Home > Articles

Security Assessment and Testing

In this sample chapter form CISSP Cert Guide, 3rd Edition, you will review assessment and testing strategies, security control testing, collection of security process data, analysis and reporting of test outputs, and internal, external, and third-party audits.

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Security assessment and testing covers designing, performing, and analyzing security testing. Security professionals must understand these processes to protect their assets from attacks.

Security assessment and testing requires a number of testing methods to determine an organization’s vulnerabilities and risks. It assists an organization in managing the risks in planning, deploying, operating, and maintaining systems and processes. Its goal is to identify any technical, operational, and system deficiencies early in the process, before those deficiencies are deployed. The earlier you can discover those deficiencies, the cheaper it is to fix them.

This chapter discusses assessment and testing strategies, security control testing, collection of security process data, analysis and reporting of test outputs, and internal, external, and third-party audits.

Foundation Topics: Design and Validate Assessment and Testing Strategies

Security professionals must ensure that their organization plans, designs, executes, and validates appropriate security assessment, testing, and audit strategies to ensure that risks are mitigated. Security professionals must take a lead role in helping the organization implement the appropriate security assessment, testing, and auditing strategies. The organization should rely on industry best practices, national and international standards, and vendor-recommended practices and guidelines to ensure that the strategies are planned and implemented appropriately.

Organizations will most likely establish a team that will be responsible for executing any assessment, testing, and auditing strategies. The team should consist of individuals who understand security assessment, testing, and auditing but should also include representatives from other areas of the organization. Verifying and validating security is an ongoing activity that never really stops. But security professionals should help guide an organization in terms of when a particular type of assessment or testing is best performed.

Security Testing

Security testing ensures that a control is functioning properly. Both manual and automatic security testing can be performed. Security testing should be carried out on a regular basis. Security testing should be performed on all types of devices.

When performing security testing, security professionals should understand that it will affect the performance of the devices involved in the security test. Security testing cannot always be performed during non-peak hours. Only performing this testing during non-peak hours could also result in skewed results.

Security professionals should consider the following factors when performing security testing:

  • Impact

  • Difficulty

  • Time needed

  • Changes that could affect the performance

  • System risk

  • System criticality

  • Security test availability

  • Information sensitivity level

  • Likelihood of technical failure or misconfiguration

Once security tests are performed, security professionals should analyze the results and make appropriate recommendations based on those results. In addition, the security testing tools themselves can be configured to send alerts or messages based on preconfigured triggers or filters. Without proper analysis, security testing does not provide a benefit to the organization.

Security Assessments

Security assessments are the reviews of the security status and reports for a system, application, or other environment. During this assessment, a security professional will review the results of the security tests, identify any vulnerabilities, and make recommendations for remediation. Security testing leads to security assessments.

Security professionals should prepare a formal security assessment report that includes all of the identified issues and recommendations. Also, they should document the actions taken based on the recommendations.

Security Auditing

Security auditing is the process of providing the digital proof when someone who is performing certain activities needs to be identified. Like security assessment and testing, it can be performed internally, externally, and via a third party. Security auditing is covered in more detail later in this chapter and in Chapter 7, “Security Operations.”

Internal, External, and Third-party Security Assessment, Testing, and Auditing

Security assessment, testing, and auditing occur in three manners: internal, external, and third-party. Internal assessment, testing, and auditing are carried out by personnel within the organization. External assessment, testing, and auditing are carried out by a vendor or contractor that is engaged by the company.

Sometimes third-party assessment, testing, and auditing are performed by a party completely unrelated to the company and not previously engaged by it. This scenario often arises as a result of having to comply with some standard or regulation or when accreditation or certification is involved. Many certifying or regulating bodies may require engagement of a third party that has not had a previous relationship with the organization being assessed. In this case, the certifying body will work with the organization to engage an approved third party.

Companies should ensure that, at minimum, internal and external testing and assessments are completed on a regular basis.

Pearson IT Certification Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Pearson IT Certification and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Pearson IT Certification products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.pearsonitcertification.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020