A Secure SDLC Starts With Threat Modeling Software


Maintaining a secure DevOps environment is crucial for protecting the private, confidential data maintained by your organization. This rule of thumb applies to the entire software development life cycle (SDLC). SDLC involves the planning, designing, creating, testing, and deploying of information systems and applications. 

Identifying security threats after the software design phase can lead to time-consuming back and forth between security, DevOps, and Quality Assurance (QA) teams. Delays in production leave developers to continually backtrack and manage newly found security threats, wasting additional effort in the development process.

With the use of threat modeling software, threats can be detected and mitigated early on in the software development lifecycle (SDLC), during the initial development stages, saving organizations valuable time and effort.

Modern application threat modeling software following the VAST methodology provides actionable outcomes for DevOps teams to easily conduct risk assessments and address threats for a more secure SDLC. The VAST threat modeling methodology is vital for DevOps security because it is founded on the idea that threat modeling is only useful if it encompasses the entire SDLC, throughout the whole organization.

By aligning the operational and application threat modeling process to provide organizations with a holistic approach to mitigating threats, threat modeling software becomes a robust DevOps tool essential to the development process of secure software and applications.

Learn more: Application Threat Modeling vs Operational Threat Modeling

Why a Secure SDLC is Important 

Secure SDLC should ensure that software development is protected from origin to discontinuation. Appsec practices ensure that IT systems are protected on the basis of integrity, availability and confidentiality. An adequate security program is important because if a data is compromised, an organization may be held liable for steep fines, sometimes up to millions of dollars. State, federal and international agencies, for example, enforce levies if proper security practices are not followed.

Not having a secure SDLC process in place can be costly. In addition to hefty compliance breach fines, an organization may be required to allocate extra resources to update its data protection, e.g. web application security. Keeping the mindset that security risks are ever present, an organization’s development team will take the precautions necessary to ensure secure software development life cycles. 

A continuous effort should be made to ensure secure SDCL throughout all phases, which include:

  • Requirement gathering and analysis
  • Design
  • Implementation or coding
  • Testing
  • Deployment
  • Maintenance

Secure SDLC Benefits to Organizations

The secure software development process lends itself to agile development, in that it is ongoing and iterative. Secure SDCL seeks to be preventative in terms of reducing risk and overall cost. Whether conducting risk analysis, evaluating security requirements or building out your security controls, your organization should invest adequate resources into secure SDSL as part of your maturity model. Security awareness should permeate your entire organization, as personnel at all levels become aware of security vulnerabilities and how to mitigate them.

Secure SDCL processes will benefit your organization in the following ways:

  • Build stakeholder awareness of software security levels for informed decision making
  • Detect flaws and vulnerabilities at an early, preventative level
  • Ensure compliance with business, regulatory and statutory regulations
  • Create documentation for system architecture that identifies secure coding practices for practical reuse 

Threat modeling is a method that, when included in secure SDSL, helps IT security managers to better understand security threats and the requirements that are required to mitigate them.

Some Proposed Secure SDLC Models 

Secure SDLC is important to not only to an organization, but also its customers. In building security-related solutions, IT managers should consider instilling a model that is standard across organizations. The following are some examples:

MS Security Development Lifecycle: Microsoft created this set of security and privacy requirements to help developers with  information security throughout the entire software build process. The MS Security Development Lifecycle document contains guidance, best practices, tools and processes that are updated on a regular basis.

NIST 800-160 Volume 1: NIST is the publisher of international information security standards. Also known as “Systems Security Engineering: Considerations for a Multidisciplinary Approach in the Engineering of Trustworthy Secure Systems,” NIST 800-160 describes methods, practices and techniques to secure systems throughout the software engineering process.

OWASP SAMM: The Open Web Application Security Project Software Assurance Maturity Model aids companies to implement strategies to build and deploy secure products. OWASP SAMM’s steps include:

  • Evaluating and identifying an organization’s existing security activities, plus measuring their effectiveness
  • Iteratively building an information security management system that is balanced and comprehensive
  • Seeking ways to continuously improve on security practices

Threat Modeling Benefits for DevOps and Application Security 

In addition to the faster production of applications, here are some key benefits for why organizations are rapidly integrating threat modeling software into their SDLC:

1. Operational Visibility

Threat modeling software provides organizations with holistic visibility into the operational environment to quickly uncover potential threats, while automation tools detect real-time cyber attack activity. DevOps teams gain greater operational visibility for precisely which applications or components are vulnerable to cyber threats while applying real-time threat intelligence insights to address new threats.

2. Quality Assurance

With enhanced operational visibility, organizations can drastically improve DevOps quality assurance as teams gain clarity into security issues while applications are in the design phase and throughout the development lifecycle. Threat modeling software also reduces network-scanner false positives, meaning security teams can identify and concentrate on proactively designing QA tests before applications are coded.

3. Improved Application Security

Implementing automated threat modeling software improves application security by leveraging an automated threat intelligence framework to quickly build and update threat models for new applications or DevOps projects. When implemented across the production portfolio, DevOps teams can identify up to 99% of potential SAST (Static Application Security Testing) and DAST (Dynamic Application Security Testing) issues before application coding begins.

4. Improved Collaboration

Modern threat modeling software, like the ThreatModeler platform, goes a step further, using process flow diagrams to display threat models in an easy-to-understand format. These visuals are less complex than traditional data-flow diagrams, improving visibility and comprehension of threat models for developers and non-security professionals, so they can incorporate security into the SDLC more effectively.

Improved understanding of threat models and cyber risk management allows senior management, security specialists, and software developers to better collaborate on effective prioritization and mitigation of threats. This alignment on organization-wide security increases the awareness of security across the organization, regardless of expertise.

Application Threat Modeling Software

ThreatModeler is an automated threat modeling solution that strengthens an enterprise’s SDLC by identifying, predicting and defining threats across all applications and devices in the operational IT stack. Security and DevOps teams are empowered to make proactive decisions from holistic views and data analytics of their attack surface, enabling enterprises to minimize their overall risk.

To learn more about how your organization can identify security threats during the SDLC for faster, smarter, more secure application production, request a free evaluation of the ThreatModeler platform or contact us to speak with an application threat modeling expert today.

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