DFC 610 UMGC Assessing Inform

Assessing Information System Vulnerabilities and Risk

You are an information assurance management officer (IAMO) at an organization of your choosing. One morning, as you’re getting ready for work, you see an email from Karen, your manager. She asks you to come to her office as soon as you get in. When you arrive to your work, you head straight to Karen’s office. “Sorry for the impromptu meeting,” she says, “but we have a bit of an emergency. There’s been a security breach at the Office of Personnel Management.”

We don’t know how this happened, but we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again, says Karen. You’ll be receiving an email with more information on the security breach. Use this info to assess the information system vulnerabilities of the Office of Personnel Management.

At your desk, you open Karen’s email. She’s given you an OPM report from the Office of the Inspector General, or OIG. You have studied the OPM OIG report and found that the hackers were able to gain access through compromised credentials. The security breach could have been prevented, if the Office of Personnel Management, or OPM, had abided by previous auditing reports and security findings. In addition, access to the databases could have been prevented by implementing various encryption schemas and could have been identified after running regularly scheduled scans of the systems.

Karen and the rest of the leadership team want you to compile your findings into a Security Assessment Report, or SAR. You will also create a Risk Assessment Report, or RAR, in which you identify threats, vulnerabilities, risks, and likelihood of exploitation and suggested remediation.

The security posture of the information systems infrastructure of an organization should be regularly monitored and assessed (including software, hardware, firmware components, governance policies, and implementation of security controls).

The monitoring and assessment of the infrastructure and its components, policies, and processes should also account for changes and new procurements in order to stay in step with ever-changing information system technologies.

The data breach at the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was one of the largest in US government history. It provides a series of lessons learned for other organizations in industry and the public sector. Some failures of security practices, such as lack of diligence with security controls and management of changes to the information systems infrastructure, were cited as contributors to the massive data breach in the OPM Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) Final Audit Report, which can be found in open-source searches.

Some of the findings in the report include:

  • weak authentication mechanisms;
  • lack of a plan for life-cycle management of the information systems;
  • lack of a configuration management and change management plan;
  • lack of inventory of systems, servers, databases, and network devices;
  • lack of mature vulnerability scanning tools;
  • lack of valid authorizations for many systems; and
  • lack of plans of action to remedy the findings of previous audits.

The breach ultimately resulted in removal of OPM’s top leadership. The impact of the breach on the livelihoods of millions of people may never be fully known.

There is a critical need for security programs that can assess vulnerabilities and provide mitigations.

In this project, there are eight steps, including a lab, that will help you create your final deliverables. The deliverables for this project are as follows:

  1. Security Assessment Report (SAR): This should be an eight- to 10-page double-spaced Word document with citations in APA format. The page count does not include figures, diagrams, tables, or citations.
  2. Risk Assessment Report (RAR): This report should be a five- to six-page double-spaced Word document with citations in APA format. The page count does not include figures, diagrams, tables, or citations.

    Step 1: Enterprise Network Diagram

    In this project, you will research and learn about types of networks and their secure constructs that may be used in an organization to accomplish the functions of the organization’s mission. You will propose a local area network (LAN) and a wide area network (WAN) for the organization, define the systems environment, and incorporate this information in a network diagram. You will discuss the security benefits of your chosen network design.Read the following resources about some of the computing platforms available for networks and discuss how these platforms could be implemented in your organization:

    Include the rationale for each of the platforms you choose to include in your network design.

    Step 2: Enterprise Threats

    Review the OIG report on the OPM breach that you were asked to research and read about at the beginning of the project. The OIG report includes many security deficiencies that likely left OPM networks vulnerable to being breached.In addition to those external threats, the report describes the ways OPM was vulnerable to insider threats. The information about the breach could be classified as threat intelligence. Define threat intelligence and explain what kind of threat intelligence is known about the OPM breach.You just provided detailed background information on your organization. Next, you’ll describe threats to your organization’s system. Before you get started, select and explore the contents of the following link: insider threats (also known as internal threats). As you’re reading, take note of which insider threats are a risk to your organization.Now, differentiate between the external threats to the system and the insider threats. Identify where these threats can occur in the previously created diagrams. Relate the OPM threat intelligence to your organization. How likely is it that a similar attack will occur at your organization?

