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Data Assessment


This component allows the auditor to identify what sensitive data exists for the organization, where it is stored, and how it is transferred.


Sensitive files are often stored across multiple devices with different levels of security. A data assessment allows the auditor to recommend secure storage solutions which best meet the organizations risk assessment and workflow needs. While the auditor has insight on some of this based on the Network Access and Network Mapping work, cross-staff understanding and agreement on what constitutes sensitive data will support later organizational change.

An adversary who obtains a laptop, workstation, or backup drive will be able to read or modify sensitive information on the device, even if that staff member has set a strong account password. This applies to threats involving loss, theft, and confiscation, but also to "checkpoint" scenarios in which they may only have access for a few minutes. Furthermore, in the event of a burglary or office raid, an adversary could obtain all sensitive information on the organization's devices, possibly even undetected.

Guiding Questions

    • What are the most important data sets to keep available? Are there backups?
    • What are the most important data sets to keep private?
    • How does the organization currently determine who should have access to data?
    • Is there currently anyone who has access to data who should not?
    • Does the staff agree on what constitutes sensitive data?
    • What data does each staff member need to be able to access in order to do their job?

Operational Security

  • Ensure that any physical notes/drawings are erased and destroyed once digitally recorded.
  • Ensure that any digital recordings of this process are kept secure and encrypted.
  • Consider who has physical and visual access to the room where this process takes place, and if the room can be secured if this activity may span long/overnight breaks.


    • Facilitation skills or experience is useful for these exercises
    • Carefully review the exercises you plan to use


    • A map of the staff's understanding of critical organizational data:
      • what that data is,
      • where it is stored,
      • who has access,
      • who needs access.