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Why is Threat Modeling Important?

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Cyberattacks come in a variety of varieties, and protecting yourself from cyber attacks can be a challenge. We are concerned about cyberspace national cybersecurity, security for networks the security of applications, information security and everything else in between. The problem for security professionals is the fact that attackers can be able to enter the network in thousands of many ways. Moreover, every possibility of entry point has to be protected. Attackers are able to strike wherever and defenders must protect everywhere. Before every entry point can be identified and the attack vector analyzed it is necessary to first be identified. That is where thread modeling comes in the picture.

Threat modeling is a method by which possible threats can be identified as well as classified, enumerated and then mitigated. It’s a proactive method utilized to determine how different threats and attacks can be fought. The aim in threat modelling is providing security personnel with a thorough analysis of the countermeasures that need to be taken, in light of how the item is used, its most likely attack routes, and the types of assets that are that are most sought-after by attackers. Threat modeling can answer questions such as “Where do I stand the greatest risk for attack?”, “What threats that if taken on could cause more damage?”, and “What measures are necessary to protect against these risks?”.

What is the reason Threat Modeling Essential?

The constant nature of cyberattacks make threat modeling essential to security. Both the defense and attack aspects of security are always changing. To be able to respond appropriately to the changing security landscape, companies have to review and develop their security postures regularly. Additionally, systems and applications should be developed to be resistant to attack. However, the process of establishing the proper security measures to ensure resilience can have financial implications.

The basic principle behind model of threat is the fact that there are always a limited amount of resources available for security, which makes it challenging to manage each threat in an entire system. It is important to figure out the best way to utilize those resources efficiently. Companies must prioritize risks and deal with them accordingly. The most important factor to consider when assessing risk is a threat. Threat modeling assists organizations to discover threat scenarios that can be relevant to their system to be able to take effective countermeasures to defend themselves. This is the reason why threat modeling is crucial. It assists security professionals recognize when systems are vulnerable and what security fixes are required to prioritize the fixes depending on the impact and severity of the threats they anticipate.

What is Threat Modelling fits into Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is the process of identifying security risks through analyzing assets, threats and vulnerabilities, along with their severity as well as the probability of their occurrence. However threat modeling permits an increased focus on assets, and helps identify potential attacks and threats that may exploit weaknesses found on assets and their components in risk analysis. Furthermore, it takes a look at who might be most likely to attempt to take on the asset, and how they can do it effectively.

Threat modeling is actually an aspect of risk assessment which models aspects of the defense and attack aspects of a system and its elements. It adds to your risk-assessment process through producing context-specific threat events that include an elaborate sequence of activities, actions and scenarios an attacker might take to attack the system or asset. This allows security personnel to create more targeted security measures and countermeasures.

The components of a threat Modeling Process

Different methods or approaches can be used to model threats We’ll go over this in the following section. However, all these approaches have some common processes or logical flow they all share. Let’s look at these fundamental logics:

Create a project team and define the scope The threat modeling team is required to be as diverse as it is possible to create an all-encompassing threat model. It should comprise the key stakeholders, such as C-level executives as well as developers, network engineers, and security administrators. The next step is to define and explain the scope of the work, including the technical aspects, the system architecture, parts, security perimeters and data flows, prior to conducting threat modeling for the targeted system. This includes gathering data and defining perimeter boundaries.

Compose the system or application The term “system decomposition” refers to the process of breaking down an entire system in its various components. This involves identifying components of the system and drawing out how data flows and dividing trust boundaries. One method for dissolving a system is to create the Data flow diagram (DFD). DFDs aid users in gaining better insight into the system providing a visual representation of the flow of data within the system, as well as activities that users can take in a system’s state. Certain models use processes flow charts (PFDs) rather than DFDs. Once the model is complete the visual representation can be used to detect and list the potential risks.

Determine the likelihood of threats Threat Identification is the process of documenting and identifying threats and their vectors as well as events. After that, for all potential targets, identify where threats exist , and utilize threats and threat trees in order to determine potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited. A threat modeling tool may also be employed to automate this process.

Attack Modeling Attack modeling explains an attacker’s approach to intrusion so that users can determine mitigation measures needed to protect your system, and then prioritize their implementation. After putting threat events in relation for the security system connect them to the possible sequence of attacks. This is accomplished by mapping out the attack sequence by describing techniques, tactics methods, and techniques, as well as developing threats scenarios. Frameworks for attack like MITRE AT&CK and Lockheed Martin Kill Chain can be used to simulate the attack.

Implement mitigations. When you are aware of the attack vectors and security threats at different stages, you can employ appropriate measures and controls to limit threats or potential attacks or limit the impact of attacks. Find strategies to limit the threat. This generally means taking care to avoid the threat or negative impact, reducing the impact or likelihood associated with the danger, shifting all or a portion of the threat to a different entity, or even accepting certain or all the possible or actual outcomes of a specific threat. These strategies is to respond to opportunities.

