationship between the processes that make up the security kernel, the security kernel itself, and the reference
monitor concept. Individuals (processes) make up a society (security kernel). For a society to have a certain standard of living, its members must interact in specific ways,
which is why we have laws. The laws represent the reference monitor, which enforces
proper activity. Each individual is expected to stay within the bounds of the laws and
act in specific ways so society as a whole is not adversely affected and the standard of
living is not threatened. The components within a system must stay within the bounds
of the reference monitor’s laws so they will not adversely affect other components and
threaten the security of the system.
For a system to provide an acceptable level of trust, it must be based on an architecture that provides the capabilities to protect itself from untrusted processes, intentional
or accidental compromises, and attacks at different layers of the system. A majority of
the trust ratings obtained through formal evaluations require a defined subset of subjects and objects, explicit domains, and the isolation of processes so their access can be
controlled and the activities performed on them can be audited.
Let’s regroup. We know that a system’s trust is defined by how it enforces its own
security policy. When a system is tested against specific criteria, a rating is assigned to the
system and this rating is used by customers, vendors, and the computing society as a
whole. The criteria will determine if the security policy is being properly supported and
enforced. The security policy lays out the rules and practices pertaining to how a system
will manage, protect, and allow access to sensitive resources. The reference monitor is a
concept that says all subjects must have proper authorization to access objects, and this
concept is implemented by the security kernel. The security kernel comprises all the resources that supervise system activity in accordance with the system’s security policy and
is part of the operating system that controls access to system resources. For the security
kernel to work correctly, the individual processes must be isolated from each other and
domains must be defined to dictate which objects are available to which subjects.
NOTE Security policies that prevent information from flowing from a high
security level to a lower security level are called multilevel security policies.
These types of policies permit a subject to access an object only if the
subject’s security level is higher than or equal to the object’s classification.
As previously stated, many of the concepts covered in the previous sections are abstract ideas that will be manifested in physical hardware components, firmware, software code, and activities through designing, building, and implementing a system.
Operating systems implement access rights, permissions, access tokens, mandatory integrity levels, access control lists, access control entities, memory protection, sandboxes, virtualization, and more to meet the requirements of these abstract concepts.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

365
Key Terms
• Virtualization Creation of a simulated environment (hardware
platform, operating system, storage, etc.) that allows for central control
and scalability.
• Hypervisor Central program used to manage virtual machines
(guests) within a simulated environment (host).
• Security policy Strategic tool used to dictate how sensitive
information and resources are to be managed and protected.
• Trusted computing base A collection of all the hardware, software,
and firmware components within a system that provide security and
enforce the system’s security policy.
• Trusted path Trustworthy software channel that is used for
communication between two processes that cannot be circumvented.
• Security perimeter Mechanism used to delineate between the
components within and outside of the trusted computing base.
• Reference monitor Concept that defines a set of design requirements
of a reference validation mechanism (security kernel), which enforces
an access control policy over subjects’ (processes, users) ability to
perform operations (read, write, execute) on objects (files, resources)
on a system.
• Security kernel Hardware, software, and firmware components that
fall within the TCB and implement and enforce the reference monitor
concept.
• Multilevel security policies Outlines how a system can simultaneously
process information at different classifications for users with different
clearance levels.

Security Models
An important concept in the design and analysis of secure systems is the security model, because it incorporates the security policy that should be enforced in the system. A
model is a symbolic representation of a policy. It maps the desires of the policymakers
into a set of rules that a computer system must follow.
The reason this chapter has repeatedly mentioned the security policy and its importance is that it is an abstract term that represents the objectives and goals a system must

