Threat modeling is crucial for identifying security and data threats. With billions of user accounts falling victim to breaches each year, organizations face increasing pressure to protect assets and clients, while maintaining compliance.
In this article, we will outline what threat modeling is, its different types, and key advantages.
What is Threat Modeling?
Threat modeling is an essential security process that identifies potential security risks, enabling proactive measures to protect digital assets. As we step into 2023, the significance of threat modeling for businesses and organizations cannot be overstated, given their heavy reliance on technology to power day-to-day operations. A single vulnerability exploited can lead to a catastrophic data breach, jeopardizing the future of a company.
The array of threats that require consideration is vast, ranging from unauthorized access to network or cloud environments to insidious cyberattacks like phishing and ransomware, and other types of online scams such as tech support scams. By conducting comprehensive threat modeling analyses, security teams can determine the complete attack surface of a network and all its interconnected components. Armed with this knowledge, they can swiftly take the necessary actions to mitigate any identified risks.
What are the Different Types of Threat Modeling?
There are several different types of threat modeling and choosing the right one depends on factors such as the organization type, the size of the network, the variety of connected devices, and more. The different threat modeling types use different methods and techniques but the overall goal is the same.
Here are the most common types of threat modeling:
- LINDDUN: A LINDDUN threat model is a privacy threat modeling framework that provides extensive support in identifying and mitigating privacy threats early in the development lifecycle.
- OCTAVE: A Operationally Critical Threat, Asset, and Vulnerability EvaluationSM (OCTAVE) model is self-directed and based on a strategic assessment method to improve cybersecurity.
- PASTA: Process for Attack Simulation and Threat Analysis (PASTA) is a seven-step threat modeling method that provides a balanced approach, avoiding too much focus in one particular area.
- STRIDE: A STRIDE threat model is developer-focused and organizes threats into six classifications: Spoofing, Tampering, Repudiation, Information Disclosure, Denial of Service (DoS), and Elevation of Privilege.
- VAST: The Visual, Agile, and Simple Threat (VAST) model is based upon the automated thread modeling platform, ThreatModeler. This method provides a comprehensive overview of an organization’s software development lifecycle (SDLC).
The 4 Key Advantages of Threat Modeling
The advantages of threat modeling can be broken down into four main categories which are; reducing the attack surface; prioritizing and mitigating threats cost-effectively; identifying and eliminating single points of failure; and determining the cyber-attack kill chain.
1. Reducing The Attack-Surface
The attack surface refers to the number of vulnerabilities contained in a network or cloud environment, and reducing the attack surface is achieved in three ways:
- First, an inventory of all identified vulnerabilities is created so they can be monitored and mitigated if needed, which allows security teams to perform ongoing analysis to determine the risk level of each threat.
- Next, all systems, software, and endpoints are analyzed so that their threat levels can be assessed from different perspectives so that security teams to better understand a network and evaluate it in simple terms.
- Finally, actions are taken to reduce any risk exposure and ultimately reduce the attack surface by creating a repository of threat intelligence.
2. Prioritizing and Mitigating Threats in a Cost-Effective Way
By establishing a threat repository, risks can be prioritized and mitigated promptly. High-level risks are addressed immediately, while low-level risks are monitored and escalated if unusual activity is detected. This approach optimizes resource allocation, reduces cyber security costs, and empowers security teams to make informed decisions about addressing vulnerabilities.
3. Identifying and Eliminating Single Points of Failure
By deploying a range of defense tools to protect assets, organizations can take a layered view to avoid any single points of failure being exploited. All vulnerabilities can be evaluated, from those within a single application to the entire network, giving more control to security teams.
4. Determining the Cyberattack Kill Chain
For improved incident response, the steps likely taken by a potential attacker can be outlined, providing a better understanding of the Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP) that may be used by a hacker. This stage considers the initial reconnaissance, objectives, and likely actions that may be taken to exploit a vulnerability.
Threat modeling is a vital cybersecurity process that reduces the attack surface of an organization and allows security teams to take a proactive approach to protect assets and assess risk levels. Without threat modeling, many vulnerabilities may be overlooked, leaving an organization open to potential cyberattacks and data breaches.