Risk Modeling Methodologies, Frameworks and Strategies

There are many different methods and frameworks that you could employ to carry out threat modeling. Threat modeling methods can be classified based on the primary focus of the methods. These include methods which focus upon the systems assets that are threatened by modeling (asset-centric) and ones that concentrate on threat actors (attack-centric threat modeling) and those which focus specifically on software, or computer system (software-centric and system-centric threat modeling). The choice of which method to use depends on the system and the type of threat being that are modeled, and the purpose for which they serve. Here are a few techniques used for threat modeling that are commonly employed in the present:

STRIDE: Microsoft engineers developed the STRIDE method in 1999, to assist in the detection of security threats within the system. It works with an analysis of the system in question which can be built in parallel. This is inclusive of a complete description of the processes as well as data stores, data flows, as well as trust boundaries. The acronym STRIDE refers to the kinds of threats it takes care of.

OCTAVE the Operationally Critical Threat Asset, Vulnerability, and Assessment (OCTAVE) is an asset- and operations-based threat modeling method that was developed in 2003 at Carnegie Mellon University to help companies assess the non-technical risk that could result from data breaches. OCTAVE comprises three phases.

Building asset-based threat profiles–organizational evaluation.
Identifying infrastructure vulnerabilities–information infrastructure evaluation
Planning and preparing an effective security strategy that evaluates the threats to your organization’s most important assets and making the right decisions.

With OCTAVE the company’s information assets are identified and the databases include attributes that are based on the kind of data they store. OCTAVE is particularly helpful when creating a culture of risk-awareness in the workplace. But, it is not scalable.

Trike: Trike is an open-source asset-centric framework that can be used for risk modeling and risk assessment.

The project started in 2006 in order to enhance the efficacy and efficiency of existing threat modeling techniques. Trike concentrates on completing an audit process for security from the perspective of risk management for cyber. The basis of Trike threat modeling approach is an “requirements model”–which assures that the amount of risk associated with every item is “acceptable” to all parties.

The threat is identified by iterating through the data flow chart (DFD). The threats that are identified are classified into two categories that are denial of service and the elevation of privilege. The model of implementation is analysed to create an Trike Threat Model.

PASTA PASTA: Process for Attack Simulation and Threat Analysis (PASTA) is a seven-step attack-centric method developed in 2015 to help companies integrate technical requirements with their goals of business while also considering impact analysis and conformity requirements. The purpose of this method is to offer a continuous threat detection, enumeration and scoring. PASTA concentrates on helping teams to recognize prioritizing, counting, and identifying threats in a dynamic manner. The general sequence is as the following:

Define your business’s goals
Define the technical scope
Application decomposition
Analysis of threats
Analysis of vulnerability and weaknesses
Modeling and attack enumeration
Countermeasures and risk analysis

After the threat model has been done, a thorough analysis of the threats identified and appropriate security controls will be designed. PASTA threat modelling is an ideal choice for companies that want to align their goals with strategic objectives since it includes the analysis of business impacts as a key part in the overall process.

NIST Threat modeling guidelines This guide is from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2016 released its own threat modeling based on data method that is focused on securing high-value information within systems. It provides a model of the various aspects of defense and attack in the case of certain data. In this model the risk analysis is conducted with the help of the following four important steps:

Determine and characterize the system and the data that are of significance
Choose and recognize the attack vectors that should include in the modeling
Define the security controls to assist in protecting against attack patterns
Examine the threat model

The guide is targeted at security managers, security engineers/architects, system administrators, auditors, and others responsible for the security of systems and data. The authors claim that “the intention isn’t to substitute existing methods but rather to clarify fundamental principles that should form an integral part of any solid model of threat modeling based on data.

VAST The Visual, agile, and Simple Threat (VAST) is a scalable model that addresses both infrastructure and developer issues. Integration, automation and collaboration are key to the threat modeling of VAST. VAST is built on ThreatModeler, an automated tool for threat modeling specifically designed to integrate into whole lifecycle of software development (SDLC). This approach employs two threat models application threat models for teams in development and operational threat models that are used by infrastructure teams.

Applicable threat models for teams in development are designed using Process flow diagrams (PFD)–a flowchart used to explain the general flow of a business procedure and the ways that the user will be interacting with it. VAST utilizes PFDs in place of DFDs for more context and insights, as well as a view that is similar to the perspective of an attacker. However, operational threat models rely on traditional DFDs as well, but from the viewpoint as an adversary.

Making the Right Choice for the Right Methodology for Threat Modeling

With the many threat modeling approaches available, selecting the most appropriate one for your organization and the environment is a daunting task. There are many different threat modeling approaches that are created using the same methodology. Some are focused on the assets of the system being threatened, while others focus concentrate on the threat actors, and others are based on the software or the system that is being threat-modeled.

Although all threat modeling approaches could identify potential threats, the amount and nature of the threats that are identified will differ significantly in terms of quality as well as the consistency and value derived from these threat models. What works perfectly from a feature and model perspective for one company might not be the best fit for the other. To ensure that threat information is useful security teams must figure out what method is compatible with their business’s specific goals and goals.

It is important to take into consideration various aspects like the system, the kind of threat being threatened and what the goal and the model approach (asset-centric or attack-centric software-centric) which best fits your requirements, the intended outcome, capacity to scale, the capacity to produce reports, and the ability to assess the efficacy of the threat modeling, in addition to.