By Matthew Olney on May 15, 2024

What is Threat Modelling in Cyber Security?

Cyber Risk and Assurance

Threat modelling is crucial for cyber security as it’s a pivotal practice for identifying, understanding, and mitigating potential threats to systems, applications, and networks. By proactively addressing security risks, organisations can bolster their defences, protect sensitive data, and ensure operational integrity. In this blog we look into what threat modelling entails, its importance, and some of the methodologies used.

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Understanding Threat Modelling

Threat modelling is a structured approach to identifying and evaluating potential security threats. It involves systematically analysing the ways in which an adversary might compromise the security of an asset. The process typically includes identifying valuable assets, understanding potential threats and vulnerabilities, and assessing the possible impact of these threats.

The ultimate goal of threat modelling is to prioritise security efforts, enabling organisations to allocate resources effectively to counter the most significant risks. This proactive approach contrasts with reactive measures, where responses are only developed after a security incident has occurred.

The Importance of Threat Modelling

Risk Identification and Mitigation: By identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities early in the development cycle, organisations can implement mitigation strategies before they become exploitable. This reduces the risk of security breaches and minimises potential damage.

Resource Allocation: Threat modelling helps organisations focus their security resources on the most critical areas. This ensures that limited resources are used efficiently, providing maximum protection where it matters most.

Compliance and Standards: Many industries are governed by strict regulatory requirements concerning data security. Threat modelling can help organisations meet these requirements by demonstrating a proactive approach to identifying and managing risks.

Improved Communication: The process of threat modelling fosters better communication among stakeholders, including developers, security teams, and management. By creating a common understanding of potential threats, teams can work more cohesively to address security concerns.

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Methodologies in Threat Modelling

Several methodologies and frameworks are commonly used in threat modelling. These methodologies provide structured approaches to identifying and assessing threats.

STRIDE: Developed by Microsoft, STRIDE is an acronym for six categories of threats: Spoofing, Tampering, Repudiation, Information Disclosure, Denial of Service, and Elevation of Privilege. This model helps teams systematically analyse potential threats by focusing on these specific categories.

DREAD: Another model from Microsoft, DREAD stands for Damage potential, Reproducibility, Exploitability, Affected users, and Discoverability. It is a risk assessment model used to evaluate and prioritise threats based on their potential impact.

PASTA: The Process for Attack Simulation and Threat Analysis (PASTA) is a risk-centric methodology that aligns business objectives with technical requirements. It consists of seven stages, from defining objectives to analysing the impact of threats, making it a comprehensive approach to threat modelling.

Attack Trees: This methodology involves creating a tree-like diagram where the root represents an attack goal, and the branches represent various ways to achieve that goal. Attack trees help visualise potential attack paths and identify critical vulnerabilities.

VAST: Visual, Agile, and Simple Threat modelling (VAST) aims to integrate threat modelling into agile development processes. It focuses on providing actionable insights without overwhelming developers with complex models.

Implementing Threat Modelling

Implementing threat modelling involves several key steps:

Define Scope: Identify the assets to be protected and the boundaries of the system. This includes understanding the architecture, data flows, and dependencies.

Identify Threats: Use the chosen methodology to systematically identify potential threats and vulnerabilities. Consider both internal and external threats.

Assess Risks: Evaluate the potential impact and likelihood of each threat. Prioritise threats based on their severity and the value of the assets at risk.

Develop Mitigation Strategies: For each identified threat, develop and implement strategies to mitigate the risk. This might include technical controls, policy changes, or user training.

Review and Update: Regularly review and update the threat model to account for changes in the system, emerging threats, and evolving security practices.

How Integrity360 Can Help

Integrity360's Threat Modelling solutions provide a next-generation cyber security defence, enabling organisations to understand their level of threat exposure. This comprehensive approach helps identify who is likely to attack your organisation, how and why an attack could occur, and what information is likely to be targeted.

The threat modelling process at Integrity360 involves a series of workshops designed to identify high-risk threat vectors facing your organisation. During these workshops, the following key questions are addressed:

  • What information is likely to be targeted?
  • Who is likely to attack?
  • Why will they attack, and what are their objectives?
  • How will the attack occur?
  • How can the threat likelihood and impact be minimised?
  • What’s my level of threat exposure?

Threat Modelling Deliverables from Integrity360:

Threat Intelligence Framework: Provide a structure upon which threat intelligence can be established.

Enhanced Threat Control: Enable better control of threats, understanding their increasing number and sophistication, and identifying the motivation of threat actors.

Contextual Baseline: Establish a baseline based on geography and industry for understanding threat actors.

Advanced Cyber-Attack Understanding: Facilitate understanding of more sophisticated cyber-attacks where preventive controls are no longer sufficient.

Cyber Kill Chain Mapping: Map threats on the cyber kill chain to demonstrate the attack process.

Threat Score Calculation: Calculate your cyber incident preparedness index/threat score using a sustainable threat modelling approach.

Effectiveness Assessment: Assess the overall effectiveness of your current cyber defence tools and benchmark them against industry peers.

Threat Mitigation Measures: Assist in identifying mitigation measures for major threats in your organisation’s context.

Cyber Security Strategy Development: Aid in building your overall cyber security strategy and provide direction for driving cyber defence programmes, focusing on identification, detection, and response throughout the lifecycle of an attack.

By leveraging Integrity360's robust solutions, organisations can align with best practice frameworks and fortify their cyber security strategies. Ensuring comprehensive support and advanced threat modelling capabilities, Integrity360 helps safeguard your business from potential threats and vulnerabilities that could otherwise wreak havoc on your network. If you’d like to learn get in touch.

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