Threat modeling is a core element of information security practice. Software engineering commonly uses it to identify threats and vulnerabilities, determine-resistant countermeasures, and structure a cybersecurity strategy. Threat modeling can be applied to a wide range of threats to information systems, including hardware, software, and humans. Threat models are particularly useful for managing risks associated with introducing wireless technology into an existing network. The threat modeling process involves collecting information about the system, thoroughly reviewing this information, and then making decisions to structure countermeasures. The goal is to find threats and vulnerabilities that may be present and determine appropriate resources for responding to these threats.
What is Threat Modeling?
Threat modeling is a technique or a collection of techniques that cybersecurity practitioners can use to understand the nature and extent of threats in information systems and how to mitigate them. The fundamental threat modeling process involves collecting information about the system, thoroughly reviewing this information, and then making decisions on how to structure countermeasures. Threat modeling may also be part of a project risk management plan.
Threat Modeling methodologies and techniques
There are many varieties of threat modeling methodologies and techniques which one may use to conduct a threat analysis. The following are some threat modeling methodologies and techniques:
STRIDE is a threat detection model created by Microsoft engineers, which is meant to guide the analysis of vulnerabilities in a system. STRIDE is positioned to be utilized with a hazard model of the system to be analyzed, making it perfect for analyzing individual devices.
It denotes various types of threats it covers, which are:
Spoofing-users or programs pretending to be another
Tampering- attackers, modified components or code
Repudiation- threat events are or not logged or monitored
Information disclosure - data is leaked or exposed
Denial of service (DoS)- services or products are overloaded with traffic to prevent legitimate use
Elevation of privilege- cyberattackers grant themselves undeserved privileges to gain more control over a system.
PASTA is a methodology designed to relate vital business requirements to technical requirements. Its steps guide teams to identify, count, and rate threats. The steps of the PASTA threat model are to define business objectives, define the technical scope of assets and components, apply decomposition to find out application controls, analyze risks according to threat intelligence, detect vulnerabilities, enumerate and model attacks, and analyze and defend countermeasures.
The Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) is a scoring system based on known vulnerabilities. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed this system, and it's the framework used to standardize the creation of risk analysis by the National Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST). This system allows security services to assess direct impacts, identify possible consequences, and identify related countermeasures. It assists specialists in securing threat intelligence from others. CVSS is used to determine the inherent hazards of a vulnerability and the consequences of its risks because the vulnerability was first discovered. It also includes measures that allow security teams to adjust risk scores based on individual computer system configurations.
Visual, Agile, and Simple Threat (VAST) is a visual, agile, and straightforward threat modeling method based on the ThreatModeler platform. Large enterprise implementations often rely on VAST across the enterprise to obtain actionable and efficient results. Along with DevOps, VAST can be integrated to help the IT structure identify relevant infrastructural and operational problems. Implementing VAST requires constructing two threat models: The application threat model enables an app security process-flow diagram to represent the architectural side of the problem.
The operational threat model uses an attack graph to demonstrate how the attacker will look from his perspective.
The objective of this methodology is to improve vulnerability identification and threat modeling. It approaches vulnerability management from the User-Centric Security (UCS) perspective. It focuses on identifying the most common vulnerabilities, is easy to use and implement, and can be customized. It also provides a mechanism for remediation that allows the security team to raise awareness of vulnerabilities.
Application of Threat Modeling
A threat model is a bird's-eye view of an organization's actual or potential security vulnerabilities and threats that could exploit them. The following are some of the applications of threat modeling:
Threat modeling can help designers of new systems or products decide how to secure their products from the beginning. It emphasizes identifying threats early on in the development life cycle so that the designers can incorporate security measures and countermeasures into the design of a new product or system. This approach can help prevent threats and vulnerabilities from going unnoticed, helps to identify high-risk areas, and ultimately reduces risks associated with cyberattacks.
Threat modeling helps the business determine which threats are likely to occur and how the business will react in case a threat occurs. It also helps to identify specific risks and prioritize efforts toward defending against them.
