Vulnerability Assessment Remediation

Vulnerability Assessment Remediation

The external threat environment has become quieter and much more dangerous. Today’s attacks target specific companies, individuals and data. A typical targeted attack will exploit multiple security weaknesses to achieve the ultimate goal — usually, to steal sensitive data, compromise a specific account or disrupt operations.

Organizations need to present a hardened defensible target to an attacker in addition to the ability to detect and contain. This requires a combination of vulnerability assessment and management processes to find and fix security weaknesses in systems and applications, and the implementation of compensating controls or shielding technologies to protect more legacy systems and applications that will have long-standing vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability Process

In the Security Assessment Series this blog discusses more tactical and reactive vulnerability assessment and remediation while the next blog in the series will cover strategic and more proactive vulnerability and risk management.

Vulnerability Assessment versus Penetration Tests

Over 25 years I have performed hundreds and hundreds of security assessments for organizations, many of those have been vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. In my experience many organizations seek a penetration test when they really need to perform a vulnerability assessment and address those issues before progressing onto a penetration test. I am often asked to perform a penetration test yet discover the environment is not hardened and suffers from many basic flaws. While a penetration test sounds exciting there are key differences.

Vulnerability Maze

A Vulnerability Assessment is designed to allow an organization to identify all of the potential vulnerabilities, validate them, prioritize them based on scores, such as the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) for all CVE vulnerabilities (provided by the National Vulnerability Database) and, create a prioritized list for remediation. The scope is broad across many external and/or internal systems. Root cause analysis may be warranted to understand why the vulnerabilities exist and what processes need addressing to resolve fully. These are more tool-based tasks and seek to identify as many potential issues as possible.

Vulnerability assessments typically follow these general steps:

  1. Catalog assets and resources in a system
  2. Assign value and importance to the resources
  3. Identify vulnerabilities or potential threats
  4. Mitigate or eliminate most serious vulnerabilities

A Penetration Test is either focused on a hardened and locked down environment or a specific platform or service that an organization wants validation to ensure nothing was missed or if there is a yet un-discovered flaw or vulnerability. They are often used as a pre-production validation for sensitive systems or to assess what can be achieved with a mix of advanced threats and social engineering. These leverage more manual methods and will report out on the path the attacker took and the creative exploits used to ‘capture the flag’.

Penetration tests typically follow these steps:

  1. Determination of scope and target(s)
  2. Information gathering or reconnaissance
  3. Exploitation attempts for access and escalation
  4. Sensitive data collection and ex-filtration testing
  5. Clean up, evidence collection and reporting

As part of an emerging and evolving network security program organizations should deploy a vulnerability assessment and phased remediation strategy that makes practical sense to address the current and tactical vulnerability landscape and, in parallel evolve that towards a more comprehensive and proactive vulnerability and risk management strategy.

Vulnerability Landscape

During a vulnerability assessment it is possible to discover many vulnerabilities and the sheer volume of data can quickly become overwhelming. This blog proposes a practical and simplified process to get you started, focused on asset inventory and classification to profile the vulnerabilities and thus enable the appropriate prioritization and scheduling of remediation actions.

Remediation StepsInventory

Taking a complete inventory of the basic makeup of the organization’s network is a critical first step. The second thing is to actually inventory all the mission critical and/or enterprise applications being used. I typically recommend that an Asset Inventory is developed that contains a list of all of the approved assets, services, interfaces, connections and, so on. While this may not be possible in all cases it is extremely important for external accessible services as well as mission critical or core services. This will be covered more fully in a future blog on Application Architecture Taxonomy.

  • Inventory –
    • Inventory Network Infrastructure
    • Inventory Applications and Services
      • Identify Device Roles/Groups
      • Service Dependency Mapping
        • Organization Function
        • Service Group
          • Applications
          • Ports
          • Relationships

Classification Asset classification, based on criticality and sensitivity enables the determination and priority of the application of security configuration standards and remediation actions. For example, assets that are in production should conform to all of the applicable security standards as part of deployment and maintenance and critical and/or sensitive assets are prioritized. A future blog will take a deep-dive into data classification.