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

366
meet and accomplish to be deemed secure and acceptable. How do we get from an
abstract security policy to the point at which an administrator is able to uncheck a box
on the GUI to disallow David from accessing configuration files on his system? There
are many complex steps in between that take place during the system’s design and
development.
A security model maps the abstract goals of the policy to information system terms
by specifying explicit data structures and techniques necessary to enforce the security
policy. A security model is usually represented in mathematics and analytical ideas,
which are mapped to system specifications and then developed by programmers
through programming code. So we have a policy that encompasses security goals, such
as “each subject must be authenticated and authorized before accessing an object.” The
security model takes this requirement and provides the necessary mathematical formulas, relationships, and logic structure to be followed to accomplish this goal. From
there, specifications are developed per operating system type (Unix, Windows, Macintosh, and so on), and individual vendors can decide how they are going to implement
mechanisms that meet these necessary specifications.
So in a very general and simplistic example, if a security policy states that subjects
need to be authorized to access objects, the security model would provide the mathematical relationships and formulas explaining how x can access y only through the
outlined specific methods. Specifications are then developed to provide a bridge to
what this means in a computing environment and how it maps to components and
mechanisms that need to be coded and developed. The developers then write the program code to produce the mechanisms that provide a way for a system to use ACLs and
give administrators some degree of control. This mechanism presents the network administrator with a GUI that enables the administrator to choose (via check boxes, for
example) which subjects can access what objects and to be able to set this configuration
within the operating system. This is a rudimentary example, because security models
can be very complex, but it is used to demonstrate the relationship between the security policy and the security model.
A security policy outlines goals without regard to how they will be accomplished. A
model is a framework that gives the policy form and solves security access problems for
particular situations. Several security models have been developed to enforce security
policies. The following sections provide overviews of each model.

Relationship Between a Security Policy and a Security Model
If someone tells you to live a healthy and responsible life, this is a very broad,
vague, and abstract notion. So when you ask this person how this is accomplished, they outline the things you should and should not do (do not harm
others, do not lie, eat your vegetables, and brush your teeth). The security policy
provides the abstract goals, and the security model provides the do’s and don’ts
necessary to fulfill these goals.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

367
State Machine Models
No matter what state I am in, I am always safe.
In state machine models, to verify the security of a system, the state is used, which
means that all current permissions and all current instances of subjects accessing objects must be captured. Maintaining the state of a system deals with each subject’s association with objects. If the subjects can access objects only by means that are
concurrent with the security policy, the system is secure. A state of a system is a snapshot
of a system at one moment of time. Many activities can alter this state, which are referred to as state transitions. The developers of an operating system that will implement
the state machine model need to look at all the different state transitions that are possible and assess whether a system that starts up in a secure state can be put into an insecure state by any of these events. If all of the activities that are allowed to happen in
the system do not compromise the system and put it into an insecure state, then the
system executes a secure state machine model.
The state machine model is used to describe the behavior of a system to different
inputs. It provides mathematical constructs that represent sets (subjects and objects)
and sequences. When an object accepts an input, this modifies a state variable. A simplistic example of a state variable is (Name, Value), as shown in Figure 4-22. This variable is part of the operating system’s instruction set. When this variable is called upon
to be used, it can be populated with (Color, Red) from the input of a user or program.
Let’s say the user enters a different value, so now the variable is (Color, Blue). This is a
simplistic example of a state transition. Some state transitions are this simple, but complexity comes in when the system must decide if this transition should be allowed. To
allow this transition, the object’s security attributes and the access rights of the subject
must be reviewed and allowed by the operating system.
Developers who implement the state machine model must identify all the initial
states (default variable values) and outline how these values can be changed (inputs
that will be accepted) so the various number of final states (resulting values) still ensure
that the system is safe. The outline of how these values can be changed is often implemented through condition statements: “if condition then update.”

Formal Models
Using models in software development has not become as popular as once imagined, primarily because vendors are under pressure to get products to market as
soon as possible. Using formal models takes more time during the architectural
phase of development, extra time that many vendors feel they cannot afford.
Formal models are definitely used in the development of systems that cannot allow errors or security breaches, such as air traffic control systems, spacecraft software, railway signaling systems, military classified systems, and medical control
systems. This does not mean that these models, or portions of them, are not used
in industry products, but rather that industry vendors do not always follow these
models in the purely formal and mathematical way all the time.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

