Theses and Dissertations


Elaine Hulitt

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Vaughn Jr., Rayford B.

Committee Member

Dampier, David A.

Committee Member

Ramkumar, Mahalingham

Committee Member

Wright, Margaret B.

Committee Member

Warkentin, Merrill

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Computer Science

Degree Name

Master of Science


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Computer Science and Engineering


Continuously changing system configurations and attack methods make information system risk management using traditional methods a formidable task. Traditional qualitative approaches usually lack sufficient measurable detail on which to base confident, cost-effective decisions. Traditional quantitative approaches are burdened with the requirement to collect an abundance of detailed asset value and historical incident data and to apply complex calculations to measure the data precisely in work environments where there are limited resources to collect and process it. To ensure that safeguards (controls) are implemented to protect against a majority of known threats, industry leaders are requiring information processing systems to comply with security standards. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Federal Information Risk Management Framework (RMF) and the associated suite of guidance documents describe the minimum security requirements for non-national-security federal information and information systems as mandated by the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), enacted into law on December 17, 2002, as Title III of the E-Government Act of 2002. This study proposes using the Pathfinder procedure to mathematically model an information system FISMA-required security control state and an actual information system security control state. A comparison of these two security control states using the proposed method will generate a quantitative measure of the status of compliance of the actual system with the FISMA-required standard. The quantitative measures generated should provide information sufficient to plan risk mitigation strategy, track system compliance to standard, and allow for the discussion of system compliance with the FISMA-required standard in terms easily understood by participants at various levels of an organization without requiring all to have detailed knowledge of the internals of the security standard or the targeted system. The ability to clearly articulate system compliance status and risk mitigation requirements is critical to gaining the support of upper-level management whose responsibility it is to allocate funds sufficient to support government security programs.



Secure Architecture Modeling||Risk Analysis||Standards Compliance Modeling||FISMA||RMF||Pathfinder Networks