  • Classification –
    • Category –
      • R&D
      • Staging
      • Production
      • Mission Critical
    • Classification –
      • Restricted
      • Trusted
      • Internal
      • Public


Ideally, the identification phase should occur during the architecture and design phase (e.g., via security sign-off criteria), immediately prior to the equipment becoming operational (e.g., as a step in the release management process), and at regular intervals throughout the operational life of the infrastructure. Identification and, to some extent, assessment come from activities such as vulnerability scanning and penetration testing – of which this blog provides a foundation and an opportunity to develop a practical methodology and process.

Nessus Sample


Assessment requires knowledge of the technical implications of the weakness, and also of the business implications of the exploitation of the weakness. The risk owner must then make a decision regarding acceptance of the risk, remedial action to fix the weakness or transformation of the risk into another form.

  • Assessment –
    • Evaluate Vulnerability Risk
      • Accept
      • Avoid
      • Mitigate
      • Transfer

Vulnerability Profile

It is a normal practice to rationalize a set of reported vulnerabilities into groups that are accepted but documented, those that have mitigating controls and, those that are mitigated with a solution.


Remediation may range from detailed bottom-up technical measures, such as the application of patches, or changes to the configuration of firewalls or other network-based vulnerability protection infrastructure, through changes to custom-made applications, right up to very high-level measures, such as changes to governing policy, processes and procedures or configuration standards.

  • Remediation –
    • Create Remediation Task Map
      • Action Plan:
        • Budget
        • Resources
        • Priority
        • Timing
          • Immediate
          • 30 Days
          • 6 Months
          • Future
      • Typical Actions:
        • Patch
        • Upgrade
        • Configuration Standards Rollout [by Role]
        • Infrastructure Refresh
        • New Deployment



Reporting metrics should include frequency of identification exercises (e.g., regular vulnerability reports), and results from identification and assessment, including the number of issues and accumulated risks, and the tracking of remediation actions. In a future blog we will expand this to include the use of a risk register and tracking in the Risk Management blog to report upwards to executive management.

  • Reporting –
    • Metrics and Trends:
      • Number of issues
      • Accumulated risks
      • Tracking remediation actions


The next blog in the Security Assessment Series will develop this theme further to cover more proactive Vulnerability Management Strategy. Once the organization becomes more secure it can evolve to stay more secure.

Thanks for your interest!

Nige the Security Guy.


ISO 27002 Security Benchmark

ISO 27002 Security Benchmark

Information security plays an increasingly crucial role in protecting the assets of an organization. As no single formula can ever guarantee 100% security, there is a need for a set of benchmarks or standards to help ensure an adequate level of security is attained, resources are used efficiently, and the best security practices are adopted. This blog illustrates a basic methodology to perform an ISO 27002 Security Benchmark and how to evolve towards compliance and become increasingly secure = integration with a Capability Maturity Model (CMM).


What are the Benefits?

ISO 27002 provides organizations with the assurance of knowing that they are protecting their information assets using criteria in harmonization with an internationally recognized standard. Benefits are applicable to organizations of all sizes and all security maturity levels, not only large enterprises.

Organizations with superior IT governance have more than 25% higher profits than those with poor governance
given the same strategic objectives. These top performers have custom-designed IT governance for their strategies.

ISO 27002 compliance can provide many benefits:

  • Provides a framework for resolving security issues
  • Provides policies & procedures in accordance with internationally recognized criteria, structure and methodology
  • Enhances client confidence & perception of your organization
  • Enhances business partners’ confidence & perception of your organization
  • Provides confidence that you have minimized risk in your own security program
  • Can be a deciding differentiator in contract negotiations
  • Enhances security awareness within an organization
  • Assists in the development of best practice
  • A defined process for implementation, management, maintenance and ISMS evaluation
  • Evaluations conducted by impartial independent and objective assessors using a proven methodology
  • A performance yardstick to harmonized criteria resulting in mutual recognition
  • Optimized security delivers lower costs: fraud, inefficiency and errors should be reduced
  • May reduce insurance premiums
  • Compliance advantages for participation in Global business opportunities

Leveraging internationally renowned security standards not only allows organizations to seek a reasonable goal of due-diligence but also enables them to articulate security posture to external partners and customers.