368

Figure 4-22 A simplistic example of a state change

A system that has employed a state machine model will be in a secure state in each
and every instance of its existence. It will boot up into a secure state, execute commands
and transactions securely, allow subjects to access resources only in secure states, and
shut down and fail in a secure state. Failing in a secure state is extremely important. It
is imperative that if anything unsafe takes place, the system must be able to “save itself”
and not make itself vulnerable. When an operating system displays an error message to
the user or reboots or freezes, it is executing a safety measure. The operating system has
experienced something that is deemed illegal and it cannot take care of the situation
itself, so to make sure it does not stay in this insecure state, it reacts in one of these
fashions. Thus, if an application or system freezes on you, know that it is simply the
system trying to protect itself and your data.
Several points should be considered when developing a product that uses a state
machine model. Initially, the developer must define what and where the state variables
are. In a computer environment, all data variables could independently be considered
state variables, and an inappropriate change to one could conceivably change or corrupt the system or another process’s activities. Next, the developer must define a secure
state for each state variable. The next step is to define and identify the allowable state

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

369
transition functions. These functions will describe the allowable changes that can be
made to the state variables.
After the state transition functions are defined, they must be tested to verify that the
overall machine state will not be compromised and that these transition functions will
keep the integrity of the system (computer, data, program, or process) intact at all times.

Bell-LaPadula Model
I don’t want anyone to know my secrets.
Response: We need Mr. Bell and Mr. LaPadula in here then.
In the 1970s, the U.S. military used time-sharing mainframe systems and was concerned about the security of these systems and leakage of classified information. The
Bell-LaPadula model was developed to address these concerns. It was the first mathematical model of a multilevel security policy used to define the concept of a secure state
machine and modes of access, and outlined rules of access. Its development was funded
by the U.S. government to provide a framework for computer systems that would be
used to store and process sensitive information. The model’s main goal was to prevent
secret information from being accessed in an unauthorized manner.
A system that employs the Bell-LaPadula model is called a multilevel security system
because users with different clearances use the system, and the system processes data at
different classification levels. The level at which information is classified determines
the handling procedures that should be used. The Bell-LaPadula model is a state machine model that enforces the confidentiality aspects of access control. A matrix and
security levels are used to determine if subjects can access different objects. The subject’s clearance is compared to the object’s classification and then specific rules are applied to control how subject-to-object interactions can take place.
This model uses subjects, objects, access operations (read, write, and read/write),
and security levels. Subjects and objects can reside at different security levels and will
have relationships and rules dictating the acceptable activities between them. This
model, when properly implemented and enforced, has been mathematically proven to
provide a very secure and effective operating system. It is also considered to be an information-flow security model, which means that information does not flow in an insecure manner.
The Bell-LaPadula model is a subject-to-object model. An example would be how
you (subject) could read a data element (object) from a specific database and write data
into that database. The Bell-LaPadula model focuses on ensuring that subjects are properly authenticated—by having the necessary security clearance, need to know, and formal access approval—before accessing an object.
Three main rules are used and enforced in the Bell-LaPadula model: the simple security rule, the *-property (star property) rule, and the strong star property rule. The
simple security rule states that a subject at a given security level cannot read data that
reside at a higher security level. For example, if Bob is given the security clearance of
secret, this rule states he cannot read data classified as top secret. If the organization
wanted Bob to be able to read top-secret data, it would have given him that clearance
in the first place.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

