Information Security Risk Assessment Checklist

Information Security
Risk Assessment Checklist
RM+ 1108 -2.16
Information security is a critical issue for any organization. Increased access to
information and various services has occurred as companies increasingly move their core
activities to the Internet. As more information and services become available, these
Internet-based technologies become a greater risk of potential liability and cost.
Information Technology Departments play a unique role as the managers and caretakers
of some of the largest collections of critical systems, applications, and databases. These
systems, applications, and databases often house information which is subject to strict
controls and protections by law, including the data collected, stored, shared, and
transmitted that was once very difficult to obtain. Risk assessment tools, like this one, can
assist in determining the gaps in its information security program and provide guidance
and direction for improvement.
Use of this simple Checklist is not required, nor is it intended to cover all of the issues
related to information security, but its use will provide a high-level view of the security
posture when measured against general information security practices.
This tool should be used in conjunction with the following steps:
1. This Checklist should be completed by the Information Security Officer (ISO), in
cooperation with the Chief Information Officer. A response to the items in each
section should be prepared to accurately reflect the “point in time” picture of the
organizations security posture.
2. Identify the levels of risk associated with any of the items that result in a “no”
3. Develop an appropriate action plan to mitigate the identified risk.
4. Assign roles and responsibilities for implementing and monitoring timely completion
of the action plan.
RM+ 1108 -2.16
Information Security Risk Assessment Checklist
A. Organizational and Management Practices
1. Security Program Governance – Executive Management has assigned roles and responsibilities
for information security across its organization. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
documenting, disseminating, and periodically updating a formal information security program
that addresses purpose, scope, roles, responsibilities, applicable laws and regulations, and the
implementation of policies, standards, and procedures.
2. Confidentiality Agreements – Implement confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements with
contractors and external entities to ensure the companies need for protection of
confidential information is met.
3. Risk Assessments – A review process at planned intervals is implemented to ensure the
continuing suitability and effectiveness of the companies approach to managing
information security.
4. System Security – A formal document that provides an overview of the security requirements for
information systems and describes the security controls in place (or planned) for meeting those
requirements is maintained.
5. System Certification – An assessment of the security controls in place for existing systems and
those planned for new systems is conducted at least once each year. Assessment tools are
readily available through security organizations, like National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST), SysAdmin, Audit, Network, Security (SANS) Institute, and other reputable
sources. The ISO reviews and approves actions taken to correct any deficiencies
identified. Responsible technical or operational management are included in the review
6. Configuration Change Control – Changes made to information systems are controlled and
documented. The changes are reviewed and approved in accordance with written policy and
procedures, including a process for emergency changes.
7. Security Categorization – Procedures to classify systems and information that is stored,
processed, shared, or transmitted with respect to the type of data (e.g., confidential or sensitive)
and its value to critical business functions are in place.
8. Vulnerability Scanning – A regular occurring (e.g., bi-annual, quarterly, monthly) process using
specialized scanning tools and techniques that evaluates the configuration, patches, and
services for known vulnerabilities is employed.
B. Personnel Practices
1. Security Awareness – Training is provided to all employees and contractors on an annual basis
that addresses acceptable use and good computing practices for systems they are authorized
to access. Content of training is based on policies addressing issues, such as, privacy
requirements, virus protection, incident reporting, Internet use, notification to staff about
monitoring activities, password requirements, and consequences of legal and policy violations.
2. Human Resources Security – Policies and procedures that address purpose, scope, roles,
responsibilities, and compliance to support personnel security requirements, such as access
rights, disciplinary process, etc. are in place.
3. Position Categorization – Procedures for identifying system access needs by job function and
screening criteria for individuals performing those functions are in place.
4. Personnel Separation – A process to terminate information system and physical access and
ensure the return of all company-related property (keys, id badges, etc.) when an individual
changes assignments or separates from the company is developed and implemented.