ISO 27000 Standards Family

ISO/IEC 27001, part of the growing ISO/IEC 27000 family of standards, is an Information Security Management System (ISMS) standard published in October 2005 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC). An Information Security Management System is a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information so that it remains secure. It encompasses people, processes and IT systems.

ISO/IEC 27002 is a Code of Practice for Information Security Management standard. It provides best practice recommendations on information security management for use by those responsible for initiating, implementing or maintaining information security management systems (ISMS). The Code of Practice establishes guidelines and general principles for initiating, implementing, maintaining, and improving information security management in an organization.

ISO 27002 Scope

Within the Code of Practice there are a set of security domains, as follows:

  • Risk assessment – see blog Risk Assessment and Roadmap
  • Security policy – management direction
  • Organization of information security – governance of information security
  • Asset management – inventory and classification of information assets
  • Human resources security – security aspects for employees joining, moving and leaving an organization
  • Physical and environmental security – protection of the computer facilities
  • Communications and operations management – management of technical security controls in systems and networks
  • Access control – restriction of access rights to networks, systems, applications, functions and data
  • Information systems acquisition, development and maintenance – building security into applications
  • Information security incident management – anticipating and responding appropriately to information security breaches
  • Business continuity management – protecting, maintaining and recovering business-critical processes and systems
  • Compliance – ensuring conformance with information security policies, standards, laws and regulations

These security domains contain control objectives with hundreds of best-practice information security control measures recommended for organizations to satisfy the control objectives and protect information assets against threats to confidentiality, integrity and availability.

Capability Maturity Model (CMM)

A Capability Maturity Model (CMM) is a model for judging the maturity of the processes of an organization and for identifying the key practices that are required to increase the maturity of these processes. The idea behind a Security CMM is to define areas of a security program that should have policy. procedures, processes and controls associated with them and then to measure the application and effectiveness of the policy. procedures, processes and controls (capability level) in an organization. A more mature organization is defined as one whose processes are better defined, integrated and managed. Such an organization is said to have a higher capability level than a less mature organization.

The Security CMM defines five capability levels:

Security CMM

ISO 27002 Benchmark

There are many tools and templates available that can help an organization to benchmark their current state towards ISO 27002 compliance. In our case we developed an Excel macro-based tool that factors both ISO 27002 controls as well as maps them to CMM. The user simply makes selections based upon drop-down boxes and adds comments on any observations. See the ISO 27002 Benchmark Visualization Tool sample below:

ISO 27002 Tool

The tool is used in interactive sessions with IT to discuss the various domains and controls of ISO 27002 and their current state in terms of development, implementation, integration and, maturity. The results are summarized in the checklist as well as the controls are validated to ensure accuracy. Once the exercise has been completed for all sections within ISO 27002 then the macros can be executed. They operate against a default template report in our case to auto-generate the report and enable an efficient and rapid benchmark. The deliverable report is then further developed with placeholder sections to customize and add expertise, industry trends and best-practices to management. An extract of the raw report is shown below.

ISO 27002 Report

The tool additionally auto-generates ISO 27002 Security Benchmark Executive Summary slides that further enable presentation and visualization to executive management on current state as well as the organization’s objectives, enabling ongoing justification and support for the cost and resources needed for the security management and improvement program. The following is a sample of a high-level graph that maps compliance to organizational objectives and CMM.

