Threat Memo

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Before doing this assignment, be sure you are familiar with the General Instructions for Written Assignments found in the Course Information Module.

For this assignment, imagine that you are a cybersecurity consultant hired to identify the biggest threats to a company. You can choose any of the following companies:

  • Amazon
  • Microsoft
  • Cisco
  • Costco
  • Comcast
  • Boeing
  • Wells-Fargo Bank
  • Your local electric utility
  • Your local hospital

If you want to choose a different company, ask and you may be allowed to. Just be sure to ask early.

Write a memo to the CEO of the company describing what you believe are the three most serious threats to the company from cyberattacks. These could be attacks directly against the company, or attacks against others than have indirect effect on the company.

Remember from Module 1 that a threat has three elements: something bad that can happen to the company, an attacker that could make it happen, and a reason why the attacker would want to do it. Your description of each threat must include all three of those.

And when you describe “something bad that can happen”, describe the consequences to the company, don't describe the methods that the attackers used. For instance, don't say something about bad passwords or SQL injection. The CEO doesn't know what SQL injection is, and the CEO doesn't need to know that. The CEO needs to know what kind of damage the attack could cause to the company.

Along with the description of each threat, you must also tell the CEO a little bit about an attack that has happened to some other organization that is similar. The CEO needs to understand it is a real threat, not some imaginary threat that has never happened before.

Finally, don't try to tell the CEO what they should be doing to prevent the threats, just tell them about the threats. If they are happy with your work, you will get a follow-on contract where you can provide suggestions for what they can do to prevent them, but not now.

The format of the memo must follow the instructions in the ADMG385MemoFormatting.pdf document linked below. If you've taken ADMG 385 you've probably seen this. Note that the document is both instructions for how to write a memo, and an example of a memo. And notice how the memo is broken into paragraphs. Some students seem to have great difficulty breaking their writing into paragraphs, but it is much easier to read in smaller paragraphs. Do it!

The memo instructions talk about optional headings. You must use a separate heading for each of the three threats.

If you have letterhead that you can write your memo on, either from another class or from your own business or wherever, great, use it. Professional letterhead always makes a memo look better, and you are a professional cybersecurity consultant. But letterhead is not required for the assignment.

The description of each threat must be at least 150 words.

Like most written assignments, this must be submitted as a PDF file.

ADMG385MemoFormatting.pdfPreview the documentView in a new window

Grading

This assignment is worth 140 points, divided as follows:

  • 20 points for following the format in ADMG385MemoFormatting.pdf. Failure to use separate headings for each of the three threats will be a deduction of 5 of these points.
  • 40 points for each threat. If you write less than 150 words for a threat, then at most you will receive 20 points for that threat, and if you write less than 100 words, you will receive zero points for that threat. The description must include all three elements of a threat and an example of a similar real attack as described above. Failure to include any of those four items will be a deduction of 10 points of the 40 points for that threat.

I will be picky on this assignment about spell checking and other errors, The audience for this memo is not your instructor, the audience is a CEO of a corporation that is paying you a crazy amount of money to write this memo. By writing carefully and accurately, you show them you are worth it and should get that follow-on contract!

With that in mind, you get one “free” typo, but every typo after that will cost 4 points. Proofread your work!

If you have any concerns about your writing, please contact the writing center for assistance. That's what they are there for.

Also, since this is the first “essay” assignment, be sure to read the post about plagiarism in the Course Information Module

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