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University of the Cumberlands

School of Computer & Information Sciences

ISOL-536 - Security Architecture & Design

Chapter 1: Introduction
Spring 2020
Dr. Sherri Brinson
• Chapter 1: Introduction
• 1.1 Breach! Fix It!
• 1.2 Information Security, as Applied to Systems
• 1.3 Applying Security to Any System
Chapter 1: Introduction
• 1.1 Breach! Fix It!
• Advances in information security have been repeatedly driven by spectacular
attacks and by the evolutionary advances of the attackers.
• The password file for millions of customers was stolen through the front end
of a web site pulling in 90% of a multi-billion dollar revenue stream.
• The chance of an attempted attack of one kind or another is certain. The
probability of a web attack is 100%; systems are being attacked and will be
attacked regularly and continually.
• Indeed, system complexity leads to increasing the difficulty of defense and,
inversely, decreasing the difficulty of successful exploitation. The number of
flows between systems can turn into what architects call, “spaghetti,” a
seeming lack of order and regularity in the design.
Chapter 1: Introduction – Cont.
• If a breach or significant compromise and loss creates an opportunity, then
that opportunity quite often is to build a security architecture practice. A
major part or focus of that maturing security architecture practice will be the
assessment of systems for the purpose of assuring that when deployed, the
assessed systems contain appropriate security qualities and controls.
• Sensitive data will be protected in storage, transmission, and processing.
• Sensitive access will be controlled (need-to-know, authentication, and
• Defenses will be appropriately redundant and layered to account for failure.
• There will be no single point of failure in the controls.
• Systems are maintained in such a way that they remain available for use.
• Activity will be monitored for attack patterns and failures.
Chapter 1: Introduction – Cont.
• 1.2 Information Security, as Applied to Systems
• Security architecture applies the principles of security to system
• Without security architecture, the intrusion system (IDS) might be distinct and
independent from the firewalls (perimeter). Firewalls and IDS would then be
unconnected and independent from anti-virus and anti-malware on the
endpoint systems and entirely independent of server protections.
• The security architect first uncovers the intentions and security needs of the
organization: open and trusting or tightly controlled, the data sensitivities,
and so forth.
Chapter 1: Introduction – Cont.
• When standards do not match what can actually be achieved, the standards
become empty ideals. In such a case, engineers’ confidence will be shaken;
system project teams are quite likely to ignore standards, or make up their
own. Security personnel will lose considerable influence. Therefore, as we
shall see, it’s important that standards match capabilities closely, even when
the capabilities are limited. In this way, all participants in the system security
process will have more confidence in analysis and requirements.
Chapter 1: Introduction – Cont.
• Decision makers need to understand precisely what protections can be put
into place and have a good understanding of any residual, unprotected risks
that remain.
• A suite of controls implemented for a system becomes that system’s defense.
If well designed, these become a “defense-in-depth,” a set of overlapping and
somewhat redundant controls. Because, of course, things fail. One security
“principle” is that no single control can be counted upon to be inviolable.
Everything may fail. Single points of failure are potentially vulnerable.
Chapter 1: Introduction – Cont.
• The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) provides a distillation of
several of the most well known sets of computer security principles:
• Apply defense-in-depth (complete mediation).
• Use a positive security model (fail-safe defaults, minimize attack surface).
• Fail securely.
• Run with least privilege.
• Avoid security by obscurity (open design).
• Keep security simple (verifiable, economy of mechanism).
• Detect intrusions (compromise recording).
• Don’t trust infrastructure.
• Establish secure defaults.
Chapter 1: Introduction – Cont.
• 1.3 Applying Security to Any System
• A typical progression of security maturity is to start by building one-off security
features into systems during system implementation. During the early periods, there
may be only one critical system that has any security requirements! It will be easier
and cheaper to simply build the required security services as a part of the system as
it’s being implemented. As time goes on, perhaps as business expands into new
territories or different products, there will be a need for common architectures, if for
no other reason than maintainability and shared cost. It is typically at this point that a
security infrastructure comes into being that supports at least some of the common
security needs for many systems to consume. It is characteristically a virtue to keep
complexity to a minimum and to reap scales of economy.
Chapter 1: Introduction – Cont.
• Almost every type and size of a system will have some security needs. Although it
may be argued that a throw-away utility, written to solve a singular problem, might
not have any security needs, if that utility finds a useful place beyond its original
problem scope, the utility is likely to develop security needs at some point.
• Complex business systems typically have security requirements up front. In addition,
either the implementing organization or the users of the system or both will have
security expectations of the system. But complexity is not the determiner of security.
• Thus, the answer as to whether a system requires an ARA and threat model is tied
to the answers to a number of key questions:
• What is the expected deployment model?
• What will be the distribution?
• What language and execution environment will run the
Chapter 1: Introduction – Cont.
• Size, business criticality, expenses, and complexity, among others, are dimensions
that may have a bearing, but are not solely deterministic. I have seen many
Enterprise IT efforts fail, simply because there was an attempt to reduce this early
decision to a two-dimensional space, yes/no questions. These simplifications
invariably attempted to achieve efficiencies at scale. Unfortunately, in practice today,
the decision to analyze the architecture of a system for security is a complex,
multivariate problem.
• The answer to “Systems? Which systems?” cannot be overly simplified. Depending
upon use cases and intentions, analyzing almost any system may produce significant
security return on time invested. And, concomitantly, in a world of limited resources,
some systems and, certainly, certain types of system changes may be passed without
review. The organization may be willing to accept a certain amount of unknown risk
asa result of not conducting a review.
Chapter 1: Summary
Information assurance is achieved when information and information systems are
protected against attacks through the application of security services such as availability,
integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and nonrepudiation. The application of these services
should be based on the protect, detect, and react paradigm.

• This means that in addition to incorporating protection mechanisms,

organizations need to expect attacks and include attack detection
tools and procedures that allow them to react to and recover from
these unexpected attacks.