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What Is Threat Modeling & How Does It Work? [2023]

Introduction

In the digital age, cybersecurity is a critical concern as the number of cyber threats continues to increase, leaving us vulnerable to security breaches and potential losses. Protecting ourselves from these threats is essential in today's world. Threat modeling is important for application security. 

Owing to this, cybersecurity experts are implementing several defenses and corrective measures for keeping confidential and transactional information safe, but it's an enormous undertaking! Subsequently, that being the case, “THREAT MODELING” is making powerful inroads into the cybersecurity world! 

As the demand for threat modeling grows, so does the need for cybersecurity professionals. To effectively use the latest cybersecurity techniques, it is important to have a thorough understanding of them. Cybersecurity certification course can help you gain the skills and knowledge necessary to defend against threats and advance in the field of cybersecurity. 

In this blog, we’re closely analyzing the process of threat modeling in the cybersecurity sector, like - what it is, its benefits, the available techniques, and how you can make a career in cybersecurity.

What is Threat Modeling: Different Steps in Threat Modeling Process

Threat modeling is a structured process for identifying and prioritizing potential cyber threats and implementing security measures to mitigate them. It is a crucial responsibility of cybersecurity teams to safeguard their businesses by analyzing the necessary security measures based on the current threat landscape and targeted systems. 

Threat modeling involves collaboration between security architects, security operations, and threat intelligence teams to understand and address each other's concerns. Threat models can be applied to software, applications, networks, shared systems, IoT devices, and business processes. Therefore, it is important to understand how to start a career in cybersecurity in order to effectively utilize threat modeling.

The Threat Modeling Process Consists of 5 Major Steps:

Steps in threat modelling process

  • Defining Security Requirements
  •  Creating An Application Diagram
  •  Identifying Threats
  •  Mitigating Threats
  •  Validating That Threats Have Been Mitigated

Why Do We Need Security Threat Modeling?

The cybersecurity situation is so bad that professionals need to develop various solutions like agile threat modeling to withstand it. 

As stated by Security Boulevard, in recent years, the 13 most common types of cyber attacks and cyber crimes have taken a heavy toll on the web community; this conclusion is derived from many industry sources. Coupled with this, the report also states that in 2019, data breaches exposed 4.1 billion records and social network-related cyber crimes stole $3.25 billion in annual universal revenue. 

Because of these troubling statistics, according to Gartner, 

This shows that no business, industry, organization, or end-user is safe!

Smart businesses and consumers will make the most of reliable resources to fight against these rising cybercrimes. A foolproof threat modeling design for security measures is important to accomplish this.

Threat Modeling Tools

A threat modeling tool facilitates you to discover all the potential security threats at the time of the design stage of the product. To effectively use these tools, it's important to have a thorough knowledge of them. If you are a beginner, here’s an ultimate guide to learning cybersecurity. Reading this can help you build a fundamental understanding and will help you understand the below-listed tools better. 

Here are the critical features of threat modeling tools: 

1. Kenna.VM: This security offering reports the risk posture of an application using empirical metrics.

  • Distinct Features: Kenna.VM has a special algorithm for calculating risk metrics of vulnerabilities.
  • Pricing Model: It’s a subscription-based pricing model wherein the costs are calculated depending on the several assets.

2. Microsoft Threat Modeling Tool: It is an open-source tool that supersedes spoofing, tampering, denial, and disclosure of information.   

  • Distinct Features: The Microsoft Threat Modeling Tool has broad documentation and tutorials. 
  • Pricing Model: It’s an open-source model; hence there’s no pricing included. 

3. OWASP Threat Dragon 

  • Distinct Features: A major benefit of this tool is its powerful rule engine. 
  • Pricing Model: This is an open-source model; therefore, it comes at no cost to an organization.

4. SD Elements by Security Compass: It offers a seamless policy translation in a process. 

  • Distinct Features: One of the best features of SDElements is its ample integration with different types of tools. 
  • Pricing Model: This model pursues three different versions from which one can be picked - Express, Professional, and Enterprise. 

5. SecuriCAD by Foreseeti: This is a tool that develops attack simulations.

  • Distinct Features:  This tool offers attack simulations.
  • Pricing Model: SecuriCAD by Foreseeti starts from $1380, and its Community edition is free. 

6. Threagile: This is an open-source, code-based threat modeling tool. 

  • Distinct Features: It's a most all-embracing code-driven tool.
  • Pricing Model: Free

7. TreatModeler: It is a heavyweight in the threat modeling landscape, providing security and automatization throughout the business’s development life cycle, having 3 editions - Community, Appsec, and Cloud. 

