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Network Security Risk Assessment: Checklist & Methodology

Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

Networks are the entry point for a lot of systems, and as such legitimate targets. In this lesson, we'll take a look at network security, what it is, a checklist for implementing it, and a methodology that can be followed.

The Root Cause

We live in a world where security is needed. It's a shame really, but it's true. We hear about stores being robbed, we hear about vehicles being stolen, and we even hear about information being compromised. The fact is that information is involved in many things that we do; from entertainment, to online purchases, so it makes sense that criminals would target information. But what can we do about it? How can we protect ourselves? Well, the first thing to recognize is that information crimes have one thing in common, they involve a network at some level. As such, it makes sense to invest in an area called network security.

What is Network Security?

Network security is the hardware and software put in place to protect based-level network infrastructure. In particular, it works to mitigate the following:

  • Unauthorized Access - requested access that doesn't have the proper authorization. An example would be someone that tries to log in, but is not a company employee.
  • Malicious Use - use of the network that doesn't fall into accepted norms. For example, someone that uses network resources to purchase items illegally.
  • Faults - hardware or software that fails inexplicably. For example, a hard drive that breaks down.
  • Tampering - adjusting a network resource such that it doesn't perform as it normally would. For example, adding an unauthorized user to the authorized list.
  • Destruction - the willful damage of a network resource. An example would be breaking an electronic lock on a door so that after-hours access is allowed.
  • Disclosure - the conscious reveal of sensitive network information. For example, giving away the implementation details so that a weakness can be found.

What is a Network Security Risk Assessment?

A network security risk assessment is the process that looks at each of the mitigation points mentioned above, the policies that govern them, and the people involved. It is a comprehensive look at the state of a network, how it is implemented, and how it is maintained. Think of it like an evaluation of the strength of the network's security. Each area is rated, usually with points, for each vulnerability found. At the end, the area with the most points receives the most attention. Note that the reviewer takes the position of being on the outside looking in, because that is where most issues start.

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