Threat Modeling: Tools, Importance, Process and Methodologies

Read it in 19 Mins

Published
19th Mar, 2023
Views
9,397
Threat Modeling: Tools, Importance, Process and Methodologies

Threat modeling works to spot, communicate, and perceive threats and alleviation at intervals in the context of securing one highly classified data. A threat model could be a structured illustration of all the data that causes an impact on the security of the application. It is a read of the application through the lens of security. Threat modeling is often applied to a good variety of things, as well as software systems, applications, networks, distributed systems, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and business processes. 

In 2020 a bunch of threat modeling practitioners, researchers, and authors got along to put in writing Threat Modeling Manifesto to "share a distilled version of the collective threat modeling information in a very manner that ought to inform, educate, and encourage different practitioners to adopt threat modeling still as an improving security and privacy throughout the development". The pronunciamento contains values and principles connected to the observation and adoption of Threat Modelling, still known patterns, and anti-patterns to facilitate it. 

As the IT field and technologies are expanding and growing day by day, building your career as a Cyber Security consultant would be a great option. CEH Exam Preparation program could be the most helpful course you might consider enrolling for that. 

What is Threat Modeling?

Threat modeling is the method for capturing, organizing, and analyzing all this data that is applied to a software system, it permits the decision-making regarding application security risks. Additionally, to manufacturing a model, typical threat modeling efforts conjointly turn out a prioritized list of security enhancements to the construct, necessities, design, or implementation of the Web application. By discovering the vulnerabilities or monitoring the attack surfaces, aiding with risk assessment strategies, and implementing corrective action, threat modeling helps improve cybersecurity and builds trust in key business systems.

A threat model includes: 

  • Description of the topic to be shapely determined 
  • Assumptions that may be checked or challenged in the future because the threat landscape changes. 
  • Potential threats to the system 
  • Actions that may be taken to mitigate every threat. 
  • A way of confirmatory the model and threats, and verifying of success of actions taken 

The course of action for threat modeling alters depending on the crucial classified information assets being labeled and defined. However, any tech-dependent business procedure can be convenient in one way or another. With the aid of threat modeling, the terms of reference of threats facing a particular procedure or system can be narrowed down, then analyzed. This eliminates the confusion about what the threats could be, as well as how to protect against them. Further, it provides IT teams with the information they require to safeguard the system long before a threat affects it. 

A good example of what exactly one's threat model should look like.

The threat modeling strategy counts on a sequential series of actions. Even though they can be performed individually, they are interdependent, so accomplishing them together furnish a more comprehensive scenery of the threat situation. 

If you are planning to begin your career in Cyber Security and do not know which certification to pursue. Best online Cyber Security Certificate program is the course to follow that shares the knowledge of the security program one should consider. This article will guide you through the best certification programs you might want to undertake to build your skillsets and grow more in this domain.  

Why is Threat Modeling Important?

You should consider doing threat modeling regularly including it as a calendarized task/activity to make it more effective considering the recent ongoing cyber-attacks. The associations should also consider contemporizing their threat models continuously throughout their early-stage development lifecycle. These continuous actions are less extensive, but they also pose a lesser responsibility in the duration of time and effort. When this has been successfully implemented and executed, it can assist an organization in deeply understanding the security implications of counting a certain element or altering a separate operation. 

Various models exist for what belongs in a threat model, but all should include threats or vulnerabilities from the white hat perspective. For example, if any zero-attacks arise for any of the third-party libraries, runtimes, OS versions, etc one should have visibility of the affected assets within the infrastructure. The following are some of the most essential elements: 

  • Gather information about attacks targeting these assets and estimate the likelihood of specific exploits being successful given the current configuration settings. It is ideal for gathering information on various exploits, including exploits particular to the OS, the version of an OS, the host operating system, and the kernel. 
  • Evaluate the validity of these vulnerabilities. The validity of these exploits will help you determine the methodology for threat modeling: just because there is a vulnerability that allows for root access does not mean it will be exploited. Other risks include spamming and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks using legitimate traffic to overwhelm your Defense mechanisms. 

When Should You Perform Threat Modeling?

Threat Modelling could be performed atany stage of the development. However, if accomplished at the beginning it will assist in the early determination of threats that can be dealt with appropriately. Threat modeling aims to identify, communicate, and comprehend threats and alleviation to the organization's stakeholders as early as feasible.

What are the Benefits of Threat Modeling?

