Information Assurance Essay Sample
- Word count: 2613
- Category: information
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Information Assurance Essay Sample
Information Assurance (IA) is all about managing the risks to information assets. Saying it more specifically, IA practitioners seek to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data and their delivery systems, whether the data are in storage, processing, or transit, and whether threatened by harmful intent or accident.
Information assurance is closely related to information security and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, however it also includes reliability and lays emphasis on strategic risk management over tools and tactics. In addition to defending against viruses and other malicious hackers, IA includes other corporate governance issues such as, audits, business continuity, disaster recovery, compliance and the most important privacy. Further, while information security draws primarily from computers, IA is interdisciplinary and draws from fraud examination, forensic science, military science, management science, systems engineering, security engineering, and criminology in addition to computers. Therefore, IA is best thought of as a superset of information security.
Thus briefly IA may be defined as “Measures that protect and defend information and information systems by ensuring their availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and non repudiation. These measures include provide for restoration of information systems by incorporating protection, detection, and reaction capabilities.
Introduction to Information Assurance
Most programs delivering capability to do the war fighter of business domains will use information technology to enable or deliver that capability. For those programs, developing a comprehensive and effective approach to IA if a fundamental requirement and will be key in successfully achieving program objectives. IA thus can be said is, measures that protect and defend information and information system from malicious threat that provides availability authentication. Program managers and functional proponents for programs should be familiar with statutory and regulatory requirements governing information assurance, and understand the major tasks involved in developing an IA organization, defining IA requirements, incorporating IA in the program’s architecture , developing an acquisition IA strategy (when required), conducting appropriate IA testing, and achieving IA certification. Thus the programmers of IA aim for taking steps towards effective IA defenses in depth in a net-centric environment.
Process of Information Assurance
The IA process typically begins with the classification and enumeration of the information technology (IT) assets to be protected. Next step of this process is that the IA practitioner will perform a risk assessment. Basically this assessment considers both the probability and impact of the undesired events like malicious hacking or threats. The probability component is subdivided into vulnerabilities and threats, and may be measured in terms of annualized rate of occurrence (ARO). The impact component is usually measured in terms of cost, specifically, single loss expectancy (SLE). The product of these values is the total risk, often measured in terms of annual loss expectancy (ALE).
This can be expressed as:
Annualized Loss Expectancy (ALE) = SLE * Annualized Rate of Occurrence (ARO)
Thus an IA practitioner will develop a risk management plan based on the risk assessment. This plan proposes measures to some important terms like eliminating, mitigating, accepting, or transferring the risks, consider prevention, detection, and response. A framework, such as ISO 17799, is a typically utilized in designing this risk management plan successfully and efficiently. Countermeasures may include some security tools such as anti-virus and firewalls software, policies and procedures hardening of configuration and regular backups, and some trainings like (IA) security awareness education, or reconstructing such as forming an computer security incident response team(CSIRT) or computer emergency response team (CERT). The return on investment (ROI) of each countermeasure is carefully considered. Thus, the IA practitioner does not seek to eliminate all risks and malicious occurrences, were that possible, but to manage them in the most cost effective-way.
After the implementation of risk management plan, it is tested and then further evaluated, perhaps by means of audits. The IA process is cyclic in nature, and the plan involving the risk management and assessment are regularly improved and revised on the basis of the data gained from the evaluation.
Information Assurance Programs
The mission for running the IA programs and offering variety of courses like IA awareness is to ensure the DOD’s vital information resources are secured and protected by integrating IA activities to retrieve a secure net-centric GIG operations and enabling information superiority by applying a deep depth defense technology which includes the capabilities of people, operations, and technology to establish a multi-layer, and multi dimensional protection of the information. Programs like IA awareness and other education related to IA have played a very important role in defending the information against threats. It can be roughly said that it was started during the year 2003-2006 on a large scale. Nowadays these programs are running in large scale in military camps and in several other federal and intelligence services where the protection of the information is must. Currently there are a number of universities providing the bachelor and master degrees in Information Assurance some of which are College of Business, Idaho State University, University of Dallas, Florida Institute of Technology and many other institutes are present worldwide. With the partnership of the government and the academia, the National Information Assurance Education and Training Program (NIETP) provides a wide range of services, it operates under the national authority. The (IA) programs mainly lay stress on following important areas:
- Information Awareness Toolkit
- CNSS Training and Education
- Cyber Defensive Exercise
Information Awareness Toolkit
This part basically deals with the encouragement of (IA) education and training with federal government, the idea of “tool kit” was developed by the members of the National Information Assurance Education and Training program (NIETP). The kit basically includes CDs, videos and pamphlets for an easy user interface and which makes this very useful and easy for everyone to understand it.
