OCTAVE (Operationally Critical Threat, Asset, and Vulnerability Evaluation) is a security framework for determining risk level and planning defenses against cyber assaults. The framework defines a methodology to help organizations minimize exposure to likely threats, determine the likely consequences of an attack and deal with attacks that succeed.
OCTAVE is designed to leverage the experience and expertise of people within the organization. The first step is to construct profiles of threats based on the relative risk that they pose. The process goes on to conduct a vulnerability assessment specific to the organization.
OCTAVE defines three phases:
- Phase 1: Build Asset-Based Threat Profiles
- Phase 2: Identify Infrastructure Vulnerabilities
- Phase 3: Develop Security Strategy and Plans
OCTAVE was developed in 2001 at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), for the United States Department of Defense. The framework has gone through several evolutionary phases since that time, but the basic principles and goals have remained the same. Two versions exist: OCTAVE-S, a simplified methodology for smaller organizations that have flat hierarchical structures, and OCTAVE Allegro, a more comprehensive version for large organizations or those with multilevel structures.
Criticisms of OCTAVE have cited its complexity and the fact that it does not produce a detailed quantitative analysis of security exposure.