ISO 27002 Visualization

“Security is not a product, it is the ever evolving integration of solutions and process based upon
industry standards, proven methodology and, best practices.” Nigel Willson

ISO Scorecard 2

ISO 27002 Compliance Lifecycle

Once the organization has performed an initial Baseline Benchmark then the results can be evolved into an on-going lifecycle benchmark process and ISO 27002 compliance measurement program. Performing benchmarks quickly and efficiently reduces the burden and enables timely reporting on progress, depending upon organization’s size that is quarterly, bi-annually or, annually. It can be used to demonstrate progress and trends in what has been achieved and what is left to do. The following is a high-level example ISO 27002 Compliance Lifecycle.

  • Baseline Benchmark – Assess the status of security management processes and controls
  • Regular Checkpoints – Perform periodic health checks to compare and contrast improvement and compliance progress
  • Identify Gap – Use gap analysis to identify the divergence of current state security against the standard goal
  • Statement of Applicability (SOA) – Describe the relevance of the standard’s controls to your organization
  • Security Improvement Program (SIP) – Develop cyclic process to recommend the measures required to overcome the divergence identified in the gap analysis

Critical Success Factors

Experience has shown that the following factors are often critical to the successful implementation of information security within an organization:

  • Information security policy, objectives, and activities that reflect business objectives
  • An approach and framework to implementing, maintaining, monitoring, and improving information security that is consistent with the organizational culture
  • Visible support and commitment from all levels of management
  • A good understanding of information security requirements, through the use of risk assessments, and risk management
  • Effective marketing of information security to all managers, employees, and other parties to achieve awareness and ultimately compliance
  • Distribution of guidance on information security policy and standards to all managers, employees and other parties
  • Provision to fund information security management activities
  • Providing appropriate awareness, training, and education
  • Establishing an effective information security incident management process
  • Implementation of a measurement system used to evaluate performance in information security management and feed back data for improvement.



Management support is necessary at all levels. User awareness programs should also be conducted to ensure that all employees understand the benefits and impacts before the deployment of new security policies and guidelines.

A common problem that crops up after implementation of a standards alignment exercise is an increase in the number of complaints received from users of IT services due to the restrictions imposed by new security controls. The successful implementation of any information security standards or controls must be a balance of security requirements, functional requirements and user requirements.

Stop Think

Although there are a number of information security standards available, an organization can only benefit if those standards are implemented properly. Security is something that all parties should be involved in. Senior management, information security practitioners, IT professionals and users all have a role to play in securing the assets of an organization. The success of information security can only be achieved by full cooperation at all levels of an organization, both inside and outside.

Thanks for your interest!

Nige the Security Guy.

Risk Assessment and Roadmap

Risk Assessment & Security Roadmap

With benchmarking data collected from the Security Health Check – Snapshot Assessment task it is time to chart a course. Strategic planning must focus on relevant, practical, and proportional recommendations. This Risk Assessment and Security Roadmap blog can enable organizations to:

Establish Coordinates –

  • Pinpoint your Business Requirements
  • Create your Security Risk Profile

Harmonize –

  • Integrate Regulatory, Legal and, Policy Drivers
  • Identify Organization Stakeholders and Seek Consensus

Chart your Course –

  • Develop a Security Roadmap
  • Deliver Prioritized Action Plans

Chart Course

The Need for a Solid Risk Assessment Program

Meeting today’s numerous information security regulations is one of the most challenging and complex issues facing corporate IT today. The increased frequency of security incidents, including well publicized breaches, has resulted in new legislation at both the federal and state level.

Fundamental to meeting these regulations, including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Sarbanes-Oxley are regularly scheduled risk assessments. Each of these regulations holds organizations accountable for the protection of private information and requires risk assessments as one component of an effective security program.

Now, more than ever, organizations need a complete understanding of the impact of regulations on their core business and the need for third party risk assessments to comply with these regulations.

When harmonized with security policy the most fiscally responsible and secure infrastructure is driven from the top with clear strategic justification, prioritization, and timing.