CNSS Training and Education
The Committee on National Security continues to chair the committee under the authority established by NSD-42. The secretary of Defense and the director of Central Intelligence are responsible for developing and implementation of government-wide policies, principles, standards, and guidelines for the security of the systems with national security information. The CNSS provides a forum for the discussion of policy issues, sets national policy, and promulgates direction, operational procedures, and guidance for the security of national security systems through the CNSS Issuance System. National security systems contain classified information for
- Involve intelligence activities
- Involve cryptographic activities related to national security
- Involve command and control of military forces
- Involve equipment that is an integral part of a weapon or weapons system (is critical to the direct fulfillment of military or intelligence missions)
- Are critical to the direct fulfillment of military or intelligence missions
Cyber Defensive Exercise
The Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX) serves as the final project for high-level computer science majors enrolled in the United States Military Academy (USMA) assuring the information. The main aim of (CDX) is to strengthen the knowledge of cadets and midshipmen have acquired during their courses that addresses the defense of information systems. The students are required to make a plan, design to take part in this education plan including applications, and various operating systems, and the plans must address the issue of maintaining integrity, confidentiality, and availability of all sources and services, this event is sponsored by The National Security Agency’s Director of Information Assurance. (CDX) is a part of Defense-Wide Information Assurance Program (DIAP). This part includes various trainings and tests increasing the knowledge of the person about Information Assurance and other systems which defend information.
Information Assurance (IA) Strategy
This part plays a very vital role in defense of information using (IA). Information Assurance Strategy basically includes 10 important steps to be performed which are necessary for building a safe and defense the information from various malicious threats, so the following steps are to be performed:
- Program Category and Life cycle Status: Identify the Acquisition category of the program. Identify current acquisition life cycle phase and next distant decision. Identify whether the system is being used for “Mission Critical Information System” or “Mission essential Information system” in accordance with DoD Instruction 5000.2, enclosure 4. Include a graphic representation of the program’s schedule.
- Mission Assurance Category (MAC) and confidentiality Level: The two primary steps to be taken are that determine the privacy level and identify the system’s MAC in the applicable capabilities document, or as determined by the system User Representative on behalf of the information owner, in accordance with DoD Instruction 8500.2.
- System Description: The system which is being acquired should be provided with a high-level overview. Graphics like (block diagram) must be used showing major elements and subsystems that are the part and make up the system or service being acquired and also showing how they are connected to each other. It is also important to describe the system’s function, and summarize significant information exchange requirements (IER) and interfaces with other IT or systems, as well as primary databases supported.
- Threat Assessment: Methods should be described which determine threats to the system (such as System Threat Assessment), and whether the IT was included in the overall weapon system assessment. In the case of an AIS application, it should be described whether there were specific threats unique to the system or not. For MAIS programs, utilization of the “information Operations Capstone Threat Capabilities Assessment” (DIA Doc # DI-1577-12-03) is required by DoD Instruction 5000.2.
- Risk Assessment: Plans including projects for regimen of risk assessments should be mentioned, including a summary of how many completed risk assessments were conducted.
- Information Assurance Requirements: Identify the applicable sets of Baseline IA Controls from DoDI 8500.2 that will be implemented. Whether any specific IA requirements are identified in the approved governing requirements documents (e.g. Capstone Requirements Document, Initial Capabilities Document, Capabilities Design Document, or Capabilities Production Document). The cost of IA requirements implementation including with certification should be described and also the overall program budget should be shown.
- Acquisition Strategy: A summary should be provided showing how information assurance addressed in the program’s overall acquisition strategy document. The Request for Proposal (RFP) for the System Development and Demonstration should be described. In addition, describe how the RPF communicates the requirement for the persons that are trained, and appropriately certified in accordance with DoDD 8570.1, in IA.
- IA Testing: In this part it is discussed that how IA testing has been integrated into the program’s test and evaluation’s planning, and incorporated into program testing documentation, such as the Test & Evaluation Master Plan.
