Interesting Post on Threat/Vulnerability Pairing

  • From Cigital’s corporate blog.  Quoting Sammy Migues:

    In my recent reviews of what’s going on in the world, risk modeling exercises related to application security seem to stretch on for two primary reasons:

    1. An obsession with knowing every “threat”
    2. Not having a good rule for deciding when a threat-vulnerability-control coupling deserves no more scrutiny

    What I’ve evolved over the past couple of decades to reduce this work is something I’ve called “Looking for zeros” and “Looking for ones.”

    In my experience, knowing the exact threat (i.e., combination of attacker, attack, attack path, resources, and some intangible things such as motive) is often irrelevant. I call this “Looking for ones.” For example, if a particular attack always works (e.g., cross-site scripting in a particular web form), then it likely matters not whether the attacker is a national government, a terrorist, a criminal, a script kiddie, or someone who accidentally pastes HTML into the field — the “success value” for this attack-vulnerability tuple will always be ‘1?. Knowledge of the attacker might give us a bit more information about what he or she might be ultimately trying to accomplish, but the decision to fix the problem should already have been made.

    Similarly, this is why we decompose threat, vulnerability, assets, and other things into constituent components….

    Very interesting stuff there!

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