370
The *-property rule (star property rule) states that a subject in a given security level
cannot write information to a lower security level. The simple security rule is referred to
as the “no read up” rule, and the *-property rule is referred to as the “no write down”
rule. The third rule, the strong star property rule, states that a subject that has read and
write capabilities can only perform those functions at the same security level; nothing
higher and nothing lower. So, for a subject to be able to read and write to an object, the
clearance and classification must be equal.
These three rules indicate what states the system can go into. Remember that a state
is the values of the variables in the software at a snapshot in time. If a subject has performed a read operation on an object at a lower security level, the subject now has a
variable that is populated with the data that was read, or copied, into its variable. If
a subject has written to an object at a higher security level, the subject has modified a
variable within that object’s domain.
NOTE In access control terms, the word dominate means to be higher than
or equal to. So if you see a statement such as “A subject can only perform a
read operation if the access class of the subject dominates the access class
of an object,” this just means the subject must have a clearance that is higher
than or equal to the object. In the Bell-LaPadula model, this is referred to as
the dominance relation, which is the relationship of the subject’s clearance to
the object’s classification.
The state of a system changes as different operations take place. The Bell-LaPadula
model defines a secure state, meaning a secure computing environment and the allowed actions, which are security-preserving operations. This means the model provides a secure state and only permits operations that will keep the system within a
secure state and not let it enter into an insecure state. So if 100 people access 2,000
objects in a day using this one system, this system is put through a lot of work and several complex activities must take place. However, at the end of the day, the system is just
as secure as it was at the beginning of the day. This is the definition of the Basic Security
Theorem used in computer science, which states that if a system initializes in a secure
state and all allowed state transitions are secure, then every subsequent state will be
secure no matter what inputs occur.
NOTE The tranquility principle, which is also used in this model, means that
subjects’ and objects’ security levels cannot change in a manner that violates
the security policy.
An important thing to note is that the Bell-LaPadula model was developed to make
sure secrets stay secret; thus, it provides and addresses confidentiality only. This model
does not address the integrity of the data the system maintains—only who can and cannot access the data and what operations can be carried out.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

371
NOTE Ensuring that information does not flow from a higher security
level to a lower level is referred to as controlling unauthorized downgrading of
information, which would take place through a “write down” operation. An
actual compromise occurs if and when a user at a lower security level reads
this data.
So what does this mean and why does it matter? Chapter 3 discussed mandatory
access control (MAC) systems versus discretionary access control (DAC) systems. All
MAC systems are based on the Bell-LaPadula model, because it allows for multilevel
security to be integrated into the code. Subjects and objects are assigned labels. The
subject’s label contains its clearance label (top secret, secret, or confidential) and the
object’s label contains its classification label (top secret, secret, or confidential). When
a subject attempts to access an object, the system compares the subject’s clearance label
and the object’s classification label and looks at a matrix to see if this is a legal and secure activity. In our scenario, it is a perfectly fine activity, and the subject is given access
to the object. Now, if the subject’s clearance label is top secret and the object’s classification label is secret, the subject cannot write to this object, because of the *-property
rule, which makes sure that subjects cannot accidentally or intentionally share confidential information by writing to an object at a lower security level. As an example,
suppose that a busy and clumsy general (who has top-secret clearance) in the Army
opens up a briefing letter (which has a secret classification) that will go to all clerks at
all bases around the world. He attempts to write that the United States is attacking
Cuba. The Bell-LaPadula model will come into action and not permit this general to
write this information to this type of file because his clearance is higher than that of the
memo.
Likewise, if a nosey military staff clerk tried to read a memo that was available only
to generals and above, the Bell-LaPadula model would stop this activity. The clerk’s
clearance is lower than that of the object (the memo), and this violates the simple security rule of the model. It is all about keeping secrets secret.
NOTE It is important that MAC operating systems and MAC databases
follow these rules. In Chapter 10, we will look at how databases can follow
these rules by the use of polyinstantiation.

CAUTION You may run into the Bell-LaPadula rule called Discretionary
Security Property (ds-property), which is another property of this model.
This rule is based on named subjects and objects. It dictates that specific
permissions allow a subject to pass on permissions at its own discretion.
These permissions are stored in an access matrix. This just means that
mandatory and discretionary access control mechanisms can be implemented
in one operating system.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

372
Rules to Know
The main rules of the Bell-LaPadula model are:
• Simple security rule A subject cannot read data within an object that
resides at a higher security level (the “no read up” rule).
• *- property rule A subject cannot write to an object at a lower security
level (the “no write down” rule).
• Strong star property rule For a subject to be able to read and write to an
object, the subject’s clearance and the object’s classification must be equal.

