Describing Information Security Concepts: Risk

Describing Information Security Concepts: Risk

Risk is a function of the likelihood of a given threat source’s exercising a particular potential vulnerability, and the resulting impact of that adverse event on the organization. Managing risk is a complex, multifaceted activity that requires the involvement of the entire organization. The NIST Special Publication 800-39: Risk Management Guide for Information Technology Systems defines some common risk terminology that is appropriate for security analysts, as follows:

Risk= Threats x Vulnerabilities x Impact

A threat source is an intent and method that is targeted at the intentional exploitation of a vulnerability or a situation and method that may accidentally trigger a vulnerability.

A threat is the potential for a threat source to exercise (accidentally trigger or intentionally exploit) a specific vulnerability.

A vulnerability is the weakness that makes the resource susceptible to the threat. An attack surface is the total sum of the vulnerabilities in a given system that is accessible to an attacker. The attack surface describes different points where an attacker could get into a system, and where they could get data out of the system.

Impact is the resulting damage to the organization that is caused by the threat.

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