  • Distinct Features: This is the first commercially available and automatized tool whose huge methodology provides a global perspective of the attack's surface. 
  • Pricing Model: The threatModeler tool is founded on annual subscription-based licenses with unlimited users. 

8. Tutamantic: This threat modeling tool focuses on creating a  working threat model that changes according to the design.

  • Distinct Features: This threat modeling tool utilizes Rapid Threat Model Prototyping, accomplished using a consistent framework, repeating the process, and computable data. 
  • Pricing Model: This is free for all in Beta.

How Does Threat Modeling Work?

Threat modeling identifies the types of threat actors that cause damage to any computer device or application. It picks the point of view of malicious actors to determine how much damage they can cause. When running a threat model, businesses conduct an in-depth analysis of the software architecture, business conditions, and other aspects, for instance, functional specs, user documentation, etc. 

An agile threat modeling process aids a thorough understanding and identification of crucial elements of the system. Usually, businesses perform threat modeling at the design stage. However, still, it could take place at other stages of the latest application to support developers in discovering vulnerabilities and grasping the security connotations related to their design, code, and framework decisions. 

Usually, developers conduct threat modeling in the following four steps

  • Diagram- What are we building?
  • Identify threats- What could go wrong?
  • Mitigation- What can be done to defend against threats?
  • Validation- Have we acted on every previous step?

Types of Threat Modeling You Must Know in 2023

When conducting threat modeling, cybersecurity professionals can utilize several types of threat models. A suitable model for your organizational needs is based on the type of threats your organization is trying to model and its purpose. There are different types of threat modeling methodology; let’s look at them.

STRIDE

It exemplifies Spoofing, Tampering, Repudiation, Informative disclosure, Denial of Service (DoS), and Elevation of privilege. 

  1. Spoofing is when any person or computer impersonates something they’re not.
  2. Tampering alludes to prohibiting data integrity. 
  3. Repudiation meddles with linking action with a person who did it
  4. Information revelation includes giving away confidential information
  5. Denial of service makes it difficult for authorized users to use a specific resource
  6. Elevation of privilege offers illegitimate access to an application of the system to anyone who has access.

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DREAD

It exemplifies damage potential, replicability, exploitability, damaged users, and discoverability.

  1. Damage potential defines how much damage can bring about from an unpleasant experience
  2. Reproducibility evaluates how easily an attack can be replicated
  3. Exploitability imparts the convenience of a threat attacker to strike an attack
  4. Affected users include summarizing the percentage of users impacted by the negative event
  5. Discoverability determines how effortless it is to identify the vulnerability

PASTA

The term PASTA originates from Process for Attack Simulation and Threat Analysis. It includes seven steps: 

  1. Description of your objectives
  2. Description of the technical scope of the project
  3. Decomposition
  4. Analysis of threats
  5. Analysis of weaknesses as well as vulnerabilities
  6. Attacks modeling
  7. Analysis of the risk and impact on the business

VAST

VAST exemplifies Visual, Agile, and Simple Threat modeling, a basic element of a ThreatModeler platform. It integrates with workflows developed with the help of the principles of DevOps.

TRIKE

It’s an open-source architecture that aspires to defend an application or system rather than trying to replicate how a threat actor can attack it. Using this framework, users develop a model of the respective application or system they’re defending. After that, the CRUD term is used to see who could

  1. Create data
  2. Read data
  3. Update data
  4. Delete data

It is examined using a data flow diagram, and the threats being studied either involve elevations of privileges or DoS.

OCTAVE

It exemplifies the Operationally Critical Threat Asset and Vulnerability Evaluation, designed by Carnegie Mellon University. It needs three separate stages

  1. Developing threat profiles depending on particular assets
  2. Identifying vulnerabilities inside an infrastructure
  3. Designing security strategies and plans

NIST

It exemplifies the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which has built its own threat modeling system concentrating on data and needs 4 stages

  1. Identifying the system and summarizing how it works, along with how it monitors the data within or dependent on it
  2. Ensuring the applicable attack vectors, which the model will address
  3. Determining the required security controls to mitigate attacks
  4. Analyzing the threat model developed to estimate its effectiveness

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How to Select a Threat Modeling Method?

When adopting a threat model, several key factors need to be considered

  • Your industry, related, threats and risks
  • Size of your security department
  • The composition of your business and stakeholders
  • Available resources
  • Your risk model
  • Reason for threat modeling
  • What’s involved- employees, devices, code deployment, third parties, etc.
  • Available threat models - whether they’re offered by a partner or existing vendor

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4 Best Practices of Threat Modeling

A Major application of threat modeling is boosting strong security understanding within the entire team. It's the first stage in regards to making safety everyone’s responsibility. Threat modeling is simple; therefore, consider the following best practices when developing or upgrading a threat model.