The first step in developing a proactive IT Security Governance program is the risk assessment. The risk assessment identifies and prioritizes risks to enterprises via networks and information systems. Risk assessment is the foundation for developing risk management strategies within an organization. Organizations should use a practical methodology which identifies the assets that support business operations, the vulnerabilities, and the threats to those assets.

Risk is present at the union of:

  • Assets,
  • Threats,
  • Vulnerabilities

Assets Risks Threats

Our methodology consists of information gathering to determine the current state, analysis of information, and the development of a security roadmap

Information Gathering

The information gathering process focuses on the three key risk components: assets, vulnerabilities, and threats. The approach is asset-centric, meaning the risk assessment begins with the identification of assets and the value/criticality of assets that are central to business operations. Threats which could impact these assets are identified and assessed. Finally, vulnerabilities that may be present on the asset controls are examined to determine the likelihood of impact.

The information gathering phase typically consists of interviews with business managers and technical staff and review of documentation relating to information security and assets (including network topology). Technical vulnerability assessment results can be used to enhance the accuracy of initial risk assessment results, leveraging Common Vulnerabilities & Exposure CVE) together with the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS).

Asset Identification

The goal of a risk assessment is to identify the risk to critical business operations. The first step in the risk assessment is to identify the assets that support critical business operations. These assets could include physical and logical assets such as data center systems, employee computers, network communications devices and channels, remote work areas such as employee’s home computers, customer data, employee data, and intellectual property.

The key critical and sensitive assets that support business areas are identified through documentation review and interviews of business managers and select technical staff, identifying:

  • Physical assets and locations
  • Asset ownership and classification
  • Network and logical connectivity
  • Software (OS and application)
  • Data flow throughout the network

Questions during the interview also focus on how the information technology assets are utilized by all types of system users – administrators, customers, employees, etc. This allows a profile to be built of Application Roles and Relationships and User Roles and Relationships. Assets are then ranked based on their value to operations.

On a scale of 1 to 4, asset value will be ranked as follows:

  1. Catastrophic – catastrophic failure is possible if the asset is destroyed / compromised.
  2. Critical – the asset is considered “mission critical” to business operations.
  3. Marginal – the asset marginally affects business operations; some degradation of service is likely if the asset is destroyed / compromised.
  4. Negligible – destruction / compromise of the asset will have a negligible effect on business operations.

Vulnerability Assessment

Threats cannot impact assets unless the assets are vulnerable to the specific threats. Security mitigating controls may be in place, reducing the likelihood of a threat exploiting a given asset. Understanding the types of vulnerabilities that exist on critical assets is a key step in the risk assessment.

Risk Framework

Comprehensive information security programs require that every asset have protective measures in the areas of:

  • Protection
  • Detection
  • Containment
  • Eradication
  • Recovery

Preventative measures reduce the likelihood of exploitation. The ability to detect and respond to incidents allows an organization to minimize losses in the event of exploitation. Furthermore, effective detection and response provides a deterrent to exploitation attempts.

Vulnerabilities can be identified based upon the degree of protective measures in the areas of prevention, detection, and response. For each critical asset, identify the status of compensating or mitigating controls in place. A few examples of areas to evaluate include:


  • Security policies and procedures
  • Network and application architecture
  • Software version and patch level
  • Network segmentation and access controls
  • Authentication/authorization mechanisms
  • Security awareness program


  • Network intrusion detection capabilities
  • Host intrusion detection capabilities
  • Incident reporting policy and processes


  • Incident response program capabilities
  • Response policies and process
  • System back-up and recovery capabilities

Vulnerabilities that affect critical assets are discovered through interviews, documentation review, and technical analysis and validation testing. Vulnerabilities are classified based on their severity. Severity identifies the exposure of an asset:

  • High – vulnerability which allows threat to control/destroy an asset.
  • Medium – vulnerability which allows threat to compromise/access an asset.
  • Low – vulnerability which provides threat information which could be used to compromise an asset.

