Threat modeling is the process of identifying network vulnerabilities and optimizing security to enhance mitigation strategies. The practice is often done to protect valuable information or prevent adverse events that may lead to malicious attacks. It is ideal in building a culture of security throughout an enterprise.
Think of threat modeling as predicting what could go wrong. For example, before walking into a dark alley, you should assess if you’re likely to be attacked. Ask yourself questions like “Where will the attacker come from?” and “Can I defend myself? How?”
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Why Is Threat Modeling Important?
The primary purpose of threat modeling is to enable security teams to develop a systematic assessment of defenses that must be put in place. To do so, they create attackers’ profiles, determine potential attack vectors, and identify vulnerable assets.
Among threat modeling’s benefits are:
1. Threat modeling can educate employees.
Threat modeling allows security personnel to educate users, specifically those in software development. More often than not, developers brush off the idea of security when creating applications. They forget to protect their creations from threats, making their network vulnerable to attacks.
Think about it. Enterprises often use internally built applications to transmit sensitive data. Without threat modeling, they risk leaking information that can be detrimental to their organization’s reputation.
Threat modeling can help developers identify encryption needs to mitigate risks. It is also critical in spurring discussions that can result in an intellectual exchange of knowledge.
2. Threat modeling can improve an enterprise’s security posture.
Threat modeling is essential because it is a surefire way to ensure iron-clad security. Organizations need to keep in mind that safety begins from the get-go. They don’t need to bolster their security systems if the applications they use have security built-in.
Security must no longer be reactive. Developers should put their creations through rigorous security tests before these are rolled out. They can do so via threat modeling, thus proactively protecting data and the entire system before attacks occur.
3. Threat modeling promotes a security culture.
Threat modeling, when practiced and applied consistently, can inculcate a culture of security throughout an organization. This culture can then ensure a proactive stance on mitigating threats and lessening reputational, physical, and financial damage.
What Are the Common Threat Modeling Methods?
There are several ways to implement threat modeling, which include:
Developed in 1999 and adopted in 2002 by Microsoft, STRIDE is among the most sophisticated threat modeling methods. It is commonly used to identify system events, entities, and boundaries. It helps developers detect threats implicated by the mnemonic:
- S: Spoofing identify
- T: Tampering with data
- R: Repudiation
- I: Information disclosure
- D: Denial of service (DoS)
- E: Elevation of privilege
Over the years, STRIDE has evolved to add threat-specific variants to its protection roster.
PASTA, short for “Process for Attack Simulation and Threat Analysis,” is another mature threat modeling framework developed in 2012. This risk-centric method involves a seven-step process that aligns business goals and technical requirements with compliance needs. It aims to provide a dynamic threat identification process, depending on the organization’s needs.
The Trike threat modeling framework acts like a risk management tool. That means that models must adhere to security auditing processes, depending on what is considered “acceptable” for each asset class. By completing a risk-based model, developers can quickly come up with a defensive perspective.
All factors in a threat modeling framework must remain dynamic enough to evolve along with the ever-changing threat landscape.