Biba Model
The Biba model was developed after the Bell-LaPadula model. It is a state machine
model similar to the Bell-LaPadula model. Biba addresses the integrity of data within
applications. The Bell-LaPadula model uses a lattice of security levels (top secret, secret,
sensitive, and so on). These security levels were developed mainly to ensure that sensitive data were only available to authorized individuals. The Biba model is not concerned with security levels and confidentiality, so it does not base access decisions upon
this type of lattice. Instead, the Biba model uses a lattice of integrity levels.
If implemented and enforced properly, the Biba model prevents data from any integrity level from flowing to a higher integrity level. Biba has three main rules to provide
this type of protection:
• *-integrity axiom A subject cannot write data to an object at a higher
integrity level (referred to as “no write up”).
• Simple integrity axiom A subject cannot read data from a lower integrity
level (referred to as “no read down”).
• Invocation property A subject cannot request service (invoke) of higher
integrity.
The name “simple integrity axiom” might sound a little goofy, but this rule protects
the data at a higher integrity level from being corrupted by data at a lower integrity
level. This is all about trusting the source of the information. Another way to look at it
is that trusted data are “clean” data, and untrusted data (from a lower integrity level) are
“dirty” data. Dirty data should not be mixed with clean data, because that could ruin
the integrity of the clean data.
The simple integrity axiom applies not only to users creating the data, but also to
processes. A process of lower integrity should not be writing to trusted data of a higher
integrity level. The areas of the different integrity levels are compartmentalized within
the application that is based on the Biba model.
An analogy would be if you were writing an article for The New York Times about the
security trends over the last year, the amount of money businesses lost, and the cost/
benefit ratio of implementing firewalls, IDS, and vulnerability scanners. You do not

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

373
want to get your data and numbers from any old website without knowing how those
figures were calculated and the sources of the information. Your article (data at a higher integrity level) can be compromised if mixed with unfounded information from a
bad source (data at a lower integrity level).
When you are first learning about the Bell-LaPadula and Biba models, they may
seem similar and the reasons for their differences may be somewhat confusing. The
Bell-LaPadula model was written for the U.S. government, and the government is very
paranoid about leakage of its secret information. In its model, a user cannot write to a
lower level because that user might let out some secrets. Similarly, a user at a lower
level cannot read anything at a higher level because that user might learn some secrets.
However, not everyone is so worried about confidentiality and has such big important
secrets to protect. The commercial industry is concerned about the integrity of its data.
An accounting firm might be more worried about keeping its numbers straight and
making sure decimal points are not dropped or extra zeroes are not added in a process
carried out by an application. The accounting firm is more concerned about the integrity of these data and is usually under little threat of someone trying to steal these
numbers, so the firm would use software that employs the Biba model. Of course, the
accounting firm does not look for the name Biba on the back of a product or make sure
it is in the design of its application. Which model to use is something that was decided
upon and implemented when the application was being designed. The assurance ratings are what consumers use to determine if a system is right for them. So, even if the
accountants are using an application that employs the Biba model, they would not
necessarily know (and we’re not going to tell them).
As mentioned earlier, the invocation property in the Biba model states that a subject
cannot invoke (call upon) a subject at a higher integrity level. Well, how is this different
from the other two Biba rules? The *-integrity axiom (no write up) dictates how subjects
can modify objects. The simple integrity axiom (no read down) dictates how subjects can
read objects. The invocation property dictates how one subject can communicate with
and initialize other subjects at run time. An example of a subject invoking another subject is when a process sends a request to a procedure to carry out some type of task.
Subjects are only allowed to invoke tools at a lower integrity level. With the invocation
property, the system is making sure a dirty subject cannot invoke a clean tool to contaminate a clean object.

Bell-LaPadula vs. Biba
The Bell-LaPadula model is used to provide confidentiality. The Biba model is used
to provide integrity. The Bell-LaPadula and Biba models are informational flow
models because they are most concerned about data flowing from one level to another. Bell-LaPadula uses security levels, and Biba uses integrity levels. It is important for CISSP test takers to know the rules of Biba and Bell-LaPadula. Their rules
sound similar: simple and * rules—one writing one way and one reading another
way. A tip for how to remember them is that if the word “simple” is used, the rule
is talking about reading. If the rule uses * or “star,” it is talking about writing. So
now you just need to remember the reading and writing directions per model.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