5. Third Party or Contractor Security – Personnel security requirements for third-party providers
and procedures to monitor compliance are in place. Requirements are included in acquisitionrelated documents, such as service-level agreements, contracts, and memorandums of
6. Personnel Screening – Employee history and/or a background check is performed on
employees who work with or have access to confidential or sensitive information or critical
C. Physical Security Practices
1. Physical and Environmental Program – Policy and procedures that address the purpose, scope,
roles, responsibilities, and compliance for physical and environmental security, such as security
perimeter and entry controls, working in secure areas, equipment security, cabling security, fire
detection and suppression, room temperature controls, etc. are in place.
2. Physical Access Monitoring – The need for monitored access to business areas is evaluated.
In monitored areas, records for approved personnel access and sign-in sheets for visitors are
maintained. Logs are periodically reviewed, violations or suspicious activities are investigated,
and action is taken to address issues.
3. Physical Access Control – Physical access to facilities containing information systems is
controlled and individual’s authorization is verified before granting access.
4. Environmental Controls – The necessary environmental controls, based on a requirements
assessment, which includes but is not limited to backup power to facilitate an orderly shutdown
process, fire detection and suppression, temperature and humidity controls, water damage
detection and mitigation are provisioned and properly maintained.
5. Secure Disposal of Equipment – Processes are in place to permanently remove any sensitive
data and licensed software prior to disposal.
D. Data Security Practices
1. Disaster Recovery Planning – A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is in place that supports the
current business continuity needs of the agency. The DRP plans for the recovery of technology
and communications following any major event that disrupts the normal business environment,
provides for periodic updating and testing of the plan, and its documentation includes, but is not
limited to:
Recovery based on critical and sensitive business needs.
Location of regular backups of systems and data, with documentation.
Regularly updated information about where copies of the plan reside, including
appropriate off-site locations.
Training for appropriate personnel.
2. Information Back-up – Backup copies of information and software are completed on a routine
schedule, tested regularly, and stored off-site.
3. Monitoring – System logging, and routine procedures to audit logs, security events, system use,
systems alerts or failures, etc. are implemented and log information is in placed where it cannot
be manipulated or altered.
4. Data Classification – Policies and processes to classify information in terms of its value, legal
requirements, sensitivity, and criticality to the organization are in place.
5. Access Controls – Policies and procedures are in place for appropriate levels of access to
computer assets. Access controls include, but are not limited to:
Password management, including the use of strong passwords, periodic password
change, and restriction of sharing access and/or passwords. System access is
authorized according to business need and password files are not stored in clear text or
are otherwise adequately protected.
Wireless access restrictions are in place, with organizational control over access points,
prohibition and monitoring against rogue access points, appropriate configuration of
wireless routers and user devices, and policy, procedure, and training for technical staff
and users are in place.
Secure remote access procedures and policies are in place, and are known and
followed by users.
Mobile and portable systems and their data are protected through adequate security
measures, such as encryption and secure passwords, and physical security, such as
storing devices in a secure location and using cable locking devices.
The tracking of access and authorities, including periodic audits of controls and
privileges is in place.
Networks challenge access requests (both user and system levels) and authenticate the
requester prior to granting access.
6. Least Privilege – Configuration to the lowest privilege level necessary to execute legitimate and
authorized business applications is implemented.
7. Data Storage and Portable Media Protection – Policies and procedures to protect data on
electronic storage media, including CDs, USB drives, and tapes are in place. Procedures
include labels on media to show sensitivity levels and handling requirements, rotation, retention
and archival schedules, and appropriate destruction/disposal of media and data.
E. Information Integrity Practices
1. Identification and Authentication – Policies and procedures for identification and authentication
to address roles and responsibilities, and compliance standards are in place.
2. User Identification and Authentication (typically userid and password) – Information
systems/applications uniquely identify and authenticate users when it is appropriate to do so.
3. Device Identification and Authentication – Information systems/applications identify and
authenticate specific devices before establishing a connection with them.
4. System and Information Integrity – Policies and procedures for system and information integrity
to address roles, responsibilities, and compliance standards are in place.
5. Malicious Code Protection – A regular patching process has been implemented to protect
against malicious code. The process is automated when possible.
