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Advantages of threat modeling

The process of modeling threats is planned process that aims to determine security requirements, identify vulnerabilities and security threats assess vulnerability and threat importance and prioritize remediation strategies.

Threat modeling techniques generate these artifacts

A abstract representation of the system
A profile of attackers who could be a threat with their motivations and strategies
A listing of potential threats

Threat modeling identifies the threat agents that can cause damage to a computer system. It takes on the perspective of malicious hackers to assess the amount of damage they could cause. In the course of risk modeling, businesses conduct an extensive analysis of software architecture, the business context, and other documentation (e.g. Functional specifications and manuals). This helps to gain a better understanding and discovery of key elements in the application. Typically, companies use threat modeling in the design phase (but it may be conducted at different stages) of a new software to help developers identify weaknesses and be conscious of security consequences of their design, codes, and configurations. Generally, developers carry out threat modeling in four stages:

Diagram. What is the building we are working on?
Recognize dangers. What is the possibility of a problem?
Mitigate. What can we do to protect ourselves from threats?
Validate. Have we taken action in all the previous steps?

The advantages of threat modeling

If it is done properly when done correctly, threat modeling can give an unambiguous view of the software development process and help justify security measures. The process of threat modeling aids an organization in identifying security risks to the application, and then make logical choices about how to deal with the threats. In the absence of this, decision makers could make rash decisions in a reckless manner based on little or no evidence.

A well-documented threat model gives assurances that can be beneficial in explaining and protecting the security of a computer or application system. If the organization that develops is committed to security threat modeling, it’s the best way to achieve the following goals:

Find issues early in the lifecycle (SDLC)–even before programming begins.
Find design flaws that traditional methods of testing and code reviews might not be aware of.
Examine new ways of attacking that you would not normally think of.
Maximize the budget for testing by assisting in the selection of testing targets or code revision.
Determine the security needs.
Repair issues before software releases and avoid costly recoding after deployment.
Consider threats that go beyond the normal attacks and consider security concerns specific in your program.
Make sure that your frameworks are ahead of external and internal attackers pertinent to your application.
Make sure to highlight assets, threat actors and controls in order to determine the elements that attackers are likely to take aim at.
The model will identify the location of the threat agent’s location, their motives, skills and capabilities to find possible attackers within the architecture of the system.

Uncertainties about threat modeling

As a security procedure that is a security process, threat modeling can be susceptible to misunderstandings. Many people believe that threat modeling is just an exercise in design, others believe it is an optional activity that the penetration test or review may be substituted, and others believe it is just too complex. This article should help to in dispelling some of these myths:

Testing for penetration and reviewing code aren’t a replace threat modeling. Testing for penetration and secure code reviews are two methods that can be effective in identifying flaws in code. However cybersecurity assessments (e.g. threat models) are better at revealing weaknesses in design.

There’s a valid reason to develop an analysis of the threat following the deployment. The issues that are identified that are present in the current deployment can influence the security architecture that will be used in the future and identifying weaknesses allows for quicker and more efficient correction. If you aren’t aware of the threats the application faces it is difficult to ensure you’re dealing with all potential risks.

Threat modeling doesn’t need to be a lot of work. Many developers are scared by the thought that threat models are a part of their work. At first it may seem overwhelming. However, if you break up the tasks into workable steps, performing a threat model on a simple web application–or even a complex architecture–becomes systematic. The most important thing is to begin with the basics of best methods.

Best practices for threat modeling

The key benefit for threat analysis is to promote security knowledge across the entire team. It’s the initial step to making security the responsibility of everyone. In theory, threat modeling is a straightforward procedure. Consider these five guidelines for developing or revising the threat model:

1. Set out the scope and the extent of the analysis. Establish the scope of analysis with the people who have an interest, and then break it down to the analysis depth for each development team so that they are able to threat to model the software.

2. Get a clear understanding of the threats you’re modeling. Draw a diagram of the main elements of your system (e.g. application server data warehouse thick client, database) and the relationships between the components.

3. Consider the possibilities of attack. Determine the software assets, security controls, as well as threat agents. Draw their positions to build an identity model for your system (see the figure 1). After you’ve modelled the system, you’ll be able to discern what could be wrong (i.e. dangers) with methods such as STRIDE.

4. Recognize potential threats. To make an inventory of possible attacks you should ask questions like the following:

Are there ways that an agent of threat can get access to an asset, without having to pass through the control?

Can a threat actor be able to thwart this security measure?

What should a threat-agent do to overcome this control?

5. Develop a traceability matrix for inadequate or weak security measures. Examine the threats and follow their paths to control. If you access the software asset without having to go through a security checkpoint this could signal a threat. If you pass through a security checkpoint, you should consider whether it could stop the threat agent, or if the agent could have ways to get around it.

Synopsys Threat modeling method

Synopsys software security services offer threat modeling that can detect weaknesses that could increase the vulnerability of your system to attack, such as security design flaws, controls omissions, control weaknesses, configuration errors or misuse.

It is Synopsys high-level approach

Synopsys’ Synopsys High-Level Approach to Threat Modeling is affixed to these steps

Create a model of the system.
Conduct an analysis of the threat.
Prioritize the dangers.

Model the system

Modeling of systems consists of two elements:

Making a component diagram using the diagram of control flows (which will show all possible execution routes within the course of executing a program)
Identifying assets, security controls trust zones, as well as the threat agents

Conduct a threat assessment

Perhaps the most important task of threat modelling is the identification of threats. The majority of methods can be classified into two groups:

Checklist-based approaches. A majority of threat modeling techniques employ the use of a checklist, or a template. For instance, STRIDE recommends you consider the following types of threats: spoofing manipulation, repudiation, disclosure and denial of service and escalation of privilege for every data flow that crosses the boundary of trust.
Non-checklist-based approaches. These methods typically employ creative methods (e.g. brainstorming, for instance) to detect threats.

Synopsys threat analysis employs an approach similar to a checklist using templates to drive the analysis, but allows for the possibility of creative analysis. Synopsys utilizes pre-baked application protocols for threat analysis for widely used applications-level protocols like OAuth, SAML, OIDC, Kerberos, password-based authentication and many more. The list below isn’t comprehensive however it can help users to think about the potential areas to study.

Prioritizing dangers

When we’ve built the model and perform a threat analysis and have the list of potential threats. The next step is to decide how to determine their priority. At Synopsys we utilize the NIST method to rank threats. We use guidelines for assessing the likelihood and impact of every threat in order to determine its severity.