How To Implement Threat Modeling To Protect Your Business

How to prioritise cybersecurity, invest in robust defences and foster a culture of security.

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How to prioritise cybersecurity, invest in robust defences and foster a culture of security.


How To Implement Threat Modeling To Protect Your Business

How to prioritise cybersecurity, invest in robust defences and foster a culture of security.

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The threat landscape facing businesses is constantly evolving, characterised by increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks ranging from ransomware and phishing to data breaches and insider threats.

According to Crowdstrike’s 2024 Global Threat Report, the volume of intrusion activity against the financial services industry alone increased by over 80% last year, and other sectors, including healthcare, are also experiencing more threats.

These attacks are not only more frequent but also more potent, capable of causing significant financial losses, operational disruptions, and reputational damage to businesses.

As technology advances, so does the threat of cyber attacks, making it all the more important for businesses to prioritise safeguarding their data. Today, cybersecurity is not just a choice but a fundamental requirement for survival and success in the digital world.

Below are four top tips on how businesses can go about implementing robust cybersecurity measures.

  1. Get to know your hackers

Every endpoint, application, and piece of data within an organisation represents a potential entry point for malicious actors. This means it is vital for businesses to adopt a proactive and comprehensive approach to cybersecurity.

According to a recent report by Microsoft, advanced and more proficient technology like AI means that almost nine in ten companies are at risk of cyberattacks.

As a result, it is more important than ever to understand the threats so that secure software can be effectively designed. A great starting point is the OWASP Top 10, a globally recognised standard document by developers as the first step towards more secure coding. OWASP aims to identify the most critical security risks to web applications.

Top of the list is broken access control, and insecure design itself sits at number four. Therefore - in software development - understanding the biggest risks is the first step towards mitigating them. This is where secure-by-design and threat modeling comes in.

  1. Build secure-design in from the start

Indeed, the onus is on developers to defend cyberspace by creating software that is secure-by-design. To do this, it is important to identify vulnerabilities in the code and assess and mitigate the risks before beginning to build the software.

Unfortunately, the reality is that developers are incentivised to get software to market as quickly as possible, and worry about security later.

However, trying to fix flaws after software has been built is tricky, time consuming and expensive. So this issue must be tackled from the very beginning, before a single line of code is written.

To do this, we need to deploy a process called threat modeling.

Threat modeling involves analysing software for potential risks and determining the most effective ways to mitigate them. It  is fundamental to secure design - in its simplest form, this is about looking at software design and asking Adam Shostack’s four questions:

  1. What are we working on?
  2. What can go wrong?
  3. What are we going to do about it?
  4. Did we do a good enough job?

Embedding threat modeling at the design stage of software development should be the minimum standard for security. It is the best way to mitigate and identify vulnerabilities when developing software.

  1. Put trust in automation

In the past, threat modeling was done on a whiteboard as a collaboration between cybersecurity teams and developers. However, this manual process of identifying vulnerabilities is becoming increasingly impractical. This is where automated threat modeling can make things easier. Developers now use automation to generate a threat model containing relevant threats and countermeasures for them.

Additionally, leveraging automation to streamline and standardise threat modeling minimises human error – a leading factor in exposing many businesses to attacks. It also saves time reducing the effort it takes for security teams so they do not have to start from scratch with every new piece of software.

As a result, businesses must review and update their models regularly, particularly when significant changes are made to the system, to ensure continuous security in their software with the advent of new technology.

  1. Join a community

Experts in cybersecurity and threat modeling - as well as developers - are coming together to try to solve some of the key challenges businesses face. There are plenty of communities out there grappling with the same challenges. One such example is Threat Modeling Connect, where people use the forum to share ideas and discuss issues, and also host webinars or write blogs.

Furthermore, collaboration and information sharing within the cybersecurity community are critical for staying ahead of evolving threats. By participating in industry forums, sharing threat intelligence, and collaborating with peers and cybersecurity experts, businesses can leverage collective knowledge and resources to enhance their security.

Cybersecurity must be integrated into the fabric of business strategy rather than treated as an afterthought. Organisations need to adopt a proactive, risk-based approach to cybersecurity that aligns with their overall business objectives. So, businesses need to be on the front foot and test the security of their software from the outset - not as the last stage in development.

In today's digital age, threat modeling is no longer simply good cybersecurity practice - rather, it is a security imperative for businesses. The consequences of neglecting secure design are too severe to ignore - from financial losses and legal repercussions to irreparable damage to brand reputation.

By prioritising cybersecurity as a strategic priority, investing in robust defences, and fostering a culture of security, businesses can navigate the complex threat landscape with confidence and resilience. In doing so, businesses can not only protect their assets and data but also seize opportunities for innovation and growth.

Cristina Bentue is Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, IriusRisk.

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How To Implement Threat Modeling To Protect Your Business

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