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Re: Business justification for pentesting
From: "Adam Chesnutt" <icetre () digitalfreezer net>
Date: Tue, 30 Aug 2005 15:47:42 -0400

On 30 Aug 2005 16:29:35 -0000, sectraq wrote
hi all,

a few classic question that i would appriciate any answers for. 
1- i would like to briefly know how to quantify information assets. 
In other words, i hear a pentester say: if a hacker breaks in ur 
network, u will loose up to 40000$ for example. how can he come up 
with such figures?

Well, to be honest. Many people and places just pull impressive sounding
figures out of their butt. I hear more than 80% of the statistics, including
this one, are exactly that. ;) 

But on a more serious note. One way to go about this is to figure out what the
normal amount of income generated by having the system do it's job optimally.
For example, if an online bookseller takes in 300 orders a day on average, and
each order averages $10. Then the web site in question takes in an average of
$3000/day. So if the machine is broken into then right there, you've got the
starting loss of 3k a day. now lets assume, this fictional company has a team
of 10 people, making an average of $30/hour.  That comes up to $300/hour. If
your machine is down for a full day and took 8 hours to repair, you have a net
loss of $5400. 

This is simple math. Of course, it's really hard sometimes to put price on
this stuff, sometimes it's easy. Sometimes it's even easier to just point to
another company that had similar problems and suggest their doom might become
yours. ie "Worldcom had a similar issue, and because of the liability, they
were succesfully sued for 10 million" 

2- are there any other means to justify pentesting for management 
except for $$$?

Problem is: That's all most management really cares about, The bottom line. 
Not just business loss, but appearances and only how appearances will affect
the stock price/sales figures/etc. You could conceivably sell it based on
being the responsible thing to do, but something tells me you'll be even more
successful with liability, and monetary scare tactics. 

3- are there any official statistics, figures etc. for justifying 
pentesting. ther more official it is the better.

Not that I'm aware of, maybe someone should create a global security testing
site, that continually scans the Internet looking for security problems and
publishes the statistics. Kinda like if you were to cross netcraft with a
smurf amplifier top 10 list. 

I could be wrong though, and maybe there is some kind of published statistics.
The problem is that usually along with security problems comes finger
pointing, blame assignment, and then the usual cover up. So I would have to
say, any real stats wouldn't be very trustworthy.

4- any other information you guys might find helpful in justifying a 
pentest would be appriciated.

They're great fun to charge $375/billable hour for months on end. ;) With the
usual, cleanup and reaudit process, you can keep it up for well over a year if
your good. 

I usually go for the whole liability/legal problems angle. Very quickly puts
the fear of god in the hearts of most businessmen. 

thnx in advance for ur help.


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