News flash: Those so-called “risk” labels/ratings included in pentest and vuln scan reports are NOT actually “risk” representations. I was in attendance at the OWASP Summit 2011 a couple weeks back, and the topic of “risk metrics” and labels came up during one session. As a result, I led a break-out session on what risk really looks like in the macro sense, in accordance with formal methods, and where these various scan/test results really fit in. The session had great conversation and highlighted for me a need to expand risk analysis training to a broader audience. Below is a picture of the taxonomy of factors that make up a FAIR (Factor Analysis of Information Risk) risk analysis. Putting aside the[…]

There has been much criticism of risk assessment and analysis over the past few years that amount to much ado about nothing. Why is it much ado about nothing? Well, because, quite simply, people oftentimes don’t understand what it is they’re criticizing, especially in the case of quantified risk analysis methods. Before we get into risk measurement, let’s first make one thing clear: risk analysis is nothing more than a decision-analysis (or decision-support) tool. It helps provide reasonably accurate data points that decision-makers can use when make decisions. It is not a panacea for all things risk or infosec, nor is it some sort of special magic-sauce voodoo with no grounding in reality (at least not in terms of well-considered[…]

Risk assessment gets a bad rap these days, thanks in large part to a checkered past colored by qualitative analyses. Historically, risk assessments have been fuzzy, at best, and down-right inaccurate and misleading at worst. You know the ones I’m talking about: some hot shot consultant comes in, pokes around, maybe runs a couple scans, and then churns out a report with a bunch of High, Medium, and Low findings. However, as you dig into the results – particularly the so-called “High Risk” findings – you start finding extreme squishiness with no connection to reality, rational thought, or logic. And this is what we’re supposed to use to “better manage” security? Don’t think so… Enter Factor Analysis of Information Risk[…]