Security Attribute Evaluation Method: 
A Cost-Benefit Approach

Author: Shawn A. Butler

Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2002), pp. 232-240.

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Conducting cost-benefit analyses of architectural attributes such as security has always been difficult, because the benefits are difficult to assess.  Specialists usually make security decisions, but program managers are left wondering whether their investment in security is well spent.  This paper summarizes the results of using a cost-benefit analysis method called SAEM to compare alternative security designs in a financial and accounting information system.  The case study presented in this paper starts with a multi-attribute risk assessment that results in a prioritized list of risks.  Security specialists estimate countermesaure benefits and how the organization's risks are reduced.  Using SAEM, security design alternatives are compared with the organization's current selection of security technologies to see if a more cost-effective solution is possible.  The goal of using SAEM is to help information-system stakeholders decide whether their security investment is consistent with the expected risks.

Brought to you by Composable Software Systems Research Group in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

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