Since a picture says a thousand words here is an attempt at explanation of Risk Analysis.
The rows are “Impact on Environment”: none, minimal, minor, significant, major, critical
The “Likelihood” or “Likely – what is % to happen” is the columns: not likely, low, medium, medium-high, high, will happen.
These are not “real” systems in anyone’s network, only an example of different CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) risks in a hypothetical company. Although I picked on the IoT systems as the likely weak link (one has to update those camera or ups device software or one can be hacked). IoT systems are a weak link since they are not as easy to upgrade and require upkeep like all systems.
In the past I was trying to explain the weak links with this picture:
The problem is that when a system is hacked it now leaves the whole network with all the critical systems open.
The new image, I am trying to explain if a less important system was hacked (like the IoT vulnerabilities) which means an IoT vulnerability system which is critical but has a medium likely chance to get hacked.
Once hacked this system allows the attacker to review other targets and it may be where systems that have lower CVE’s (3-6) are canvassed and with the right vulnerabilities the hacker will now attack and set up persistent methods to stay in the network. Of course the idea is not to just stay in the network, one wants to attack valuable targets.
“Such as having a High CVE on less critical systems ” before the final attack on a critical system at the highest level.
The ultimate and worst possible attack is a remote code execution attack, as with a simple attack one can execute an attack on the system. for a hacker it is easily done.
So explaining the attack in total gives one a further and more complete understanding of the ultimate goal . But what is even more important? To now have the ability to assess risk better. Instead of assessing each device separately with each vulnerability now one must assess the impact and likelihood with a total attack in mind.
Which means? The lower vulnerabilities can have higher impacts. How should we account for this phenomenon?
We have to become attackers (even hypothetically) to figure out which system would be nice to have with a lower vulnerability… so that the hypothetical attack can advance through to the eventual goal.
You might be saying now – that’s all? That is all I have to do ? sort my systems, figure out the vulnerabilities, and then patch them. Well, it is not that easy since life and it’s vacations, sicknesses, labor issues, and other things coming your way. Since the vulnerabilities may come at inopportune times (they do not care if your family has an event). the hacker will hack you at Christmas without batting an eye. The truth of it is the reasons why people and companies get hacked is because the vulnerability management programs do not take into account sickness and vacations. Thus labor is always pushed to ever more difficult situations. There seems to be always a push for cost containment in IT and computer security, since it is assumed all systems should be secure. A cost was not associated with computer security in the past. So this is why many companies lost their cohesion over time and then something happens and the attackers get in.
Once the attacker has a toehold, it is possible to stay undetected for months. In the meantime the patching lifecycle is front and center the reason for many systems getting hacked as well.
Notice that when a vulnerability is found by a researcher it takes many days to actually get a fix for the vulnerability and then it takes yet another few weeks before installing it in your system. It may be 60 days before the system is safe from attack. So we are in a constant state of risk in our networks. This is why every month with new vulnerabilities is an important report to view. And this is why we must continually test for any potential weaknesses in the network.
Now that you know the full reasons from A to Z it is easier to actually assess risk on systems.
What you need when assessing risk is to review all possible risk and decide what to focus on next.
Contact for more information or to discuss your risk assessment.
Also the latest CapitalOne hack seems to have been a misconfigured cloud configuration, including why is it storing private information in a public cloud?? Cyberscoop discusses this in more detail. The breach response may have been fast, but there was a major failure of architecture.
Interesting take on CapitalOne breach from former employee: https://medium.com/cloud-security/whats-in-your-cloud-673c3b4497fd
He says that the configuration was faulty as one IAM (Identity Access management) could be used to access all data (which is a large weak link). I.e. if a hacker can get one account username and password they have all of the data.
The thing to do is to perform threat modeling and review your architecture as well as vulnerability management.