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Threat Modelling Process in Cyber Security

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Threat modeling entails systematically analyzing a system’s architecture to detect potential vulnerabilities before they reveal themselves, and assess their severity level. First described by Loren Kohnfelder and Praerit Garg in 1999, the threat modeling process was initially based on the notion of attack trees. The latter is an intuitive aid for analyzing security weaknesses in the form of unambiguous graphical diagrams that simulate a variety of attack scenarios. If carried out the right way and with the right tools, the threat modeling process can be used to build a baseline for keeping tabs on evolving risks.

Any threat model is expected to answer the following questions:

  • What exactly are you trying to build? Scrutinize each data flow and the defenses used throughout the whole journey.
  • Is there anything that can go wrong? Think about each hand-off point that can be exploited.
  • What can be done about it? Create solutions for all identified threats.
  • Did you succeed? Go back to the very beginning and review the process to see areas that might require some refinement in the future.

Threat Modeling Methods

Over the years, a multitude of threat modeling methodologies has sprung up. Some of them are usually applied alone, whereas others can be used only in combination with other methods. The end result of a threat modeling method can be a profile of attackers, a list of weaknesses, etc.

To choose the right method for your threat modeling process, you should carefully evaluate the specific needs of the project or company.

The right time for the threat modeling process

Even though there are no canonical rules when it comes to timing, the earlier you detect potential loopholes and build defenses against them, the better. Ideally, the threat modeling process should start during the design phase of the software development life cycle when the architecture is finally in place. That being said, the threat modeling process will bring you immense value even if your product/app is approaching the deployment stage. Be prepared for higher costs involved though as they typically go up further along in the software development life cycle.

Anyway, threat models are undergoing changes and no one can guarantee you 100% protection against threats regardless of the stage when the threat modelling process has been performed. 

The roundup of top 5 threat modeling tools

  1. Cairis is a highly popular open-source web-based threat modeling tool for process that analyzes your system architecture from 12 different views and allows you to create criminal mastermind personas.
  2. IriusRisk is an intuitive subscription-based threat modeling tool with a solid reporting system and unique diagramming features. It makes the threat modeling process faster, simpler, and more scalable.
  3. ThreatModeler is a highly robust threat modeling tool jammed with powerful features that include a template builder, a threat engine, threat model versioning, etc. This easy-to-navigate platform is perfect for big corporations with complex systems.
  4. Kenna.VM is a SaaS vulnerability intelligence platform that can be used as a comprehensive threat modeling tool. Based on data science and real-world threats, it is capable of providing any company with the most accurate risk prioritization. By processing billions of data points and real-time monitoring, Kenna.VM will help you effectively identify vulnerabilities.
  5. Threagile is an open-source threat modeling tool that lets you break the walls between info security and engineering. Based on declarative modeling, it can be used to represent architecture as YAML files. 

The threat modeling process is notorious for slowing down production, which makes some companies reluctant to keep threat modeling high on their priority list even though they are aware of the potential consequences of exploited vulnerabilities. According to a recent survey, about 25% of organizations perform the threat modeling process during the initial stages of software development before any code is written. Many of them resort to threat modeling at later stages when the costs of mitigating issues become too high. If you’re considering threat modeling for your company, you can always rely on the Hacken team who has all the resources and tech expertise for making this process as painless, fast, and effective as possible.

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Table of contents

  • Threat Modeling Methods
  • The right time for the threat modeling process

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