Last Revision Date: September 12, 2011
Approval Date: September 16, 2011
Approval Authority: Case Chief Information Security Officer
A standard policy for management of information security related risk is defined, and baseline terminology set forth for security planning and compliance efforts. The objective of risk management activities include:
This standard applies to all university information technology and information management systems to address enterprise and system risk. All information systems (including outsourced IT services) shall undergo some level of assessment of information security risk management. Information systems deemed to be of critical value to Case Western Reserve University, including but not limited to IT systems where formal project management is required, shall undergo formal risk management activities as defined in this Policy.
All information systems of critical value to Case Western Reserve University shall undergo some level of assessment of information security risk management. Risk management is a systems lifecycle approach, and not a single point of time evaluation. It is the responsibility of the system owner to ensure risk to the university is managed adequately, and places the university at no unacceptable risk.
Two principal variants of risk are common to the university environment. These are enterprise risk and system risk. Enterprise security risks are common to all information in the university operations, and the identification and management of these risks are subject to the risk tolerance of the executive management of the university. The Information Security Office is responsible for supporting the Office of the President and Provost, through the VP of Information Technology Services/CIO, in management of enterprise security risk, through the deployment of university-wide programs, controls, practices, and policies. System security risks involve specific systems and business processes, which most often have a single department or system owner. The system owner, as defined in Information System Security Plans, is responsible for ensuring adherence to both university-wide risk management activities and system-specific risks.
This procedure outlines the prescribed approach to manage risk in an information security context.
The university uses a combination of two standard approaches to management of information security risks: Continuous Risk Management (CRM) and the OCTAVESM Risk Assessment Method. These approaches are designed to be a “supported self-service” program, where with facilitation by the Information Security Office analysts, system owners and their operational and project teams are empowered to identify and manage information security risks to their computing environment.
The OCTAVE method is embedded into the CRM methodology in the identification and analysis phases of CRM, commonly referred to as a risk assessment.
The CRM method is an iterative and qualitative risk management framework that is adaptable to the dynamic environment of university research, education, and supporting IT systems and infrastructure. CRM defines standard terms and processes to be used in managing security risk. CRM was developed by the Software Engineering Institute for software engineering organizations, and the method functions well for information security risk management. Fundamental to the risk management process is the development of a risk inventory for any particular system, and associated actions to address the top named risks, either in-place or planned, by the system owner. This is most commonly implemented in the form of a risk listing as included in an Information Security Plan for the system.
The OCTAVE method, which was developed by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), defines basic threat profiles that are used in the risk assessment process. The university has modified the method to identify Conditions and Consequences based on OCTAVE threat profiles. These profiles are developed for the critical assets of the system, and are used a visual tool to develop the risk inventory. The OCTAVE threat categories used include:
Each of these categories are evaluated in a threat tree, as seen in this example for humans with network access.
The risk assessment effort is intended to gather all pertinent risks to the system, at the time of the assessment. Participants include system developers, system owners, user representatives, and system managers. The assessment may or may not include determination of risk ranking or mitigation activities. The Information Security Office facilitates these assessments, using known threat conditions based upon their knowledge of the campus computing environment, as well as past and present threat information.
A risk has a probability of occurrence. If the adverse event has occurred, the probability is 1 and the risk is no longer a risk and has become a problem, and problem management takes over. Therefore, the risk description’s context is used to clearly define the risk conditions and probable adverse events. In the CRM methods, each risk statement consists of two parts:
As the result of the risk analysis phase of CRM, each risk will have defined three qualitative attributes:
"Given the condition, there is a possibility that consequence will occur."
|Condition||Users tend to leave their computers unattended while logged into applications where restricted data are managed, and physical access to the general public is permitted.|
|Consequence||Using physical access to the unattended computer, an outsider (unauthorized) may deliberately access restricted information with the result of disclosure, modification, or destruction of the data.|
The purpose or risk planning is to refine the knowledge of risks identified, and to address the most important risks first. Efficiency is necessary to minimize cost and schedule impact to information systems and projects. Since CRM is a cyclical process, lower priority risks will “rise to the top” as the most important are addressed in early cycles. Once risks are prioritized, action plans are created to address the Top 20% or Top 5 risks. There are 4 categories of risk action:
The risk index, with risk actions defined, is delivered as part of the Information Systems Security Plan. The project assessment team must also continue to understand that the taking of calculated risks is what permits innovations, keeping in mind that the purpose of risk management activities is to address plans to manage unacceptable risks to the organnization.