  • Describe the scope and depth of the analysis - Evaluate the scope with partners, then classify the in-depth analysis of separate development teams so that it’ll be easy for them to threat model the software. 
  • Acquire a visual understanding of what you’re threat modeling - Design a diagram of important system elements such as application server, data warehouse, thick client, database, etc., and collaboration between them.
  • Create a model for the attack possibilities - Find software components, security measures, and threat actors and develop a diagram of their locations to build a security threat model for the system. Once you’re done with it, find out what can go wrong, like, the potential threats, with the help of methods such as STRIDE.
  • Find threats -To create a list of possible threat attacks, ask questions as follows.
  1. Are there ways through which a threat actor can reach out to the components without going through security control?
  2. Can a threat actor defeat this security measure?
  3. What should a threat actor do to beat this security control?
  4. Develop a traceability pattern for missing or weak security measures. Examine the threat actors and follow their control methods. If you reach the software component without passing through a security check, that’s a possible attack. And if you pass through a security check, find out where it’ll stop a threat actor or whether the threat actor will be able to bypass it.

Brief Introduction to Threat Modeling Kill Chain

Threat modeling kill chain or cyber kill chain is a series of actions that helps to trace different stages of a threat attack starting from the initial reconnaissance step to the data theft. This chain helps developers understand and fight ransomware, security breaches, and APTs (Advanced Persistent Attacks). 

Lockheed Martin procured the cyber kill chain model framework from a military model - earlier established to discover, prepare to attack, engage and destroy the target. Since its launch, the threat kill chain has involved better envisaging and discovering insider threats, social engineering, modern ransomware, and attacks.

Different Ways to Measure the Effectiveness of Threat Modeling

It’s the most important activity since several approaches might fail at this stage. Using the following techniques, developers can measure the effectiveness of the threat model.

  • Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS): It generates standardized vulnerability scores that can be computed using a free online tool.
  • Penetration testing: This is a process of staging mock attacks on a computer system to calculate its strengths and weaknesses.

Benefits and Misconceptions of Threat Modeling

By proactively identifying and addressing potential vulnerabilities, organizations can reduce the likelihood and impact of security breaches and protect their valuable assets. However, despite its many benefits, there are still misconceptions about what threat modeling is and how it should be used. In this blog, we will delve into the benefits of threat modeling and clear up some of these misunderstandings.

Benefits of Threat Modeling - 

When conducted accurately, threat modeling can give a vision across a software application project, supporting the validation of security attempts. This model helps businesses document comprehensible security threats to any application and make logical decisions regarding how to mark them. Or, decision-makers can act recklessly depending on very little to no supporting evidence. 

Mainly a precisely documented threat model gives assurances helpful in explaining and withstanding the security posture of any application or computer device. When the development team is thoughtful about safety and security, threat modeling is the most efficient way to achieve the following - 

  • Identifying problems earlier in the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle), even prior to the coding stage.
  • Detects design flaws that conventional security testing methods and code reviews might ignore.
  • Examine new attacks that you may not consider at other times.
  • Increase testing budgets by supporting target testing and code review.
  • Discovering security needs
  • Resolve the issues before the release of software and avoid expensive recording after deployment.
  • Consider threats beyond regular attacks to the security problems distinct to your application. 
  • Maintain modeling frameworks before the internal and external threat actors related to your applications.
  • Highlight components, threat agents, and security control to determine the assets that attackers may target. 
  • Create the location of threat actors, desires, skills, and ability to track down potential attackers concerning the system architecture.

Misconceptions of Threat Modeling

Threat modeling, as a security process, is vulnerable to many misconceptions. Few people think it is just a design-stage task; others consider it a voluntary exercise that can be substituted by penetration testing or code review, whereas few think it is too complicated. As you already know what it is, as a beginner, you can go through this penetration testing tutorial guide for more information. 

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The following points must help eliminate a few of these misconceptions: 

Penetration testing and code review can't be substituted for threat modeling.

These two tasks are very effective in finding bugs in code, but having said that, security assessments, such as threat modeling, are the best way to uncover those design flaws. There’s a better reason to perform a threat model after implementation.

Knowing the problems in the existing implementation affects future security control strategies, and monitoring weaknesses facilitates faster and more fruitful remediation. Without knowing the possible threats, an application copes with; you can’t esure that you’re pinpointing all threats. The threat modeling frameworks aren’t that difficult.