For each critical asset identified during the asset identification phase, identified vulnerabilities are noted and classified.

The more accurate the vulnerability assessment, the more accurate the risk assessment will be. The assets and threats that support and impact business operations tend to change much less frequently than the vulnerability analysis. New vulnerabilities, changes in technology, and user/administrator introduced issues all contribute to a dynamic vulnerability environment. Areas identified through this high level vulnerability assessment are candidates for a detailed, technical assessment.

Threat Identification

Threats are individuals, groups, or external events which can impact assets. Threats can take many forms, including people (such as insiders or Internet users), technology (such as worms or Trojans), and events (such as flood or fire). The project team works with the enterprise to identify the threats that may impact identified assets. To ensure that all credible threats are considered maintain a list of various threat types.

Our approach to threat identification is based on threat modeling – building scenarios that reflect possible events. Each asset is analyzed from the perspective of the impact (liability) of various threats scenarios. Examples of impact produced by threats include:

  • Direct costs from physical destruction / loss
  • Direct costs from theft / extortion
  • Costs to resolve incidents (internal productivity loss, outside resources)
  • Loss of consumer confidence
  • Failure to meet regulatory requirements
  • Failure to meet contractual agreements
  • Worst case scenarios (catastrophic failures of information systems that result in physical destruction, death, injury, or an inability to continue operations)

The scenarios listed above can only happen if a threat impacts an asset that has a vulnerability. However, understanding how the threats might impact an enterprise’s business is an important step in the process. The output of this stage is a ranking of threats based on their prevalence. Prevalence is a measure used to indicate if a particular threat has the capability and motivation to impact each asset.

Rank threats on the following scale:

  • High – threat has capability and motivation to destroy / compromise asset function
  • Medium – threat has capability and motivation to degrade asset function
  • Low – threat has minimal capability and motivation to affect asset

Capability and motivation are important attributes of threat. Threats need both attributes to be credible. For example, consider the scenario when the threat is an Internet attacker and the asset is an e-commerce server connected to the Internet. The attacker has motivation in the form of monetary gain and capability via hacking skills. Each identified asset is analyzed based on the threats that have the ability to affect them, and each threat is ranked based on prevalence.

The results of threat modeling are recorded. The asset and threat information collected thus far provides possible impacts to the business. However, the likelihood of these impacts cannot be determined without the final component of the risk assessment, which is the vulnerability assessment.


The results of the information gathering phase is a collection of data which represents the assets critical to business operations, the threats that may impact those assets, and the vulnerabilities resident on those assets. Risk is present when critical assets, credible threats, and existing vulnerabilities are present.

As the goal of the risk assessment is to identify and prioritize risk to guide the formulation of security strategies, focus on a qualitative risk assessment rather than attempting to assign monetary values to potential losses. It is more practical to use this approach because of the limited data available on likelihood and costs and the difficulty in accounting for liability such as the loss of consumer confidence.

Through a strategic approach to Risk Assessment, this process enables organizations to optimize their security investments and proactively protect their most important information assets from potential threats. When you protect the right assets from the right threats with the right measures, you maximize your security ROI.

Security RDA Evolution

Chart your Course with a Security Roadmap

With initial coordinates established develop your security roadmap. After ascertaining risk within the environment, the next step is to develop strategies to manage that risk. Risk exists due to the convergence of assets, threats, and vulnerabilities, and accordingly mitigating controls which reduce one or all of these factors will reduce the overall risk to the organization. Focus on strategies that maximize return on security investment (ROSI) – strategies that result in the maximum reduction in risk for the minimum security investment.

The security roadmap clearly represents the risks faced by the organization, and risk management strategies that can be employed to reduce those risks. Risk management strategies fall into four categories:

  • Risk Mitigation – Today’s security risk management is primarily mitigation – reducing exposure through security countermeasures (People, Process, and Technology)
  • Risk Transfer – Risk is transferred (contractually) to a 3rd party, e.g., outsourced or an insurance provider
  • Risk Avoidance – Risk is avoided (i.e., such as eliminating an existing online or network capability)
  • Risk Acceptance – Risk is accepted. Certain risk is cheaper to accept than fix. There is a point of diminishing returns with security spending versus return.