Threat modeling has the following key benefits: 

  • It aids in prioritizing threats, assuring that resources and engagements are distributed effectively. This prioritization could be helpful during the planning, design, and implementation of security controls to assure that solutions are as adequate as possible. 
  • Ensures protection is in sequence with developing threats. If not, new threats may stay unprotected, leaving systems and data vulnerable. 
  • Permits teams to adopt or develop new tools. It allows the team to comprehend how the tools and applications might be vulnerable to what security controls are implemented. 
  • Enables the development team to prioritize the vulnerability fixes according to the severity and impact of anticipated threats. 
  • It Detects issues prematurely in the software development life cycle (SDLC). 
  • It locates the design faults that traditional testing methods and code reviews may not encounter. 
  • It considers threats beyond ordinary attacks to the security problems unique to your application. 
  • It retains frameworks beforehand of the internal and external malicious users suitable to your applications. 
  • It highlights assets, threat agents, and controls to figure out components that attackers will target. 
  • It models the area of threat agents, motivations, skills, and abilities to locate conceivable attackers concerning the system architecture. 

How Does Threat Modeling Work?

Threat modeling works by recognizing the different types of threat agents that induce liability to an application or a computer system. When accomplishing threat modeling, organizations do conduct a thorough analysis of the software architecture, business context, and other artifacts (e.g., functional specifications, and user documentation). This approach enables them a more profound understanding and discovery of crucial aspects of the system. Commonly, organizations complete threat modeling during the configuration stage (but it can appear at other stages) of a new application to help the organizations encounter vulnerabilities and become aware of the security importance of their design, code, and configuration decisions. Typically, developers perform threat modeling in four steps

  • Architecture 
  • Identifying potential threats 
  • Mitigate strategies.  
  • Validating the security controls 

Threat Modeling Process

There are five key steps in the threat Modeling Process 

  1. To set the objectives: - the goal should include accomplishing the CIA triad. 
  2. What are we building? – to design appropriate processes and data flow diagrams to monitor the attack surfaces and identify the crucial assets. Also, monitor third-party components' interaction within your system.  
  3. Identifying the threats: - Now that you have identified the crucial information assets, you need to identify the multiple ways in which your assets could be compromised. Analyzing the diagrams to understand the actual threats.  
  4. Preventive measures to mitigate the identified threats: - Once you have identified the various types of threats that could compromise your CIA triad, now you need to find preventive actions against them.  
  5. Validating the implemented fixes: - Once the threats are mitigated, you also need to validate those instances to prevent them from getting future similar attacks.

Threat Modeling Techniques and Methodologies

When conducting threat modeling, there are many considerable methodologies you could use. The correct model for you depends on what types of threats you are trying to model and the objective. 

1. STRIDE - STRIDE is an acronym for

Spoofing  

Identity theft: this happens when an attacker pretends to be somebody to commit social engineering attacks. Typical examples are phishing emails, vishing, etc.  

Tampering  

Tampering involves the alteration of crucial information and falsifying it to carry further focused attacks. 

Repudiation  

A reputational loss occurs when an attacker performs illegal or malicious actions targeting an organization resulting to break the trust and create a bad brand image.  

Information disclosure  

Exposure to sensitive information or leaking it that was supposed to be private within the organization. Loss of data could cause integrity damage.  

Denial of service (DoS)  

DoS attack allows a malicious actor to perform targeted attacks on servers by flooding the network with continuous packets restricting the authorized users from accessing any resources. 

Elevation of Privilege  

Unknowingly granting excessive permissions could lead to privilege escalations and performing unauthorized actions.

2. Process for Attack Simulation and Threat Analysis (PASTA)

In this PASTA threat model, the objectives and technical scope is the key element to focus on. While designing the process its crucial to focus on the attack surface and analysis of the threat and further define the remediation strategies.  

3. Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS)

We all are never aware of the Zero-days. Any type of vulnerability that is exploited has a defined CVSS score that also defines the impact and damage it could cause when identified.  

4. Visual, Agile, and Simple Threat (VAST)

  1. Operational threat model 
  2. Application threat model 

5. Trike 

  1. Coordination and collaboration across stakeholders via this abstract framework 
  2. By exploiting knowledge Flow Diagrams (DFDs) AN illustration is formed for the flow of information wherever the user will then perform actions in a system 
  3. Threats area unit analyzed to enumerate and assign a risk price, permitting it to contribute to overall risk management. 
  4. Security controls or preventive measures area unit outlined to deal with the threats.  
  5. Contains constitutional prioritization of threat mitigation. 
  6. Automated elements 

6. Attack Trees

  1. The AttackTree software package provides a complicated setting within which to quickly build associated analyze attack tree models and gift the ends up in an easy-to-understand format. AttackTree additionally permits users to outline indicators that quantify the price of associate attack, the operational issue in mounting the attack, and the other relevant quantitative live which will be of interest. queries like 'which attacks have the very best chance of success at an occasional value to the attacker?' or 'which attacks have the very best chance of success with no special instrumentation required?' will be answered by victimization AttackTree. In AttackTree, completely different classes and levels of consequence might also be assigned to nodes within the attack tree. A fortunate attack might have money, political, operational, and safety consequences. A partly fortunate attack might have a unique level of consequence than a completely fortunate attack. of these varieties of consequence, measures could also be shapely in AttackTree. 

