When developing or upgrading a system, ensuring its security and adopting a proactive approach towards vulnerabilities is crucial. To achieve this, Threat Modeling methodologies are employed to identify and analyze potential threats that could harm the system, network, or organization. A threat modeling methodology focuses on examining the system from an attacker’s perspective, allowing security professionals to thoroughly research endpoints that are vulnerable and assess the quality of the system’s architecture, business context, code, design, and configuration decisions.
In essence, threat modeling methodologies play a critical role in identifying and analyzing vulnerabilities that could compromise the privacy or information security of a system. This blog aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of different threat modeling methodologies, highlighting the key differences between them.
Types of Threat Modeling Methodology
With numerous threat modeling methodologies available, it is important for organizations to carefully evaluate and select the threat modeling methodology that best suits their needs. A well-designed methodology can provide valuable insights into the strength of a system’s architecture against potential threats. However, it’s important to note that what works for one organization may not necessarily work for another.
Here are some of the top types of threat modeling methodologies and techniques:
STRIDE is a well-established threat modeling methodology created by Microsoft and has evolved over time to become one of the most effective methodologies available. This technique efficiently identifies system boundaries, events, and entities by applying them to data flow diagrams (DFDs). The STRIDE acronym stands for Spoofing identity, Tampering with data, Repudiation, Information disclosure, Denial of service, and Elevation of privilege, representing a comprehensive list of major threat classes that a system may face.
To summarise, STRIDE is like a checklist that lists the major class of threats that a system could face
|Threat||Property Violated||Threat Definition|
|Spoofing||Authentication||The attacker pretends to be someone else with malicious intent.|
|Tampering||Integrity||The threat modifies codes or important data in a system or network|
|Repudiation||Non-Repudiation||Happens when adequate controls are not in place to track and log users’ activity.|
|Information Disclosure||Confidentiality||Threat of Disclosure of sensitive or private data to a person who is not authorized to access it|
|Denial of Service||Availability||The threat attacks by denying access to an authorized person|
|Elevation of Privilege||Authorization||Granting access without valid authorization|
Read more about STRIDE Threat Modeling Methodology with Examples
The Process for Attack Simulation and Threat Analysis (PASTA) is a risk-focused 7-step threat modeling methodology. Since PASTA focuses more on the threats with the highest risk, it helps direct more time and resources toward vulnerabilities that matter and gives less regard to threats with little impact. In fact, PASTA also gives more importance to business context than other threat modeling methodologies like STRIDE.
The seven stages of PASTA:
- Identify assets and define the application’s architecture.
- Define the application’s threat environment.
- Decompose the application functionally and detail how attackers might exploit weaknesses.
- Identify important attack scenarios.
- Conduct a structured analysis of the identified attack scenarios, applying the STRIDE threat analysis framework.
- Identify possible threat agents.
- Prioritize and mitigate the identified threats.
DREAD is a threat modeling methodology developed by Microsoft that stands for Damage potential, Reproducibility, Exploitability, Affected users, and Discoverability. This methodology serves as a framework to help users identify threats and assess the level of risk associated with each of them. The DREAD methodology can be used to prioritize the most critical threats and determine the appropriate mitigation strategies for each.
How to perform DREAD analysis:
- Identify possible threats.
- Rate each threat using a scale of 1 to 10, for each of the five DREAD components.
- Calculate the total DREAD score to identify the most critical threats.
- Determine the mitigation strategies for each of the critical threats.
Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS)
Common Vulnerability Scoring System is a well-standardized threat modeling technique developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This methodology helps to identify, assess and measure the impacts of known vulnerabilities and identify existing countermeasures. Also, CVSS helps security professionals to make use of threat intelligence in a reliable and efficient way. In fact, This threat modeling methodology works by demanding to classify each vulnerability on a severity scale of 10.
This is one of the oldest and most popular techniques for threat modeling by picturing threats’ goals and their various routes in conceptual diagrams. In fact, Attack trees can be compared to a pictorial representation of potential attacks through a tree-like diagram in which the root of the tree is the goal for the attack and leaves are the methods or routes to attacks. Thus, the attack tree model provides a set of attack trees of which each attack tree has a separate attack goal. However, the attack tree threat model was initially applied as a stand-alone method, but now users also combine it with other methods and frameworks like STRIDE, PASTA, and CVSS.
Trike is a security audit process, framework, or methodology that also has a risk-based approach to the model for threat. It has a risk score attached for each asset by also ensuring that the assigned level of risk is acceptable to stakeholders. The risk values are given on a five-point probability scale. And employs a step matrix with rows representing actors and columns representing assets. This gives a four-part matrix that includes – create, read, update, and delete. The trike is a unique technique among threat modeling methodology that works through risk management and defense perspective.
Also read, Threat Modeling vs Penetration Testing
Hybrid Threat Modeling Method (hTMM)
hTMM is a threat modeling methodology that combines several different techniques and methodologies to identify potential security threats. hTMM also takes into account the specific context of the system or application being analyzed, such as organizational culture, processes, and feedback loops. This personalized approach helps to identify threats and vulnerabilities that are unique to an organization or system.
Security Cards are a simple and intuitive threat modeling methodology that involves a deck of cards containing common security threats and countermeasures. The cards are shuffled and randomly dealt to participants, who then identify new risks and mitigation strategies based on the combination of cards they receive. This method is useful in promoting team collaboration and identifying potential security risks.
Operationally Critical Threat, Asset, and Vulnerability Evaluation (OCTAVE)
OCTAVE is a structured threat modeling methodology that uses a risk-based approach for identifying and managing potential security risks. OCTAVE is centered around the identification of assets, such as data, applications, and infrastructure, and the vulnerabilities associated with those assets. OCTAVE also includes the identification of potential threats and the development of mitigation strategies.
Quantitative Threat Modeling Method
The Quantitative Threat Modeling Method is a risk-based approach to threat modeling that uses quantitative data to identify potential security threats. This method involves gathering data on the assets, risks, threats, and vulnerabilities associated with a system or application. This information is then analyzed, and a quantitative risk score is assigned to each potential threat. The Quantitative Threat Modeling Method helps to prioritize potential threats based on their risk level and allocate resources accordingly.
Conclusion About Threat Modeling Methodologies
In Summary, threat modeling methodologies help to create an abstract of the system and give reports of potential attackers – their methods and goals. Moreover, it provides insights into potential vulnerabilities and threats that can arise in the future. STRIDE, PASTA, CVSS, Trike, and Attack Trees are some of the best methodologies used, which have unique methods and frameworks to identify, analyze, measure, and sort threats.
Also read, Best Threat Modeling Tools List in 2023