Why Threat Modeling Is Essential for Business Survival
Since the early days of modern computing, concerns about software security have been prominent. As a security activity, threat modelling has played a vital role in analysing meaningful threats and recommending appropriate mitigations. However, the landscape of threat modelling has undergone significant changes over time. This article explores the evolution of threat modelling, the rise of cross-functional teams, increased automation, the importance of diversifying security perspectives, the growing knowledge base, and the critical business capability that threat modelling has become. By adapting to these changes, organisations can effectively manage operational risk and ensure the secure and timely delivery of value.
The Evolutionary Journey of Threat Modelling
In the early days, threat modelling focused on identifying threats to systems where threat actors were known, and there was a complete understanding of the system itself. At that time, monolithic applications were delivered over longer development cycles. However, in today's dynamic environment, threat actors are not always immediately apparent, software systems have become more complex, and delivery cycles have shortened. Consequently, threat modelling has had to adapt and evolve to produce timely threat analysis with increased frequency while accommodating continuous delivery practices.
Embracing Cross-Functionality for Enhanced Security
To keep up with the changing demands of threat modelling, it has transformed into a cross-functional activity. In the past, siloed development, operations, and security teams worked independently. However, the shift towards cross-functional teams with shared knowledge bases has become essential. By integrating threat modelling with DevOps workflows, organisations can ensure that security is an integral part of the software delivery process.
This integration is facilitated by the introduction of security champions who bridge the gap between threat modelling and development operations. Furthermore, breaking down threat modelling into discrete scope elements allows for incremental mitigation efforts, ensuring that security remains a continuous consideration.
Advancing Automation for Efficient Threat Modelling
Automation plays a crucial role in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of threat modelling. While fully automated threat modelling is still a work in progress, efforts are being made to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and reduce human intervention. The goal is to rapidly translate threat modelling recommendations into actionable stories that developers can execute against.
By creating a map between vulnerability mitigations and software code, including configuration files and other "as code" artefacts, organisations can trigger tests to verify the requirements and corresponding mitigations. This approach enables consistent and measurable execution, providing a clear view of open mitigations and benchmarking the security posture against predefined thresholds.
The Crucial Role of Threat Modelling in Business Operations
Threat modelling has become a critical business capability recognised by business leaders as a means to identify security risk areas. The ability to mitigate these risks is imperative at the board level. Beyond risk identification, threat modelling provides organisations with a roadmap for addressing and mitigating threats, enabling cost/benefit analysis.
By having timely access to threat modelling insights, business stakeholders can make informed decisions that balance operational risk and value delivery. This integration of threat modelling into business operations helps organisations manage risks effectively without compromising speed and agility.
As software systems continue to grow in complexity and the demand for rapid delivery persists, threat modelling must adapt and evolve. The evolution of threat modelling includes embracing cross-functional collaboration, leveraging automation, cultivating a knowledge base, and recognising its critical role in business operations. By incorporating these advancements, organisations can proactively identify and address security risks, ensuring software products and services’ secure and timely delivery.
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