7. Security Cards

  1. Security Cards are a group action tool that helps discover less common or novel attacks and the best way to reply to them. 

8. Hybrid Threat Modeling Method (hTMM)

  1. Security Quality Requirements Engineering (SQUARE)  
  2. Persona non Grata (PnG)

How to Choose a Threat Model Method 

When accomplishing threat modeling, there are many processes and aspects to be considered by the organization. Failing to contain one of the following components could lead to insufficient models and could prevent threats from being appropriately addressed. 

  1. Apply appropriate threat intelligence. 
  2. Identifying crucial assets 
  3. Identifying and implementing complete mitigation capabilities 
  4. Assessing risks 
  5. Performing threat mapping 
  6. Design Cyber-kill chain Model  

What is Cyber-kill chain Model?

Cyber-kill chain model in cybersecurity is a visualization and study of a real-world cyber-attack and its offensive behavior. This model is used to track back the stages of cyber-attack and analyze it further. This model is a blueprint for the incident response (blue team), and other InfoSec researchers on how to detect, analyze, and stop the cyber-attack.

Top Threat Modeling Frameworks/Tools of 2022

Identifying the threats in the crucial information assets can be challenging and is inclined to blunder. Threat modeling is the method for capturing, organizing, and analyzing all this data. Applied to a software system, it permits the decision-making regarding application security risks. Additionally, to manufacturing a model, typical threat modeling efforts conjointly turn out a prioritized list of security enhancements to the construct, necessities, design, or implementation of the Web application. Let us peek at a few well-known threat modeling frameworks. 

  1. IriusRisk 
  2. Varonis 
  3. CAIRIS 
  4. Security Compass 
  5. Threagile 
  6. Kenna Security 
  7. ThreatModeler 
  8. ARIA Cybersecurity Solutions 
  9. OWASP Threat Dragon 
  10. Microsoft Threat Modeling Tool 
  11. Securonix Security Operations and Analytics 

Advantages of Threat Modeling

A well-designed threat model furnishes validations that are valuable in clarifying and defending the security stance of an application or an information system. When the development organization is taking the security of the application profoundly, threat modeling is the most adequate way. The advantages of threat modeling are as follows: 

  • It models the area of threat agents, motivations, skills, and abilities to locate conceivable attackers concerning the system architecture. 
  • It estimates all unknown forms of cyber-attacks that you might not have otherwise assumed. 
  • It maximizes the testing budgets by permitting focused testing and code reviews. 
  • It identifies the appropriate security requirements as per the architectural view. 
  • It remediates concerns before the software release and contains the costing post-deployment. 
  • It Detects issues prematurely in the software development life cycle (SDLC). 
  • It locates the design faults that traditional testing methods and code reviews may not encounter. 
  • It considers threats beyond ordinary attacks to the security problems unique to your application. 
  • It retains frameworks beforehand of the internal and external malicious users suitable to your applications. 
  • It highlights assets, threat agents, and controls to figure out components that attackers will target. 

Best Practices of Threat Modeling

Till now we have understood the various way of securing an application proactively and the methods associated with it along the process of designing it which could be used effectively. Here are some best practices to follow for a robust threat modeling process. 

  1. It is always a challenging task to keep a track of all the changes in any working environment and look out for the security vulnerabilities associated with it. But creating a process and following it once could lead you to bigger problems. Follow a cycle of changes to be implemented effectively in the SDLC process itself. 
  2. The crucial part of the Threat modeling process is to have well-defined and explained documentation for further reference and include the change management process and updates to be shared across all the stakeholders. 
  3. To keep the feasibility of integrating the threat modeling steps into the current existing working environment and DevSecOps process.  
  4. Do not try to deal with all the identified vulnerabilities at the same time.  
  5. Wherever possible try to utilize the existing resources to set a time frame for the threat modeling process. Creating a matrix that could be used to track the previously identified vulnerabilities.

How do I Measure the Effectiveness of Threat Modeling?

The following ways could help you to estimate the effectiveness of threat modeling: 

  1. Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). It has some inline scores for the identified vulnerabilities. The IT information assets and IoT devices; the scores could be computed.  
  2. To carry out activities such as red teaming more often is referred to as "ethical hacking," Red Team Assessments are performed to measure the strength of applications, Cloud, network infrastructure, DataCenter, Office Premises, and Vendor Premises from the perspective of a real-life adversary.

Misconceptions of Threat Modeling

There are a few common misconceptions regarding threat modeling that could cause many organizations to lose interest in designing and building it.  

1. We do conduct a regular vulnerability assessment and penetration testing and code review. We do cover design flaws if identified.

