The importance of threat modeling
Today, every exploit, every unpatched vulnerability, and any weakness in your access and permissions can lead to a breach.
Threat modeling is an increasingly common way for enterprises to understand vulnerabilities and adopt the necessary security solutions and processes to defend against them. The premise is simple: avoiding mistakes is more secure, faster, and less expensive than fixing them.
By analyzing your organization’s digital environment, threat modeling will help identify and anticipate potential threats, weaknesses, and security flaws across your data, services, applications, facilities, infrastructure, networks, and clouds.
And, when performed on a continuous basis, threat modeling can keep your business protected from new and evolving threats, while taking into account your existing security strategy and vulnerabilities.
There are a number of threat modeling methodologies available for your business; however, the framework you choose needs to fit into your overall security strategy from the start to have maximum impact.
Integrating threat modeling into your security strategy
All companies, of any size, need a proactive security strategy and a comprehensive understanding of their digital environment to prepare and respond to potential security threats.
Threat modeling is, by definition, proactive. One wouldn’t build a house, then call people to test its security, only to be told that locks are needed on doors and windows. In the same regard, threat modeling ensures risk mitigation is employed as early as possible in the production, design, and implementation of software, applications, and processes. This eliminates potential attack vectors and significantly reduces vulnerabilities, improving software security.
This proactive approach can be carried over to the overall development of a security strategy, where threat modeling can help to establish key business and operational goals. These include assessing the business’ IT footprint and helping define the policies that will protect it – even as the boundaries where data crosses expand with the implementation of new applications.
Strong security policies informed by threat modelling can protect the business when it comes to GDPR, CCPA, and other regulations that require the protection of customer, financial, or other sensitive data.
Reducing the impact of data loss, theft, denial of services, ransomware attacks, and compliance issues puts businesses on a better operational footing. Again, this approach is proactive; by mitigating the current threats now, companies will be better placed to meet future security challenges and risks.
And, as the business grows, evolves, or acquires new assets, threat modelling can help security teams integrate new services and software, retire legacy systems, and deploy the appropriate level of security for each new asset, reducing the risks of breaches through forgotten access points.
Using threat modeling to assess your business operations
Threat modeling can fit alongside any business plan or strategy. The Process for Attack Simulation and Threat Analysis (PASTA) methodology, for example, enables your teams to identify, list, and create a priority order for dealing with any threats, based on their current or future business operations.
How documents or files move through a workflow or across systems is one example. In cases like this, threat modeling can identify weak points (including people) in the process where that data might be attacked, or where a system could become vulnerable in particular use cases.
With a good understanding of the threats, your security teams can acquire the appropriate solutions to protect their business, including next-generation firewalls, cloud security posture management (CSPM), and password management or user authentication tools.
Even with technical solutions in place, however, you still need to train your employees on the importance of security best practices like strong passwords, and how to identify phishing emails and malware. After all, 95% of hacks are attributed to human error.
Documenting threats, weaknesses, and security measures in one place through threat modeling can improve your employees’ awareness of cybersecurity risks, helping your business as a whole improve its understanding of security.
Informing and future-proofing your security strategy
The success of an organization’s security strategy is underpinned by the tools, services, technologies, and processes in place to enact it. Whatever the size of your business, it is crucial to ensure these tools are appropriate to its specific needs and requirements. The bottom line is that solutions should not be acquired without an underlying understanding of why they are necessary and how they fit into your company’s security posture.
By integrating a threat modeling framework into your existing security strategy, your business can take a proactive approach, not a reactive approach. Potential threats and risks can be identified and anticipated; the necessary tools and services to circumvent these threats can be adopted; and information can be provided to alert and inform employees to your organization’s specific weaknesses.
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