Threat Modeling Methodologies Overview: Which is Best for Your Business?


Threat modeling, a scalable process of increasing security of applications by identifying potential threats and defining measures to prevent them, is a vital component of protecting enterprise data in a changing threat landscape. There are a variety of threat modeling methodologies that are designed and implemented in different ways.

Organizations can build security processes within the framework of different threat modeling methodologies, each of which has different strengths and weaknesses.

ThreatModeler Software Inc. is leading the way in redefining automated threat modeling for enterprises while embracing the VAST methodology. However, there are a variety of common threat modeling methodologies that listed below based on their primary focus or objective.

Threat Modeling Methodologies Overview

OCTAVE (Practice Focused)

The OCTAVE threat modeling method (Operationally Critical Threat, Asset, and Vulnerability Evaluation) is one of the first threat modeling methodologies created and focuses specifically on operational risk and security practices

OCTAVE threat modeling methodologies take a group of key stakeholders from different departments, including IT, and creates a security team that evaluates potential cyber threats. This approach is flexible and can be applied to almost any organization. Security evaluations are self-directed by the organization, so OCTAVE works best in companies that have excellent knowledge of the applicable threat landscape.

On the downside, however, OCTAVE lacks scalability – as technological systems add users, applications, and functionality, a manual process can quickly become unmanageable.

STRIDE (Developer Focused)

STRIDE (Spoofing, Tampering, Repudiation, Information disclosure, Denial of service, Elevation of privilege) is a design-phase threat modeling methodology, created for developers to identify and mitigate security risks before deployment.  

STRIDE threat modeling methodologies provides a framework for companies to resolve potential issues during the design phase, which minimizes risk and disruption. However, to address new threats as they arise after an application is in use, STRIDE threat modeling must be used in combination with a post-deployment evaluation process. Developers need to remember this pitfall because the further along in the SDLC process a company addresses security issues, the more costly they will be to resolve.

Learn more: Comparing ThreatModeler to Microsoft Threat Modeling Tool (TMT)

PASTA (Attacker Focused)

PASTA (Process for Attack Simulation and Threat Analysis) is a methodology that uses simulated attacks to provide threat identification and risk scoring for an organization. PASTA threat modeling offers application assessments from the attacker’s point of view, which can then be used to construct a strategy for defense.

PASTA threat modeling methodologies work best for organizations that wish to align threat modeling with strategic objectives because it incorporates business impact analysis as an integral part of the process and expands cybersecurity responsibilities beyond the IT department.

This alignment can sometimes be a weakness of the PASTA threat modeling methodologies. Depending on the technological literacy of key stakeholders throughout the organization, adopting the PASTA methodology can require many additional hours of training and education.

Trike (Acceptable Risk Focused) 

The Trike methodology is a unique approach to threat modeling, as it requires stakeholders to assign ‘acceptable risk’ to each class of assets before threat assessment. This ‘requirements model’ is then compared to identified threats to the system, and used to prioritize remediation activities.

The key to the Trike threat modeling system is that it automates the repetitive actions associated with threat modeling, freeing up resources for higher-level assessments. Another positive aspect is that the threat model is live so that updates can be applied and implemented immediately.

However, because Trike threat modeling requires a person to hold a view of the entire system to conduct an attack surface analysis, it can be challenging to scale to larger systems.

VAST (Enterprise Focused)

VAST (Visual, Agile, Simple Threat modeling) is founded on the idea that threat modeling will only be effective if it encompasses the entire software development lifecycle, across a whole enterprise. VAST threat modeling methodologies must integrate seamlessly with Agile environments and provide actionable insights for key stakeholders throughout the organization.

VAST threat modeling incorporates the automation of processes, integration of systems, and collaboration of stakeholders to create a scalable, sustainable threat modeling practice. This enterprise-focused method provides threat visualization that can be interpreted by stakeholders of varying degrees of technical proficiency so that organizations can distribute cybersecurity responsibilities.

All threat modeling methodologies are created to help an organization systematically and effectively protect valuable data and operations from potential threats – identifying, evaluating, and mitigating them based on the level of risk to the system.

Get the Business Case: Threat Modeling Example for IoT Security

ThreatModeler is defining truly automated threat modeling for enterprise organizations that can easily scale alongside the business.

ThreatModeler is an automated threat modeling solution that strengthens an enterprise’s SDLC by identifying, predicting and defining threats, empowering security and DevOps teams to make proactive security decisions. ThreatModeler™ provides a holistic view of the entire attack surface, enabling enterprises to minimize their overall risk. Our threat modeling platform provides teams of any size the ability to scale their threat modeling program and gain a deeper understanding of the attack surface.

To see how ThreatModeler can drive security throughout your enterprise with the industry’s leading automated threat modeling platform, schedule a free 10-day evaluation with one of our security experts today.

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