Yes, even if these activities are covered there is slight a possibility of keeping loose ends that could be exploited in the future if the design flaw is identified. Therefore, it is crucial to develop a well-documented and designed threat modeling tool that is mature enough to identify the vulnerabilities at an early stage of development.  

2. We do have our system deployed, UP and running in our working environment. What is the purpose to deploy threat modeling?

  • If you fail to have the threat model deployed in your production working environment, you may find the following challenges: 
  • Unaware of your PROD security controls implemented and attack surface. 
  • Unaware of the potential risk that is still undiscovered could lead to disruptions in the CIA triad. 
  • Failing to validate and monitor the production changes and associated security vulnerabilities. 
  • Might lose track of existing vulnerabilities and the remediation. 

3. We designed and developed our threat model at the early stage of software design and development. Why do we need to do it again?

  • It is always a challenging task to keep a track of all the changes in any working environment and look out for the security vulnerabilities associated with it. But creating a process and following it once could lead you to bigger problems. Follow a cycle of changes to be implemented effectively in the SDLC process itself. 

4. We tried acknowledging the threat modeling solution once but felt it is way too complex to operate.

  • At first, it may seem like the most challenging task. But if you divide these tasks and distribute them among the team it could reduce the complexity. 
  • You could also try building and designing the threat model for a smaller application and once you feel comfortable with the process you think of bigger goals. 

5. We currently do not have security experts we cannot opt for the threat modeling activity.

  • Designing and building a threat model is more like cooking. At first, you may not know certain things about cooking because you are not a good chef. However, to become one you first need to learn how to boil the water first.

Conclusion

Threat modeling is a structured exercise for recognizing and estimating the IT systems, IoT devices, applications, etc. threats, vulnerabilities, and risks associated with them. One should begin the threat modeling exercise prematurely in the strategy phase and then continuously update and refine the model as you will learn more about your design and implementation.

As Cyber Security is growing day by day and so are the concerns raised by various top-rated companies to protect their information assets. They are many great opportunities in Cyber Security. If you have an interest in this domain and want to grow more in this area you need to have specific skill sets to grab the upcoming and existing opportunities. KnowledgeHut's CEH Exam Preparation will help you achieve the skill set to build your career and take advantage of upcoming opportunities.

Profile

Antara Mane

Blog Author

Antara is a passionate Information, Network Security Professional, Pen-Tester/Trainer/Speaker, and Researcher. Experienced in identifying potential vulnerabilities on various Webs, Networks, mobile apps, APIs, and Cloud env. and ensuring the security of network systems. She has been proactively and independently managing a few startup companies to identify security gaps and potential threats and is helping them implement the necessary controls. She is a Cyber Security Awareness Trainer @ SecureNexus, Lead Speaker/Trainer @ OWASP Global APAC, InfoSecgirls, InfoSecDiversity, and Securzy – Mumbai. She enjoys writing Technical Blogs - ref: https://antaramane.medium.com/. She is an International freelancing Auditor and Information Security Technical Specialist.

Share This Article
Need help building a career in Cyber Security?

Avail your free 1:1 mentorship session.

Select
Your Message (Optional)

Threat Modeling FAQs

1What is the purpose of threat modeling?

The main purpose of Threat modeling is to capture, organize and analyze the data that is applied to a software system, it permits decision-making regarding application security risks. Additionally, to manufacturing a model, typical threat modeling efforts conjointly turn out a prioritized list of security enhancements to the construct, necessities, design, or implementation of the Web application. By discovering the vulnerabilities or monitoring the attack surfaces, aiding with risk assessment strategies, and implementing corrective action, threat modeling helps improve cybersecurity and builds trust in key business systems.

2How do you start a threat model?

To start the threat model, you must analyze the security gaps and the current preventive controls in place and then set the goals. What exactly are you looking to accomplish? Further, start analyzing the attack surface and threats. What could go wrong (assuming a situation) and then building the remediation plans for it? Once the remediation plan is ready all you need to do is implement and validate it to prevent future attacks. Then repeat the process.

3What is the role of threat Modeling in risk management?

Threat modeling plays a vital role in risk management as it assesses the vulnerabilities, and aids in identifying the security gaps and their impact. It also helps to identify the occurrence of the threats and calculate the risk associated with them. With the help of this information, you could also implement additional security controls to reduce the risk to acceptable levels.

4How can you identify threats through threat modeling?

As threat modeling comes into the picture in an early phase of development, where the design and data flow diagram is already set and as per the threat modeling process, the initial staging of identifying threats begins by reviewing the code via automation.  

5How do you do application threat modeling?

To do threat modeling for an application, you first need to set objectives as what are you trying to protect, identify critical attack surfaces, then design a diagram flow for it, and then analyze the potential threats and calculate the risks associated with it. The final step is to apply the remediation strategies and validate them.

Upcoming Cyber Security Batches & Dates

NameDateFeeKnow more