What is Threat Modeling: Practices, Tools and Methodologies

Threat Modeling

What is Threat Modeling: Practices, Tools and Methodologies

What Is Threat Modeling?

Threat modeling is a structured method to identify potential threats and prioritize security mitigations. Any cybersecurity team must perform threat modeling to ensure their organization is protected. This involves analyzing the target system and current threat landscapes to determine what security controls are needed.

Threat modeling involves collaboration between Security Architects and Security Operations to understand each other’s problems.

Threat modeling can be applied to software, applications, networks, distributed systems and the Internet of Things (IoT), devices, and business processes.

Steps for Threat Modeling

There are five main threat modeling steps:

  • Determining security requirements
  • Creating an application diagram.
  • Identifying threats
  • Attenuating threats
  • Validating that threats were mitigated.

Why Threat Modeling is Necessary?

As organizations become digital, IT systems become more vulnerable to cyberattacks. The threat landscape is becoming more complex due to the increasing use of mobile devices. Startups are vulnerable to cyberattacks. In fact, they might be more at risk if they do not have adequate cybersecurity measures. Threat modeling is vital for organizational security as it provides a proactive way to detect threats. This method results in insecure applications and efficient use of resources by prioritizing expected threats.

There are three ways to approach threat modeling:

  • Asset-centric
  • Attacker-centric
  • Software-centric

Also read: 15 Types of Software Become a Cybersecurity Threat

How Does Threat Modeling Work?

Threat modeling is a process that identifies the various types of threat agents and analyzes the software architecture and context. Threat modeling is used by organizations during the design phase to helping developers identify vulnerabilities and become aware of security implications. Typically, threat modeling is performed by developers in four steps.

  • Diagram.
  • Identify the threats
  • Mitigate.
  • Validate.

Threat Modeling Best Practices

  • Get started early
  • Collect input
  • Use of tools
  • Risk tolerance
  • Educate everyone
  • Define the scope of analysis and its depth
  • Don’t try to address all vulnerabilities at once
  • The time frame for threat modeling
  • Get a visual representation of the threat you are modeling.
  • The attack options can be modeled
  • Identify threats
  • Use existing resources
  • Make a traceability matrix for security controls that are missing or weak.
  • Based on your app and company, decide which method you want to use. Create an easily-accessible document

How can you measure the effectiveness of threat modeling?

Common Vulnerability Scoring System: CVSS provides standardized vulnerability scores that can easily be calculated using an online tool.

Penetration testing: Penetration testing involves putting on fake attacks against a system in order to determine its strengths and weaknesses.

Advantages of Threat Modeling

  • Automated Risk Exposure
  • Keep your risk profile current and accurate
  • Enterprise-Wide Security Policy: Reduce Attack Surface and Encourage Consistent Security Policy
  • Mitigate Risk Enterprise-Wide
  • Secure Measurable Results
  • Align Mitigation Strategy and Budgets
  • Leverage Real-Time Threat Intelligence

Threat Modeling Tools

You can use a threat modeling tool to identify potential security threats at the design stage.

8 Must-Have Features of Threat Modeling Tools

1. Kenna. VM

This security offering reports on an application’s risk position using empirical metrics.

  • Unique features: This algorithm calculates vulnerability risk metrics using a unique algorithm.
  • Pricing mode: This is a subscription-based pricing model, with costs calculated according to the number of assets.

2. Microsoft Threat Modeling Tool

This is an open-source tool that follows spoofing and tampering as well as repudiation and information disclosure.

  • Unique features: This tool offers extensive documentation and tutorials.
  • Pricing model: The Microsoft Threat Modeling Tool (MST) is an open-source tool, which means there is no price.

3. OWASP Threat Dragon

  • Unique Features: The main benefit of the OWASP Threat dragon is its powerful rule engine.
  • Pricing model: OWASP Threat Dragon comes at no cost to the company.

4. SDElements by Security Compass

SDElements allow for a seamless translation of policy into the procedure.

  • Unique features: The USP of SDElements lies in its integration with many testing tools.
  • Pricing model: SDElements offers three pricing options — Express, Professional, and Enterprise.

5. SecuriCAD by Foreseeti

SecuriCAD is a threat modeling tool that creates attack simulations

  • Unique features: SecuriCAD offers attack simulations.
  • Price model: It starts at $1380 The Community edition is completely free.

6. Threagile 

Threagile is an open-source, code-based threat modeling tool kit.

  • Unique Features: It is the most complete code-driven threat methodology tool.
  • Pricing model: Free

7. ThreatModeler

ThreatModeler provides security and automation for the entire enterprise’s life cycle. There are three versions: Appsec, Cloud, and Community.

  • Unique Features: ThreatModeler, the first commercially-available automated threat modeling tool, is unique. The VAST methodology gives a comprehensive view of the attack surface.
  • Pricing model: This tool is based upon an annual subscription-based license, which has no limit on how many users it can be used.

8. Tutamantic

Tutamantic’s goal is to create a living threat modeling that adapts to design.

  • Unusual features: This tool uses Rapid Threat Model Prototyping. It is based on a consistent framework and repeatable process that produces measurable data.
  • Pricing model: Tutamantic for everyone in Beta.

Also read: What are Advanced Persistent Threats and How to Prevent Them

How Do You Choose a Threat Modeling Method?

When you are considering a threat method, there are several important factors to consider.

  • Your industry and associated risks and threats
  • The size of your security department
  • Your organization’s structure (and the stakeholders)
  • Resources available
  • Your risk model and your appetite
  • Threat modeling: Reasons
  • What’s at stake (employees and devices, code deployment, third parties)
  • Available threat models (either offered by a vendor or a partner)

Common Threat Modeling Misconceptions

  • Code is already being reviewed.
  • It is not necessary to perform threat modeling upon deployment.
  • It is too difficult to achieve actionable results.
  • Implementing a comprehensive system requires too many resources.
  • We will need to employ a security specialist in-house.

Wrapping up

Cyber attacks are becoming more frequent and common as the world becomes increasingly digital. Follow the recommendations and best practices for threat modeling.

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