Exploring a Controls−Based Assessment of Infrastructure Vulnerability
Oliver Farnan and Jason R. C. Nurse
Assessing the vulnerability of an enterprise's infrastructure is an important step in judging the security of its network and the trustworthiness and quality of the information that flows through it. Currently, low-level infrastructure vulnerability is often judged in an ad hoc manner, based on the criteria and experience of the assessors. While methodological approaches to assessing an organisation's vulnerability exist, they are often targeted at higher-level threats, and can fail to accurately represent risk. Our aim in this paper therefore, is to explore a novel, structured approach to assessing low-level infrastructure vulnerability. We do this by placing the emphasis on a controls-based evaluation over a vulnerability-based evaluation. This work aims to investigate a framework for the pragmatic approach that organisations currently use for assessing low-level vulnerability. Instead of attempting to find vulnerabilities in infrastructure, we instead assume the network is insecure, and measure its vulnerability based on the controls that have (and have not) been put in place. We consider different control schemes for addressing vulnerability, and show how one of them, namely the Council on Cyber Security's Top 20 Critical Security Controls, can be applied.