I’ve been trying to come up with a list of attributes that a security solution needs to have to be complete and sufficient. The idea is to develop a set of attributes that can be used when analyzing security to see if it fulfills the needs of the situation. Obviously, risk management is the most important aspect of security analysis, but if we can distil a complex design into a small set of attributes that appropriate solutions generally would have then we could use that to analyze how good our solution is. This would be helpful when analyzing security solutions, be they security features in an operating system, an architectural design of a network, a physical security infrastructure, or any other type of security solution. The attributes also need to be a parsimonious set. Attributes of a solution need to be less complicated than the solution itself to be useful for analysis, otherwise why abstract the solution into its attributes?
I wrote these down a while ago and have been hoping I could refine them by doing what I always do – mull them over mentally for a while. However, I can’t seem to come up with anything better, so I thought I would open up the thinking to the community and see if anyone else has any better ideas.
- Comprehensive – The solution needs to cover the security issues it purports to resolve. It does not need to cover all security problems, but in conjunction with all the other solutions it should contribute to solving the problem. If the solution leaves holes uncovered something else must be available to address those holes.
- Comprehensible – The person intended to use the feature or implement the solution should be able to understand how it works, how to implement it, and how to address common problems.
- Adaptable – The solution should be flexible enough to work in several environments with differing risk management strategies. A solution that is not appropriate for all environments should not be mandated for all environments. It should be adaptable for each environment.
- Centrally manageable – A solution should be manageable centrally. Essentially, all configuration, enforcement, and reporting, should be centralizable.
- Enforceable – A solution must be enforceable. A solution that can be turned off or disabled by those who should be protected by or against is unacceptable. If a solution is accidentally disabled in violation of a policy it needs to be turned back on automatically.
- Reportable – It should be possible to generate compliance reports about all aspects of a solution. At a minimum reports should contain the status of the solution in all places where it should be applied. Variance reports, showing out of compliance areas, are also important.