- IA Shortfalls: Proposed solutions and any of the significant IA shortfalls and/or mitigation strategies must be identified primarily. Impact of failure to resolve any shortfall or malfunctioning in terms of program resources and schedule, inability to achieve threshold performance and system or war fighter vulnerability should be specified. A recommendation identifying the organization with the responsibility and authority to address the shortfall should be provided which will be responsible for taking necessary steps while the malfunctioning of the system or when the (IA) is not working properly.
- Point of Contact: The name and contact information for the program management office individual responsible for the acquisition IA Strategy document should be provided.
Information Assurance Technical Framework (IATF)
The framework of the Information Assurance defines an infrastructure that how the system of protecting data is carried away safely and efficiently. Most important feature of the (IATF) is the Wireless Networks Security Framework; this section is incorporated because the IATF also handles many security concerns and secure infrastructure elements that also affect wireless communications. Exposure of wireless communications in the radio frequency (RF) transmission environment, and the portability of computer processing and storage that wireless connectivity provides, add another set of vulnerabilities to the vulnerabilities of wired network systems. This section will present the areas of security where wireless communication presents additional vulnerabilities, different customer requirements, and different, although related, security concerns.
Information Assurance (IA) Vulnerabilities
The word “vulnerability” defines the extent of damaging a thing that is how much the thing is safe from malicious acts or any other threat of damaging. Vulnerabilities in (IA) can be explained under following heads:
- Physical Vulnerabilities
- Vulnerabilities to Electromagnetic Attack and,
- Cyber vulnerabilities.
Although our life is running between the physical and cyber dimensions the physical dimensions is still very important. Physical attacks against key nodes with disproportionate effects are old age military problems. Protecting these primitive weapons can still be the most effective. Critical network nodes, satellite ground stations, and other dedicated military and commercial infrastructure can be attacked directly with high explosives or other physical means to disrupt the operations of military. Attacks against military forces, therefore, can be mounted in areas far removed from the location of operations. Therefore these nodes would be attractive targets and, if successfully attacked, their vulnerability may have a disproportionate effect on military operations. At the other end of the spectrum, if any enemy forces capture one of the many individual computers that will proliferate the future battlefield possibly along with the legitimate user adversaries may be able to aces the battlefield networks and use that access to disrupt operations of the military.
The term “electromagnetic threats” covers a wide range of possible weapons that includes “directed energy”, electromagnetic pulse (EMP), and electronic warfare. These weapons are able to incapacitate or destroy electronic systems without physical attack or explosives. The effects of one form of directed energy, electromagnetic pulse (EMP), were firstly observed during the last U.S. atmospheric nuclear test in 1962 (named “Starfish Prime”), which severely damaged the electrical systems in Hawaii-800 miles away. EMP of this type is generated by nuclear weapons, can produce a large electric fields over significant areas (which depends upon the altitude of weapon detonation) and has been recognized as a threat to electronic systems. EMP also poses threats to the satellite. Thus it can be concluded that EMP of strong and increased power and can really damage satellites, electrical systems, electrical components and other components like microchip and other circuit devices and chips used in the computer systems and various other equipments thus creating a hurdle in the way in the operations of the military. Advance tools, laser pointers, fax machines, printers, and other scanners all use a form of directed energy thus they can easily be affected by (EMP).
Attacking through cyber technology is an attractive and alternative method to defeat defense technology of information systems. They offer the attacker the potential to play on a near level playing field and the effects can be disproportionate to the effort involved. The attacker can be a hacker, a programmer, an insider, a terrorist, a hostile nation state, or a combination of these. When considering military operations, the motive for cyber attacks can range from creating a mischief, to hacking into sites to make a political statement, to espionage, to the disruption of operations. Since all attackers use the same or similar techniques, identification of the motives is usually very difficult. Additionally, as the number of people with computer skills has increased the tools of hacking and techniques have become easily available to anyone with access to the internet, the degree of technical sophistication required to successfully hack into a system has been reduced. Law enforcement methods for investigating intrusion attempts are cumbersome and time consuming and would prove unsatisfactory in time of war-especially if battlefield systems were attacked. Thus a programmer is required which monitor each and every small change and which is able to fight the hacker or insider.