Our cyber security products span from our next gen SIEM used in the most secure government and critical infrastructure environments, to automated cyber risk reporting applications for commercial and government organisations of all sizes.
This blog post “CMMC – Cybersecurity Risk Management’’ is the eighth in a series on Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) – a US Department of Defense (DoD) initiative that imposes requirements on contractors and subcontractors to help safeguard information within the US defense supply chain.
In this post we look at risk management and how you can achieve a higher degree of maturity in your approach to risk assessments and mitigation activity using a combination of people, processes and technology.
An important aspect of your information security programme is to implement a clear and unambiguous security risk assessment methodology and ensure that clear boundaries between domains and systems are in place, so people know what is required. Security risk assessments, unlike business risk assessments, consider security threats, vulnerabilities, likelihood and impact together to calculate the overall risk rating. Security controls can influence vulnerability and impact to help reduce that rating. Threats are hard to change, as is the likelihood of that threat acting on your business, so focus on what you can influence.
Importantly, and highlighted as a Level 2 requirement of the CMMC, assessments must include threats and vulnerabilities in your supply chain from subcontractors, partners, vendors and even customers, since they can all affect your overall ability to manage risks effectively. Risk assessments, either formal or informal, can be conducted at the organisation level, the mission or business process level, or the system level and at any phase in the system development lifecycle.
Threats can come from a wide variety of sources and take on many guises. By tying each threat to the assets they may target and the potential impact you would suffer if the breach was successful, you can determine the level of control you need to apply to mitigate the risks.
Threats don’t always come in the guise of a stereotypical hacker, and any parts of the business where vulnerabilities could permit a threat to cause harm need to be included in your risk modelling. The CMMC lists six kinds of threat you should be evaluating as you move towards managing the risks they cause:
At CMMC Maturity Level 2, you can perform either formal or informal risk assessments. Either method is acceptable. However, proceeding to Maturity Level 3 and beyond, you’ll need to implement a formal risk assessment methodology and qualify your evaluation of the threats based on tacit knowledge of your assets and the motivations (and means) of the attacker. A formal risk assessment methodology ensures you follow a standard approach for threat categorisation, and that the entire process is documented end-to-end. CMMC explains the crucial differences between a risk assessment and a vulnerability assessment, since vulnerability is just one input into your risk calculation.
To get to CMMC Maturity Level 3, you need to focus on the overall approach to risk management and ensure the process is complete, including the use of predefined risk categories, sources and the measurement criteria feeding into each assessment. Level 3 also demands you have a programme in place to perform periodic evaluations and can mitigate the threat of recurrence of a risk after an incident.
Risk assessments need to be conducted on more than just your technology systems and should include threats and vulnerabilities affecting your people and your processes, your information and your facilities. By widening your security risk perspective to include these additional business lenses, you gain a complete view of organisational business risk. The outcome of this process, while taking longer to achieve, serves you better in communicating overall security risk (and your current security posture) to the board, so helps in your executive communications strategy from the security team.
Once you have assessed a security risk, if its rating is too high for your comfort, you’ll need to implement a mitigation strategy to manage the risk and bring its score down to an acceptable level. Mitigation strategies typically involve designing and implementing controls (or altering business practices) and updating your service continuity plans. You might also consider how you address risks that cannot be brought into a manageable range, through external strategies such as cyber insurance or putting some of the requirements for mitigating controls back onto your supply chain.
Managed within the risk register, you’ll also record a risk mitigation plan for each risk, specifying how you avoid, accept, monitor, defer, transfer and mitigate them. Mitigation strategies are specified as to how you reduce the likelihood or eradicate the vulnerability, as well as lowering the rating through third-party transference. CMMC lists several examples of the kinds of mitigation strategies you could implement, which are summarised here:
To reach the higher CMMC Maturity Levels, you need to implement threat profiles using analysis of adversary tools, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to understand exposure better. The use of threat intelligence is vital to achieving this and your security operations capability will be tying risk mitigation strategies to detection and response capabilities in the SOC. This requires an advanced understanding of these TTPs and how the threat might be discovered in the environment.
Technology is key for advanced SOC operators tying adversarial techniques and procedures to operational security processes. Next generation SIEM capabilities with threat intelligence and behavioural analytics help provide risk reporting for business stakeholders.
The UK market has its own regulators, security standards and challenges. And while rulings from SEC in the US or the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) in Australia don’t apply to UK companies, for the most part, the observations are undoubtedly relevant and the resulting advice instructive. It would be wrong to think UK financial […]Read more
<<< Part 2a: Australia’s Essential Eight: Beyond Endpoint Control <<< Part 2b: Activating UK NCSC & US NIST Guidelines: Beyond Endpoint Control Part 4: Systematic Measurement of Cyber Controls >>> As much as we invest into cyber security controls, external threats are inevitable. In a recent Notifiable Data Breaches Report from the Office of the […]Read more
Keen campers, scouts and even the Swiss Army know – that a good penknife is indispensable. This simple device has mitigated many a disaster at one point in time or another. Whether it’s to cut through a bit of string, tighten a screw or simply to solve the problem of no bottle opener in the […]Read more
Supply chain risk is an area of cyber security that demands the ongoing attention of every enterprise; because it can make the difference between being resilient or not. It’s no surprise that insurers warn that the vulnerability of supply chains is potentially a systemic risk that can quickly propagate across supply chain dominated industries. Organisations […]Read more
It took a “tripartite cyber assessment” by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to identify that a sample of financial organisations had inadequate cyber security: poor security control management, a lack of business recovery planning and inadequate 3rd party risk assessment. Why were there gaps? Where is the failure? Clearly the common practice of unsubstantiated […]Read more
The discussion over data-driven vs qualitative cyber security assessment has been going for some time. Nowadays, it is at the top of the priority list for many security and senior executive teams. Managing cyber security has always been a noble ambition but without reliable measurement, the lack of actionable information makes evidence-based management decisions almost […]Read more
Attack Surface Management (ASM) characterises a business’s security risks as the monitoring and risk mitigation of a constantly changing and vulnerable “risk-surface”. Importantly, this attack surface extends to both internal and external assets and services. Some ASM solutions deliver clear visibility across both Internet facing and internal assets. Others do not. Instead, they assess external […]Read more
The UK Government has released its annual “Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2023”. It provides some valuable insights into how cyber security is currently being managed in the UK, by a range of organisations. It also speaks to how current competing economic priorities are impacting the effectiveness of some cyber security management efforts. The full report […]Read more
Solving the mismatch between cyber security reporting and directors’ requirements You are undoubtedly familiar with the headlines; you may have even become in part desensitised to them: ‘Cyber-attacks are increasingly damaging’, or ‘large amounts of personal data are most at risk’. The important take-away, however, is that modern day thieves can easily gain access to […]Read more
A system to address the untrustworthy security environment Zero trust approaches to security have been talked about for a while; but in recent times they have certainly gained more currency. As a model for protecting data and services, the simplicity of the concept is its biggest strength – assume, as a default position, there is […]Read more
Read by directors, executives, and security professionals globally, operating in the most complex of security environments.