6. Intrusion Detection – Tools and techniques are utilized to monitor intrusion events, detect
attacks, and provide identification of unauthorized system use.
7. Security Alerts and Advisories – The appropriate internal staff members receive security
alerts/advisories on a regular basis and take appropriate actions in response to them.
8. Secure System Configuration – The security settings on systems are configured to be
appropriately restrictive while still supporting operational requirements. Non-essential services
are disabled or removed when their use is not necessary as to eliminate unnecessary risk.
9. Software and Information Integrity – Information systems/applications detect and protect against
unauthorized changes to software and information.
10. Information Input Accuracy, Completeness, and Validity – Information systems/applications
check data inputs for accuracy, completeness, and validity.
11. Flaw Remediation – Information system/application flaws are identified, reported, and
F. Software Integrity Practices
1. System and Services Acquisition – Policies and procedures for system and services acquisition
are in place to address roles and responsibilities, and processes for compliance checking.
2. Software Integrity Practices – Policies and procedures associated with system and services
acquisition and product acceptance are in place.
Acquisitions – Security requirements and/or security specifications, either explicitly or by
reference, are included in all information system acquisition contracts based on an
assessment of risk.
Software Usage Restrictions – Controls or validation measures to comply with software
usage restrictions in accordance with contract agreements and copyright laws are in
User Installed Software – An explicit policy governing the downloading and installation of
software by users is in place.
Outsourced Information System Services – Controls or validation measures to ensure
that third-party providers of information system services employ adequate security
controls in accordance with applicable laws, policies and established service level
agreements are in place.
Developer Security Testing – A security test and evaluation plan is in place,
implemented, and documents the results. Security test results may be used in support of
the security certification process for the delivered information system.
G. Personal Computer Security Practices – Personal computing devices include desktops,
laptops, notebooks, tablets, Personal Device Assistants (PDA), and other mobile devices.
1. Device Hardening – Operating system and application level updates, patches, and hot fixes are
applied as soon as they become available and are fully tested. Services on the computing
devices are only enabled where there is a demonstrated business need and only after a risk
2. Lock-Out for Inactive Computing Devices – The automatic locking of the computing device after
a period of inactivity is enforced.
3. Data Storage – Data that needs additional protection is stored on pre-defined servers, rather
than on computing devices, for both data protection and backup/recovery reasons.
Confidential, sensitive, and/or personal (notice-triggering) information is not stored on
computing devices without a careful risk assessment and adequate security measures.
H. Network Protection Practices
1. Network Protection – Network and communication protection policies and procedures are in
place. These documents outline the procedures to authorize all connections to network
services. Authorization is based on an evaluation of sensitive or critical business applications,
classification of data stored on the system, and physical location of the system (e.g., public
area, private access, secure access, etc.).
2. Boundary Protection – Equipment designed for public access (i.e. Web servers dispensing
public information) is protected. These are segregated from the internal networks that control
them. Access into internal networks by authorized staff is controlled to prevent unauthorized
3. Protect and Secure Network Infrastructure – Policies and procedures for technology upgrades,
network equipment (e.g., servers, routers, firewalls, switches), patches and upgrades, firewall
and server configurations, and server hardening, etc are in place.
4. Transmission Integrity and Confidentiality – Data is protected from unauthorized disclosure
during transmission. Data classification is used to determine what security measures to
employ, including encryption or physical measures.
I. Incident Response Practices
1. Incident Response – Incident response policies and procedures consistent with applicable laws
and policies are in place. These include but are not limited to identification of roles and
responsibilities, investigation, containment and escalation procedures, documentation and
preservation of evidence, communication protocols, and lessons learned.
2. Incident Reporting – Proper incident reporting policies and procedures are in place. These
include training employees and contractors to identify and report incidents, the reporting of
incidents immediately upon discovery, and preparation and submission of follow-up written
Disclaimer: The information in this document is intended for use as a guideline and does not constitute legal or professional advice. The information and suggestions have
been developed from sources believed to be reliable. However, ABIS accepts no legal responsibility for the correctness or completeness of this material.