The tracking of risks is performed as part of the Information Systems management function, and as such, it is best achieved by periodic updates to the Information Systems Security Plan. The system owner is responsible for ensuring that risk actions have taken place, determination of effectiveness of mitigation activities, and ensuring a new risk assessment cycle is conducted upon any significant change to business practices or system implementation. Risk status is to be reported at monthly project status meetings, or in the ITS project report.
Decisions shall be made by the project manager during the project status meetings to close risks, continue to research, mitigate or watch risks, re-plan or re-focus actions or activities, or invoke contingency plans. The Top 5 (or top 20%) risk elements that have enterprise impact may only be closed at the concurrence of the system owner. This is also the time when the project manager authorizes and allocates resources toward risks.
The risk index is reported as a part of the Information Systems Security Plan. Project status meetings should use the standard Risk Index table. For systems subject to FISMA, long term risk mitigation activities (those that require implementation time frames longer than the initial systems development cycle) will have a published Plan of Actions and Milestones (POA&M) for top risks only.
The individuals (typically the System Owner) with the appropriate level of authority to accept responsibility for system risk denote their acceptance of the risk action plan by approval of the Information Systems Security Plan.
Chief Information Security Officer: Ensure risk management process is established and maintained. Define the acceptable risk thresholds for the enterprise through ITSPAC Governance processes. Manage enterprise (system-wide) security risks.
Information Security Staff: Monitor security risks on a continual basis and regularly update the procedural controls based on changing security threat scenarios. Define acceptable risk threshold recommendations to senior management.
System Owners: Assure that risk management activities are conducted during the system development lifecycle, and that local system risk decisions do not negatively impact the university security risk tolerance. Ensure compliance through the establishment of an information systems security plan.
Risk: The combination of the probability that an undesired event will occur which will prevent the organization from achieving a mission or business function (such as a compromise of security) and the consequences or impact of the; risk generally accompanies opportunity.
Risk statement: A combination of condition (threat source and vulnerability) and consequence (impact) that describes a risk.
Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) 2003- Select research systems are subject, via contractual obligations, to comply with the provisions of the Act. Security requirements for risk management under FISMA are delineated by a sponsoring agency security policy document, and by NIST Special Publication 800 series documents.
Acceptable Risk: Risk that is understood and agreed to by the system owner, program, or project, and the Chief Information Security Officer/ITSPAC Governance Committee.
System Owner: The university authority for an business process that is supported by a information system, typically the primary internal customer of the system. For example, the Chief Financial Officer is the system owner of the financial system; the Registrar is the owner of the student information system.
Plan of Action and Milestones (POA&M)
Continuous Risk Management Guidebook, Software Engineering Institute, Pittsburgh, PA http://www.sei.cmu.edu/risk/
OCTAVESM Threat Modeling
Managing Information Security Risks an OCTAVE Approach, Christopher Alberts and Audrey Dorofee, Addison-Wesley, 2003, Pearson Education, Inc.
Complete Systems Analysis, the Workbook, the Textbook, the Answers, James Robertson and Suzanne Robertson, 1998, Dorset House Publishers.
Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) of 2003.
NIST Special Publication 800-39, Managing Information Security Risk
This procedure will be reviewed every three years on the anniversary of the policy effective date, at a minimum. The standard may be reviewed and changed as needed to adapt to compliance and business needs.