Risk mitigation remains the most common security Risk Management strategy because much of the risk associated with security cannot be transferred or avoided – it must be reduced. Strategies are prioritized based on the amount of risk reduction they produce, and the relative cost. The results are documented in the security roadmap action plan.

In a future blog we will discuss more about developing a Reference Design Architecture that aligns with improving Security Capability Maturity and evolves as part of the Adaptive Security Architecture Lifecycle.

Thanks for your interest!

Nige the Security Guy.

Security Health Check

Security Health Check

Many companies have the notion that “once secure, always secure.” But this head-in-the-sand attitude could be detrimental to the health and security of your business. The reality is that security incidents are on the rise, and attackers are more sophisticated and better financed than ever before. Your company might already be a victim, and you don’t even know it.

Security HealthHow can you protect your information?

Security Assessment Baseline

Organizations should seek 3rd party independent and objective validation via regular security assessments, such as a Security Health Check. The main goal of a Security Health Check is to help avoid security compromises on hosts and network environments.  It is an assessment-only project which provides recommendations, no changes in the environment are ever made.

A Security Health Check enables organizations to obtain an accurate representation of the security posture and develop a customized security baseline. The baseline should be used in a cyclic and iterative process to evolve towards becoming more secure and thus compliance with associated policy and regulatory requirements. Security is a process not a destination.

Health Check

A Security Health Check should cover these fundamental process steps:

  • Baseline>Refresh – Identify/refresh objectives based on industry, policy, regulations, risk tolerance, and so on
  • Snapshot – Security Program Assessment, Technical Security Assessment, Penetration Testing
  • Scorecard – Standards or Compliance-based Security Report and Executive Presentation
  • Workshop – Validate Findings and develop Prioritized Remediation Action Plan based on Risk/Threat
  • Roadmap – Annual Plan of Next Steps based on Budget and Resources

There are two key yet highly complementary approaches to network security testing: the “black-box” zero-knowledge  external penetration study and the “white-box” onsite security vulnerability assessment.

White-Box Testing

In the “white-box” approach, 3rd party consultants validate your company’s security policy, review the design and implementation of  internal security controls, network security perimeter, defense-in-depth strategy, and determine common vulnerabilities and exposures  from an internal perspective. The consultants determine possible attacks against your environment and identify security problems and  process maturity.

White Box

Black-Box Testing

In the complementary “black-box” approach, the consultant operates knowing only the name and address of your company. The team will identify, scan, and probe your network security perimeter for common vulnerabilities and exposures, much as a hacker would. The external penetration study provides real-world attack experience utilizing commonly used hacker scanning, manual techniques and attack tools to determine security exposures and vulnerabilities.

Black Box

The testing is conducted in parallel with the onsite security assessment team and is coordinated closely with the project manager. The penetration study methodology is typically based upon and uses subsets of, as follows:

  • Penetration Testing Execution Standard (PTES)
  • Open-Source Security Testing Methodology Manual (OSSTM)
  • INFOSEC Assessment Capability Maturity Model (IA-CMM)

Security Scorecard

A Security Scorecard should consist of detailed penetration study and security assessment reports together with executive summary slides. This package presents the findings and recommendations on identified Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE), regulatory and standards compliance gap matrices, and provides custom best-practices-based security strategy and summary scorecards.


Remediation Workshop

The collaborative workshop provides the opportunity onsite to review, validate, and prioritize the findings, and discuss methodology, best practices, and strategy recommendations to create an action plan. These results facilitate development of a comprehensive yet improving security program and annual lifecycle process. The workshop can often include security training on the techniques used by attackers to map, probe, and scan computers from the Internet or to increase user awareness and education.

Thanks for your interest!

Nige the Security Guy.