A Guide to Threat Modelling for Business

published Oct 30, 2019
3 min read

Cyber Security

Threat modelling is all about staying ahead of the curve. Application and cyber security are vital for businesses, and threat modelling helps IT teams to identify potential problems and vulnerabilities at the earliest possible stage.

This means that they can build new applications and systems with security in mind. This not only reducing the potential risk of a security breach, but also saving time and revenue for the business.

This proactive approach to security helps businesses to stay ahead of any potential problems and cyberattacks. Here is an in-depth look at what a threat model is, how it works and why it is such an important and effective solution for businesses looking to stay ahead of their security efforts.

What Is a Threat Model?

When designing a new application or software, IT professionals certainly have their work cut out. As well as having the know-how and skills to actually put it together, they will face a number of security issues during the different stages of development.

With data protection and security now a hugely important issue for businesses, threat modelling has become an important way to develop applications and software with security built in.

A threat model is a proactive way to assess all these potential risks that a piece of software is vulnerable to. This means they can reduce the possibility of a security issue or cyber attack. It is important to start developing this threat model right at the beginning of the process to identify, document and mitigate any problems that could arise.

Why Businesses Should Choose Threat Modelling?

There are a number of reasons why businesses should consider threat modelling whenever they create a new application or software. It’s easy to get caught up in an idea or a moment, but an effective security strategy requires organisation and planning at every stage – no matter how big or small. Below are some of the key reasons why businesses and their IT teams need to use threat modelling:

  • To ensure that the whole team is on the same page
  • To bridge the gap between the security team and the developers
  • To find security risks as early as possible and still have plenty of time to fix them
  • To create a safe and secure new application or software
  • To save time, money and uphold the company’s reputation
  • To provide a document of all the risks and vulnerabilities detected
  • To get a better understanding of the latest risks and how to fix them

How Do You Conduct a Threat Model Review?

One of the most important parts of threat modelling is being able to look past the initial starting idea and think way into the future. It requires that the team ask themselves a number of questions about their new application, mainly what can go wrong and how can they stop this from happening? It can be helpful at this stage to create a team from different departments to ensure that every base is covered.

This means a team of developers, security professionals, administrators and potentially even customers to help you review the idea. This way you get a comprehensive overview of the new system or application and you can better predict potential risks.

So when the time comes to begin the threat model review, there are several questions to ask yourself that will help you to conduct the review and put together the appropriate documents. These are outlined below:

1. What Are We Building?

In order to put an effective threat model in place you need to understand what it is you’re building. By breaking it down into smaller parts you can comprehensively work through each component and analyse the risks it may possess. To do this ask yourself what kind of application it is and who it will serve.

2. What Can Go Wrong?

Once you’ve got a list of each aspect of your application, you can begin to assess what could go wrong. At this stage there are other questions you can ask, for example how could a hacker steal someone’s account from this application and what would happen if they did? Go through all the ‘what ifs’ and make a note of all potential threats.

3. What Are We Doing about That?

Now you know what could go wrong, you need to make sure you’re putting measures in place to stop this happening, or at least reduce the risk. For each potential threat work out how you can mitigate this. If there are several ways you can fix the problem, then you need to assess these and make sure you’re choosing the most time and cost-effective solution.

4. Have We Planned for the Future?

It doesn’t simply stop with fixing the problem. Technology is always evolving, and you need to ensure you’ve got plans in place to be able to update your software and keep up with these changes. So, it’s good to ask yourself if your fixes are future-proof and how you can make sure that they are.

5. Did We Do a Good Enough Job?

A threat model isn’t completed overnight. Once you’ve got the initial model in place it’s a good idea to revisit this at least once, if not a couple more times. You might find that there is more you can do to make your threat model even better; you might also learn of new security threats you need to address or new variants you need to take into consideration. Because of this it’s always best to revisit and review your model.

Is Your Business Ready to Start Threat Modelling?

As you can see there are a number of benefits for threat modelling.  As they say, prevention is better than cure, so it’s always good to stay one step ahead of the game. Get on top of your security efforts by analysing potential risks and putting plans in place to mitigate these as early as possible. This will help your business to keep its data safe and secure, save time and money, and build a strong reputation.