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What Is Threat Modeling?

Threat modeling is a proactive approach to identifying entry points to enumerate threats and building security to prevent security breaches in applications and computer systems.

Threat models allow organizations to identify, predict, and define internal and external security threats from the attacker’s point of view, and protect their valuable assets by building a defense strategy that prioritizes resources and prepares the appropriate response. Threat models provide a comprehensive view of the organization’s full attack surface, helping CISOs and other security team members to make decisions on how to prioritize security actions.

What Are the Benefits of Threat Modeling?

When developers are designing a new application, instead of having your development team identify and fix security issues during the testing and scanning phase, smart organizations experience significant cost savings by using threat modeling software to identify potential security threats up front during the design phase.

A comprehensive enterprise threat modeling process enables an organization to gain a full understanding of its attack surface. Armed with this information, CISOs and security executives can stay on top of new and emerging threats while prioritizing security initiatives, minimizing the organization’s exposure to those identified threats.

Attacks today are becoming more and more modernized, particularly when driven by profit-oriented cybercriminals, and their focus is being shifted from individuals to enterprises. Trend Micro CISO Ed Cabrera notes that the sophistication and covertness of these cybercriminals’ methods have reached levels normally only attributed to state-sponsored actors.[1] By implementing threat modeling, security teams can see how many threats are at play, automatically as the threat models are updated, making sure defenses are in place before new applications or updates move into production.

Learn More: Threat Modeling 101: How Can It Help My Business?

5 reasons enterprises should consider a mature threat modeling approach:

  1. Empower your security and development teams to identify high-level threats or areas where data could be exposed early on in the development phase—before they become a bigger problem.
  2. Enforce enterprise-wide security standards by actively disseminating and promoting the use of secure code.
  3. Focus penetration testing on the most critical entry points in applications.
  4. Easily create reports and checklists that ensure proper security controls are both in place and meet objectives for compliance.
  5. Classify application threats by risk level and generate a prediction of the technical and business impact a successful attack could have.

What Challenges Come Along with Threat Modeling?

The biggest challenge people face when they begin threat modeling is understanding why they need to do it.

Because traditional threat modeling methodologies are relatively resource-intensive and time-consuming, companies often limit their scope to a single, isolated application. Although fewer threat models may seem less daunting, companies who limit themselves to just 4 or 5 threat models cannot develop a comprehensive understanding of their attack surface, which is the ultimate reason that the security team and CISO should invest in threat modeling in the first place.

Under tight deadlines, threat modeling can be used to identify threats as applications are being created to produce a secure product, but a process with such a limited scope fails to provide the CISO with valuable information about the organization’s overall threat level or effectiveness of current security initiatives.

Reducing the attack surface should always be the goal, and threat modeling for a single application does not provide a big-picture view of security or enable the CISO to justify new budget requests or prioritize activities.

New threats and attack surfaces are constantly introduced, and threat modeling is the best way for organizations to be prepared to defend against them. Traditional processes, however, are too slow and resource-intensive to be used effectively in today’s fast-paced agile IT and DevOps environments.

ThreatModeler™ is the industry’s first automated, consistent, collaborative, and scalable threat modeling software. As the most advanced threat modeling solution, ThreatModeler™ was built and refined in conjunction with the specific needs and requests of industry specialists to help businesses protect against harmful and costly data breaches by scaling their threat identification and defense systems. ThreatModeler is trusted by a growing number of Fortune 1000 CISOs and security executives.

Learn how threat modeling can scale your company’s security and identify security threats early on in the software development life cycle (SDLC). Complete the form to schedule a free 10-day evaluation with one of our threat modeling experts today.

[1] Violino, Bob. “Ransomware, Email Scams Causing Cyber Threats to Soar.” Health Data Management. SourceMedia LLC: New York. March 9, 2017.