374
Clark-Wilson Model
The Clark-Wilson model was developed after Biba and takes some different approaches
to protecting the integrity of information. This model uses the following elements:
• Users

Active agents

• Transformation procedures (TPs) Programmed abstract operations, such as
read, write, and modify
• Constrained data items (CDIs) Can be manipulated only by TPs
• Unconstrained data items (UDIs) Can be manipulated by users via
primitive read and write operations
• Integrity verification procedures (IVPs) Check the consistency of CDIs with
external reality
Although this list may look overwhelming, it is really quite straightforward. When
an application uses the Clark-Wilson model, it separates data into one subset that
needs to be highly protected, which is referred to as a constrained data item (CDI), and
another subset that does not require a high level of protection, which is called an unconstrained data item (UDI). Users cannot modify critical data (CDI) directly. Instead,
the subject (user) must be authenticated to a piece of software, and the software procedures (TPs) will carry out the operations on behalf of the user. For example, when Kathy
needs to update information held within her company’s database, she will not be allowed to do so without a piece of software controlling these activities. First, Kathy must
authenticate to a program, which is acting as a front end for the database, and then the
program will control what Kathy can and cannot do to the information in the database.
This is referred to as access triple: subject (user), program (TP), and object (CDI). A user
cannot modify CDI without using a TP.
So, Kathy is going to input data, which is supposed to overwrite some original data
in the database. The software (TP) has to make sure this type of activity is secure and
will carry out the write procedures for Kathy. Kathy (and any type of subject) is not
trusted enough to manipulate objects directly.
The CDI must have its integrity protected by the TPs. The UDI does not require such
a high level of protection. For example, if Kathy did her banking online, the data on her
bank’s servers and databases would be split into UDI and CDI categories. The CDI category would contain her banking account information, which needs to be highly protected. The UDI data could be her customer profile, which she can update as needed.
TPs would not be required when Kathy needed to update her UDI information.
In some cases, a system may need to change UDI data into CDI data. For example,
when Kathy updates her customer profile via the website to show her new correct address, this information will need to be moved into the banking software that is responsible for mailing out bank account information. The bank would not want Kathy to
interact directly with that banking software, so a piece of software (TP) is responsible
for copying that data and updating this customer’s mailing address. At this stage, the TP
is changing the state of the UDI data to CDI. These concepts are shown in Figure 4-23.

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

375

Figure 4-23 Subjects cannot modify CDI without using TP.

Remember that this is an integrity model, so it must have something that ensures that
specific integrity rules are being carried out. This is the job of the IVP. The IVP ensures
that all critical data (CDI) manipulation follow the application’s defined integrity rules.
What usually turns people’s minds into spaghetti when they are first learning about
models is that models are theoretical and abstract. Thus, when they ask the common
question, “What are these defined integrity rules that the IVP must comply with?” they
are told, “Whatever the vendor chooses them to be.”
A model is made up of constructs, mathematical formulas, and other PhD kinds of
stuff. The model provides the framework that can be used to build a certain characteristic into software (confidentiality, integrity). So the model does not stipulate what
specific integrity rules the IVP must enforce; it just provides the framework, and the
vendor defines the integrity rules that best fits its product’s requirements. The vendor
implements integrity rules that its customer base needs the most. So if a vendor is developing an application for a financial institution, the UDI could be customer profiles
that they are allowed to update and the CDI could be the bank account information,
usually held on a centralized database. The UDI data do not need to be as highly protected and can be located on the same system or another system. A user can have access
to UDI data without the use of a TP, but when the user needs to access CDI, they must
use TP. So the vendor who develops the product will determine what type of data is
considered UDI and what type of data is CDI and develop the TPs to control and orchestrate how the software enforces the integrity of the CDI values.
In a banking application, the IVP would ensure that the CDI represents the correct
value. For example, if Kathy has $2,000 in her account and then deposits $50, the CDI for
her account should now have a value of $2,050. The IVP ensures the consistency of the
data. So after Kathy carries out this transaction and the IVP validates the integrity of
the CDI (new bank account value is correct), then the CDI is considered to be in a consistent state. TPs are the only components allowed to modify the state of the CDIs. In our
example, TPs would be software procedures that carry out deposit, withdrawal, and transfer functionalities. Using TPs to modify CDIs is referred to as a well-formed transaction.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