Security specialists can use threat modeling when performing risk analysis on existing systems or products. It can help identify weaknesses, evaluate countermeasures, and prioritize remediation efforts based on identified threats.
Threat modeling can be used by security specialists when the current vulnerability management process cannot adequately identify the risk. In such situations, threat modeling may identify and prioritize risks and evaluate possible countermeasures.
Identifying threats is a key project step during SDLCs and when organizations work on detection/prevention strategies. This process can be applied to identify threats and countermeasures in large existing systems.
Threat modeling is also used as a foundation for threat-related security features of a product or system (e.g., firewall, malware protection, encryption). It helps developers understand the requirements of different security features and how they could be implemented to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Threat modeling can be used to define the resource requirements of a security monitoring system. In case a system is exposed to a high-risk threat at some time (e.g., a large-scale distributed denial-of-service attack), the frequency, volume, and latency of events must be calculated to manage the resources of such systems effectively.
How security architects employ threat modeling
Here are some ways that security architects make use of threat modeling:
Security architects use threat modeling to identify vulnerabilities in the design of a system and then recommend ways to make the design more secure. They can also use threat modeling to evaluate whether the security processes in place at the organization work as intended.
Security architects and engineers can use threat modeling as a guide for testing different security controls in a low-fidelity manner, such as pen tests. This can help detect weaknesses in the design or implementation of security controls and allow the engineer to make adjustments before deploying the system.
Security architects and engineers can use threat modeling to help better understand their organization's risk mitigation strategies. They can ensure that the strategy addresses relevant threats without missing any significant ones.
Security architects and security engineers can use threat modeling to guide the design of a security operations center (SOC). Threat modeling can identify potential sources of high-value events and help SOC personnel prioritize the alerts they receive from anomaly detection systems. It can also help identify the resources needed to operate the SOC and ensure that the security organization has adequate resources to respond effectively to incidents.
Security architects and engineers can use threat modeling to determine their organization's Cyber Emergency Response Plan (CERP) strategy for responding to incidents of interest. Threat modeling can help identify the threats the organization is most likely to face and determine which ones should be high on the response team's priority list.
Security architects can use threat modeling to design a comprehensive and comprehensive security policy that will injunctively affect all security personnel within the organization.
Security architects can use threat modeling to evaluate the effectiveness of existing security controls and identify where additional resources are needed to improve security.
Benefits of threat modeling to businesses
Threat modeling allows organizations to identify strengths and weaknesses in their security architecture, prioritizing efforts toward protecting their systems from potential cyberattacks.
Threat modeling helps businesses to identify threats and analyze the security of their systems to prevent future attacks and vulnerabilities. If threats occur, they can be dealt with quickly and effectively by employing appropriate countermeasures. This approach helps organizations reduce risks associated with cyberattacks.
Businesses also benefit from improved communication between different teams involved in developing or testing a product or system (e.g., software developers, system architects, security specialists, software assurance experts). If the threat model includes a specific threat, the risk of overlooking it can be significantly reduced.
High-risk threats can be prioritized more effectively with threat modeling, thanks to the ability of the model to identify the resources needed to address that threat. This allows organizations to allocate the resources needed to deal with complex threats, leading to effective prevention strategies.
Organizations can employ threat modeling to develop effective cyber threats and attack strategies. As a threat model is a common foundation for almost all security-related requirements, it can guide decision-making at all development and testing stages.
Threat modeling also helps organizations communicate their security strategy to outsiders (e.g., software developers, system architects, business partners). Building effective relationships with vendors and business partners is an important factor in maintaining the integrity of a product or system.
In conclusion, threat modeling is a valuable tool for businesses to face cyberattacks. It helps reveal vulnerabilities in the design of a system (e.g., software) and helps counter threats and vulnerabilities that attackers could use. The model also allows security specialists to improve a product's or system's overall quality by identifying high-risk threats that could prevent an organization from succeeding in its goals.