Fresh Thoughts #11: Risk Assessment Mistakes & Do You Need More Security?

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The Biggest Mistake I Made on My First Risk Assessment

The biggest mistake I made on my first risk assessment?

It was too detailed.

I documented every possible way to break into the system.

Now I:

  • Decide which information is sensitive - and matters
  • Start with the most sensitive data
  • List where it is stored and processed (minimise these)
  • List the ways to get to the sensitive data (minimise these)
  • Remove duplicate steps
  • Start with the path with the fewest steps
  • Group possible attacks into families
  • Mitigate the attacks at a group level
  • Repeat for the longer routes and reuse existing mitigations
  • Repeat for less sensitive data

highest risk first + reusing mitigations = efficient risk assessments

5 Questions To Know if You Need More Security

Think of your most sacred and sensitive data.

Think about where it's stored...

  1. Can a hacker get here?
  2. What would they need to do?
  3. How easy is it to do those things?
  4. What defences are you relying on? (Are they implemented?)
  5. How can you strengthen those defences?

A recent example: Customer data on an e-commerce site.

  • Can a hacker get here?
    • Yes.
  • What would they need to do?
    • get into the admin account
    • ...
  • How easy is it to do those things?
    • use leaked, stolen, reused passwords
    • guess the password based on the most common passwords
    • ...
  • What defences are you relying on?
    • people not losing or reusing passwords (not very robust...)
    • ...
  • How can you strengthen those defences?
    • strengthen account management and password security:
      • make passwords a part of your acceptable use policy
      • all team members have unique accounts
      • use separate accounts for admins functions and everyday work
      • use a password manager so your team doesn't need to remember passwords and can easily create unique ones
    • use 2FA, so even if the password is lost, there is an extra line of defence

Some easy, quick wins here. Time to strengthen your security.

April 19, 2022
2 Minutes Read

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