376
A well-formed transaction is a series of operations that are carried out to transfer the
data from one consistent state to the other. If Kathy transfers money from her checking
account to her savings account, this transaction is made up of two operations: subtract
money from one account and add it to a different account. By making sure the new
values in her checking and savings accounts are accurate and their integrity is intact, the
IVP maintains internal and external consistency. The Clark-Wilson model also outlines
how to incorporate separation of duties into the architecture of an application. If we
follow our same example of banking software, if a customer needs to withdraw over
$10,000, the application may require a supervisor to log in and authenticate this transaction. This is a countermeasure against potential fraudulent activities. The model provides the rules that the developers must follow to properly implement and enforce
separation of duties through software procedures.

Goals of Integrity Models
The following are the three main goals of integrity models:
• Prevent unauthorized users from making modifications
• Prevent authorized users from making improper modifications (separation
of duties)
• Maintain internal and external consistency (well-formed transaction)

Chapter 4: Security Architecture and Design

377
Clark-Wilson addresses each of these goals in its model. Biba only addresses the
first goal.
Internal and external consistency is provided by the IVP, which ensures that what is
stored in the system as CDI properly maps to the input value that modified its state. So
if Kathy has $2,500 in her account and she withdraws $2,000, the resulting value in the
CDI is $500.
To summarize, the Clark-Wilson model enforces the three goals of integrity by using access triple (subject, software [TP], object), separation of duties, and auditing. This
model enforces integrity by using well-formed transactions (through access triple) and
separation of duties.
NOTE Many people find these security models confusing because they do
not interact with them directly. A software architect chooses the model that
will provide the rules he needs to follow to implement a certain type of
security (confidentiality, integrity). A building architect will follow the model
(framework) that will provide the rules he needs to follow to implement a
certain type of building (office, home, bridge).

Information Flow Model
Now, which way is the information flowing in this system?
Response: Not to you.
The Bell-LaPadula model focuses on preventing information from flowing from a
high security level to a low security level. The Biba model focuses on preventing information from flowing from a low integrity level to a high integrity level. Both of these
models were built upon the information flow model. Information flow models can deal
with any kind of information flow, not only from one security (or integrity) level to
another.
In the information flow model, data are thought of as being held in individual and
discrete compartments. In the Bell-LaPadula model, these compartments are based on
security levels. Remember that MAC systems (which you learned about in Chapter 3)
are based on the Bell-LaPadula model. MAC systems use labels on each subject and
object. The subject’s label indicates the subject’s clearance and need to know. The object’s label indicates the object’s classification and categories. If you are in the Army and
have a top-secret clearance, this does not mean you can access all of the Army’s top-secret information. Information is compartmentalized based on two factors—classification
and need to know. Your clearance has to dominate the object’s classification and your
security profile must contain one of the categories listed in the object’s label, which
enforces need to know. So Bell-LaPadula is an information flow model that ensures
that information cannot flow from one compartment to another in a way that threatens
the confidentiality of the data. Biba compartmentalizes data based on integrity levels.
It is a model that controls information flow in a way that is intended to protect the
integrity of the most trusted information.

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide

378
How can information flow within a system? The answer is in many ways. Subjects
can access files. Processes can access memory segments. When data are moved from the
hard drive’s swap space into memory, information flows. Data are moved into and out
of registers on a CPU. Data are moved into different cache memory storage devices.
Data are written to the hard drive, thumb drive, CD-ROM drive, and so on. Properly
controlling all of these ways of how information flows can be a very complex task. This
is why the information flow model exists—to help architects and developers make sure
their software does not allow information to flow in a way that can put the system or
data in danger. One way that the information flow model provides this type of protection is by ensuring that covert channels do not exist in the code.

Covert Channels
I have my decoder ring, cape, and pirate’s hat on. I will communicate t