Implementing Technical Controls

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If you’re planning on taking the Security+ exam, you should have a basic understanding of control implementation methods such as technical controls using technology to reduce vulnerabilities.

For example, can you answer this question?

Q. Your organization issues users a variety of different mobile devices. However, management wants to reduce potential data losses if the devices are lost or stolen. Which of the following is the BEST technical control to achieve this goal?

A. Cable locks

B. Risk assessment

C. Disk encryption

D. Hardening the systems

More, do you know why the correct answer is correct and the incorrect answers are incorrect? The answer and explanation is available at the end of this post.

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One method of classifying security controls is based on how they are implemented. The three common implementation classifications are technical, management, and operational:

  • Technical controls use technology.
  • Management controls use administrative or management methods.
  • Operational controls are implemented by people in day-to-day operations.

Remember this

Security controls are classified as technical (implemented with technology), management (using administrative methods), and operational (for day-to-day operations).

Technical Controls

A technical control is one that uses technology to reduce vulnerabilities. An administrator installs and configures a technical control, and the technical control then provides the protection automatically.

Throughout the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide book, you’ll come across several examples of technical controls. The following list provides a few examples:

  • Encryption. Encryption is a strong technical control used to protect the confidentiality of data. This includes data transferred over a network and data stored on devices such as servers, desktop computers, and mobile devices.
  • Antivirus software. Once installed, the antivirus software provides protection against malware infection.
  • Intrusion detection systems (IDSs). An IDS can monitor a network or host for intrusions and provide ongoing protection against various threats.
  • Firewalls. Network firewalls restrict network traffic going in and out of a network.
  • Least privilege. The principle of least privilege specifies that individuals or processes are granted only the privileges they need to perform their assigned tasks or functions, but no more. Privileges are a combination of rights and permissions.

Implementing Technical Controls

The CompTIA Security+ exam focuses on many physical security and environmental controls. However, it’s important to realize that many of these are also technical controls. For example, a security system that can detect motion and raise an alarm without user intervention is a technical control designed to increase physical security. Similarly, fire suppression systems use technologies to detect fires, raise alarms, and take various other actions to contain or extinguish the fires, all without user intervention. Fire suppression systems are environmental technical controls.

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Remember this

Technical controls use technology to reduce vulnerabilities. Some examples include encryption, antivirus software, IDSs, firewalls, and the principle of least privilege. Technical physical security and environmental controls include motion detectors and fire suppression systems.


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Q. Your organization issues users a variety of different mobile devices. However, management wants to reduce potential data losses if the devices are lost or stolen. Which of the following is the BEST technical control to achieve this goal?

A. Cable locks

B. Risk assessment

C. Disk encryption

D. Hardening the systems

Answer is C. Disk encryption is a strong technical control that can mitigate potential data losses if mobile devices are lost or stolen.

Cable locks are preventive controls that can prevent the theft of mobile devices such as laptops, but they don’t protect the data after the device is stolen.

A risk assessment is a management control.

Hardening systems helps make them more secure than their default configuration, but doesn’t necessarily protect data after the device is lost.

See Chapter 2 of the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide for more information on control types and methods.

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