    Step 3: Scan the Network

    You will now investigate network traffic and the security of the network and information system infrastructure overall. Past network data has been logged and stored, as collected by a network analyzer tool such as Wireshark. Explore the tutorials and user guides to learn more about the tools to monitor and analyze network activities you will use.You will perform a network analysis of the Wireshark files provided to you in Workspace and assess the network posture and any vulnerability or suspicious information you are able to obtain. You will identify any suspicious activities on the network through port scanning and other techniques. Include this information in your SAR.

    Step 4: Identify Security Issues

    You have a suite of security tools, techniques, and procedures that can be used to assess the security posture of your organization’s network in a SAR.Now it’s time to identify the security issues in your organization’s networks. You have previously learned about password-cracking tools; in this step, provide an analysis of the strength of passwords used by the employees in your organization. Are weak passwords a security issue for your organization?

    Step 5: Firewalls and Encryption

    Next, examine these resources on firewalls and auditing related to the use of the Relational Database Management System (RDBMS), the database system and data. Also review these resources related to access control.Determine the role of firewalls, encryption, and auditing for RDBMS in protecting information and monitoring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the information in the information systems.Reflect any weaknesses found in the network and information system diagrams previously created, as well as in your developing SAR.

    Step 6: Threat Identification

    Now that you know the weaknesses in your organization’s network and information system, you will determine various known threats to the organization’s network architecture and IT assets.Get acquainted with the following types of threats and attack techniques. Which are a risk to your organization?

    In identifying the different threats, complete the following tasks:

    1. Identify the potential hacking actors of these threat attacks on vulnerabilities in networks and information systems, as well as the types of remediation and mitigation techniques available in your industry and for your organization.
    2. Identify the purpose and function of firewalls for organization network systems and how they address the threats and vulnerabilities you have identified.
    3. Discuss the value of using access control, database transaction, and firewall log files.
    4. Identify the purpose and function of encryption as it relates to files, databases, and other information assets on the organization’s networks.

    Include these in your SAR

    Step 7: Risk and Remediation

    What is the risk and what is the remediation? What is the security exploitation? You can use the OPM OIG Final Audit Report findings and recommendations as a possible source for methods to remediate and mitigate vulnerabilities.Read this risk assessment resource to get familiar with the process, then prepare a risk assessment. Be sure to first list the threats, then the vulnerabilities, and then the pairwise comparisons for each threat and vulnerability. Then determine the likelihood of each event occurring and the level of impact it would have on the organization.Include this in your risk assessment report (RAR).

    Step 8: Creating the SAR and RAR

    Your research and your Workspace exercise have led you to this moment: creating your SAR and RAR. Consider what you have learned in the previous steps as you create your reports for leadership.Prepare a Security Assessment Report (SAR) with the following sections:

    1. Purpose
    2. Organization
    3. Scope
    4. Methodology
    5. Data
    6. Results
    7. Findings

    The final SAR does not have to stay within this framework and can be designed to fulfill the goal of the security assessment.Prepare a risk assessment report (RAR) with information on the threats, vulnerabilities, likelihood of exploitation of security weaknesses, impact assessments for exploitation of security weaknesses, remediation, and cost/benefit analyses of remediation.Devise a high-level plan of action with interim milestones (POAM) in a system methodology to remedy your findings.Include this high-level plan in the RAR.Summarize the results you obtained from the OpenVAS vulnerability assessment tool in your report.The deliverables for this project are as follows:The deliverables for this project are as follows:

    1. Security Assessment Report (SAR): This should be an eight- to 10-page double-spaced Word document with citations in APA format. The page count does not include figures, diagrams, tables, or citations.
    2. Risk Assessment Report (RAR): This report should be a five- to six-page double-spaced Word document with citations in APA format. The page count does not include figures, diagrams, tables, or citations.

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