Several developers are terrified by the notion of threat modeling. At first, it seems daunting, but even so, if you break down the activities into workable steps, conducting it on a web application or on complex system architecture can be systematic. It's crucial, to begin with basic threat modeling frameworks' best practices. 

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Conclusion

Threat modeling is a proactive method for identifying and addressing potential security threats in a system or organization. It involves analyzing the assets, vulnerabilities, and threats present within the system and implementing controls and countermeasures to reduce the likelihood and impact of potential attacks. By continuously evaluating and updating the system's threat model, organizations can stay ahead of potential security risks and protect their valuable assets.

As the world becomes increasingly digital, cyber threats have become more common and regular. Therefore, it is important for organizations to prioritize security by following best practices in threat modeling and making their products more secure and reliable. The specific threat modeling method that will best suit your project will depend on various factors, including the areas you wish to target, such as risk, security, and privacy.

A career in threat modeling can be a good option for individuals interested in the security field, and it is a cornerstone for a sustainable cybersecurity program. If you are considering a career in this field, you may want to consider enrolling in a free demo class for online CISSP training and certification. This can help you lead your career in the security domain and gain the knowledge and skills you need to succeed.

FAQs

Q1. Explain what the threat modeling process is.

Ans: Threat modeling includes identifying and communicating information regarding threats that might affect a specific computer system, network, or web application. It facilitates an infosec team to know the nature of threats and how they can affect the network. Furthermore, threat modeling could be utilized to analyze the dangers of different types of cyber threats imposed on applications, considering their possible vulnerabilities.

Q2. Give a few threat modeling examples or cyber kill chain examples.

Ans: STRIDE, DREAD, PASTA, VAST, OCTAVE, and NIST are a few threat modeling examples or cyber kill chain examples.

Q3. How to develop a threat model?

Ans: A threat modeling process is based on a series of steps, and conducting them together gives an all-inclusive view of the threat situation. The steps included are:

  1. Defining your concern about a particular system, application, or process
  2. Creating a list defining the threat assumptions requires confirmation according to the change in the conditions. 
  3. Creating a genuine list of threats
  4. Creating a list of solutions and removal steps
  5. Making sure that these methods for coping with the threats are successful and stay valid even if the threat landscape changes

Q4. Which steps are included in making a threat model?

Ans: The following steps are included in making a threat model 

  1. Evaluating the systems that could be affected
  2. Analyzing things that could go wrong
  3. Knowing what the business or IT team is doing to minimize the risk
  4. Once the steps are completed, assessing their success or failure

Q5. Give an Overview of the CISSP certification.

Ans: CISSP stands for Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and is a world-renowned certification for infosec professionals. This certification is accredited with the latest (ISC)2 version launched in 2021. Our online CISSP training and certification course provide you with in-depth technical and managerial knowledge as well as experience to efficiently design, develop and manage the complete security posture of your business.

Q6. What are the benefits of doing online CISSP training and certification? 

Ans: A CISSP certification approves your skills in information security. As predicted, more than 1 million cyber security jobs will be available by 2023. The worldwide cyber security market is expected to reach $282.3 billion by 2024, rising at 11.1% per year. 

Q7. What are the eligibility criteria for online CISSP training and certification?

Ans: As stated earlier, the CISSP course is the world's most renowned professional requirement in the infosec domain. This training is best suitable for those who are at the intermediate level of their career, along with security consultants/managers, IT directors/managers, security auditors/architects, security system engineers, CIOs, and network architects.

Q8. What are the prerequisites for doing online CISSP training and certification?

Ans: Candidates require to have an undergraduate degree or high school diploma. Minimum 5 yrs of full-time professional job experience in 2 or more of the eight CISSP domains - (ISC)2 CBK 2021. Qualified individuals with less than 5 yrs of work experience will get the (ISC)2 associate title. 

Q9. What is the passing score for the CISSP certification exam?

Ans: 700 is the passing score required for the CISSP certification exam.

Q10. Will I get a job after getting CISSP certification?

Ans: The CISSP certification can be sought only if the candidate has a minimum of five years of work experience in the infosec domain. Fundamentally, CISSP will help increase learners' credibility and open doors to numerous well-paying cybersecurity jobs. CISSP fulfills the strict conditions of the ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 standard and is also accredited by the US Department of Defense (DoD), further improving your employment chances. 


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    Shubham Singh

    With his detailed research and unique insights into IT and Technological trends, Shubham has been producing high-quality and engaging content that meets the standards of its end-users.


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