Total Information Assurance
Information Security is a concept reasonably well
understood in the IT circles. It is defined as
"Protecting the "Confidentiality", "Integrity" and
"Availability" of Information"
BS7799 practitioners adopted this
definition (CIA model) and worked towards checking the measures
adopted by an organization to achieve this objective of
protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of
information. This was continued in the practice of ISO 27001
Over the years ISO 27001 has
evolved and a section on "Compliance of Regulatory Aspects" has
been added to the traditional ISO 27001 specifications. However
there is a lack of proper guidance on defining the scope of an
ISO 27001 assessment and hence ISO 27001 does not fully meet the
requirements of an assessment of risks arising out of non
compliance of ITA 2008 or similar laws addressing Computer
misuse/abuse or digital contracts/signature or E Commerce
As a result the IS community
evolved a new term "Information Assurance" which extended the
scope of IS. Information Assurance (IA) was defined as "Measures
for protecting the "Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability,
Authenticity and Non Repudiation of information".
The risk assessment and mitigation
policies of IS practitioners correspondingly moved from the
CIA model to this CIA++ model.
IA did recognize that IS was
a management responsibility and not limited to IT. In this
respect it did recognize the need for IS to go beyond "Technical
Security aspects" to "Management of Security". Hence IA was an
improved concept though in many circles IS and IA are terms used
synonymously. The COBIT framework of IA appears to address this
issue effectively and distinguish itself from the ISO 27001
Though this CIA++ model used the
term "Non Repudiation" as an essential goal of securing
information, it was not however clear if "Non Repudiation" was
strictly a "Technical" aspect or a "Legal Aspect".
Hence even the term IA appears to
be not fully reflective of what Naavi has been advocating as
"Three Dimensional Approach to Information Security" which is
inclusive of Technical, Legal and Behavioural Science aspects.
The concept which is nearest to
Naavi's approach is the model framework for establishing and
evaluating information security/information assurance programs
by John Mccumber, introduced in 1991 and often referred to
as the "Mccumber Cube" which is depicted below.
The concept of this model is that, in developing
information assurance systems, organizations must consider the
interconnectedness of all the different factors that impact
It propounded that to devise a robust information
assurance program, one must consider not only the security
goals of the program, but also how these goals relate
specifically to the various states in which
information can reside in a system and the full range of
available security safeguards that must be
considered in the design.
The McCumber model is said to help one to
remember to consider all important design aspects without
becoming too focused on any one in particular (i.e., relying
exclusively on technical controls at the expense of requisite
policies and end-user training).
Naavi's approach has been to redefine the end
objective of Information Security by stating the goal as
"Protecting the Information Owner" which
is inclusive of but beyond "Protecting the Information".
It recognizes that the Information owner by
virtue of possessing the information is exposed to certain risks
of "liability" and "Security" should mean "Protecting the
information owner" from such liability. The liability arises
because the information was not secured properly and hence
"protecting the information owner from liability" includes
"Protecting the information".
Hence Naavi's approach adds an additional layer
to IS approach. Since "Liabilities" arise because of laws
applicable to information handling, this approach was recognized
as "Techno Legal Information Security".
After pursuing this "Techno Legal Approach to
Information Security" for several years, Naavi realized the
importance of motivating people in an organization to adopt
information security as a culture. It was no use to have the
best of technical tools and the law of the land. People still
had to be motivated. Hence Naavi adopted the "Three Dimensional
Model" of Information Security incorporating "Behavioural
Science" as the third dimension of information security
implementation in an organization.
order to provide clear guidance to IS practitioners, Naavi
postulated that IS Motivation needs to be addressed over five
different elements namely "Awareness", Acceptance",
"Availability", "Mandate" and "Inspiration". These five elements
were placed as walls of a Pentagon that was required to be
completed for a good IS implementation program.
The "Theory of IS Motivation" and the "Pentagon
Model" gave a new direction to the IS approach.
The model went beyond employee training
(Awareness) into obtaining employee commitment (acceptance) and
creating an environment where employees would feel inspired.
Similarly the "Mandate" included both external legal mandate as
well as internal HR mandate. The internal mandate and
inspirational promotion suggested a "Carrot and Stick" approach
to ensure that the people used the security tools made available
(Availability) to achieve the security objectives. All technical
aspects of the CIA++ approach to security were codified as
"Tools" which are made "Available" by the organization. (P.S:
The term "Availability" is used both in TISM as well as in CIA
principle but with different meanings)
The three dimensional approach of Naavi to IS
therefore presented a different approach to the existing
approaches which included "people" as a factor of IS
In all the above approaches the offer from the IS
community to an organization was that "Here is an IS/IA
framework. If you comply, you are compliant. If not, you are non
This either 1 or 0 approach meant that before an
organization embarked on an IS audit, they should be reasonably
sure of their readiness. Otherwise there was a definite risk of
an audit which would end in a negative report which the
management would find a waste of resources as well as an
additional risk of documentation of the "awareness of non
compliance". Many managements were therefore hesitant of
undertaking an "Audit" or looked for "Pliable auditors".
