Special Publication 800-115
Computer Security Division Information Technology Laboratory National Institute of Standards and Technology Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8930
An information security assessment is the process of determining how effectively an entity being assessed (e.g., host, system, network, procedure, person—known as the assessment object) meets specific security objectives.
Three types of assessment methods can be used to accomplish this—testing, examination, and interviewing. Testing is the process of exercising one or more assessment objects under specified conditions to compare actual and expected behaviors.
Examination is the process of checking, inspecting, reviewing, observing, studying, or analyzing one or more assessment objects to facilitate understanding, achieve clarification, or obtain evidence. Interviewing is the process of conducting discussions with individuals or groups within an organization to facilitate understanding, achieve clarification, or identify the location of evidence. Assessment results are used to support the determination of security control effectiveness over time.