There was therefore a need to find a method by
which one could break up the ideal information security
implementation into smaller implementation milestones. In other
words like in the CMMI approach there had to be "Levels" in IS
implementation. However purists in IS found this concept of
"Levels" in information security unacceptable since we accept
the old adage "Security is as weak as its weakest link".
While there is no two thoughts about the efficacy
of this old adage, Naavi still felt the need to find a method of
breaking up the security implementation into small dozes for
companies which cannot make a one single leap to IS compliance.
The thought was inspired by observing the difficulty of applying
HIPAA-HITECH framework to an Indian hospital which is in the
nascent stage of IT implementation.
HIPAA compliance is not mandatory for Indian
hospitals but reasonable information security is a legal
compulsion under Section 43A of ITA 2008. However Reasonable
Security for a hospital under ITA 2008 cannot be much farther
from HIPAA-HITECH framework.
Rather than suggesting the hospitals, that they
should adopt the entire HIPAA framework in one single step or
remain non-Hipaa compliant Naavi has now tried to find a way to
sub divide the IS implementation by creating levels based on the
The Total Information Assurance Framework
(TIAF) developed by Naavi now is depicted as the "Naavi
Pyramid" as follows:
The Naavi Pyramid divides the Total Information
Assurance based on the three dimensional pentagon model of IS
motivation into five progressively implementable levels based on
the well known five principles of Information Security accepted
by the current IS and IA practitioners.
The five principles of Information Assurance have
been placed in this model as five hierarchial levels starting
from "Availability" through "Integrity","Confidentiality",
Authentication" and "Non Repudiation". The hierarchy of levels
move from the easiest to the more difficult aspects of IS/IA
implementation. The five elements of the TISM pentagon run
through all the five levels but with different objectives.
To explain the concept further, at level I, the
organization is only addressing "Availability of Information at
the right time" as the objective. Denial of Access prevention as
well as DRP and BCP are parts of this Level. However "Digital
Signature" or "Two factor authentication" is not within the
objectives of this level.
At Level II, organization will implement measures
to maintain "Data Integrity" by introducing version controls,
hash tables etc. However "E-Audit" under Section 7A is still not
the objective under Level II.
Level III addresses the "Confidentiality"
"Authentication Control". For example, HIPAA privacy belongs to
Level III while HIPAA security belongs to Level IV.
At Level V, all the technical, legal and HR
measures are benchmarked to the legal requirements and every
transaction needs to be capable of standing the test of judicial
scrutiny. The evidentiary management requirements as well as
managerial responsibilities such as the due diligence
responsibilities under Section 85 of ITA 2008 belong to this
At each of the five levels the five TISM elements
(Awareness, Acceptance, Availability, Mandate and Inspiration)
will also undergo changes since the objectives change.
At the end of the Level V, the organization would
have achieved a level of security which will also pass the test
of a HIPAA-HITECH audit or ITA 2008 audit or ISO 27001 audit or
the COBIT Audit.
It may be necessary to consider a further sub
division of each level into perhaps A/B/C stages indicating
"Adoption", "Implementation" and "Achievement" as the stages of
achievement within each level. The fine distinction between
these sub divisions may be left to the auditor to judge from the
"Commitment" shown by the management, the "Ability" of the work
force and "Sustainability" of what has been implemented.
This hierarchial approach to Information
Assurance provides the management with some realizable goals and
a perceivable return on investment at each level. It makes a
"Modular Approach" to Information assurance possible. Hence this
approach is titled Total Information Assurance Framework For
Modular Implementation (TIAF4MI) This is a huge motivational
factor for any management and hence has a better probability of
For actual implementation, there is still a need
for different parameters to be identified as a check list. This
is done through a list of IA specifications on the lines of IISF
309 suggested by Naavi. This specification list is still
relevant under the Total Information Assurance Framework but the
objectives of each specification changes from level to level.
Detailed specification list under TIAF4MI is being
developed by Ujvala Consultants Pvt Ltd for its own
The TIAF4MI is therefore an approach which
incorporates the best practices inherent in the current IS and
IA practices and increases the acceptability amongst corporate
managers. Hopefully the industry will respond positively to this
new approach to Information Security and Information Assurance.
19th Nov 2012
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