Building secure applications is one significant aspect of ensuring your business’ cyber security and protecting your team and customers. The challenge in securing applications lies not just in tackling existing threats but in preempting future ones. Traditional security practices address issues reactively, tacked onto applications after they’ve been developed and released. Too many businesses still follow this process, leading to costly remediation and inefficiencies with applications vulnerable to malicious actors.
The solution? Embedding application security within the software development lifecycle (SDLC) through a proactive, systematic approach that includes threat modelling.
What is threat modelling?
Threat modelling is a systematic approach to identifying, managing, and mitigating potential threats in your applications. It involves understanding a system’s structure, identifying potential threats, and developing strategies to counter these. Using this method, an application’s vulnerabilities can be identified and addressed before threat actors exploit them.
In software development, threat modelling identifies potential vulnerabilities in the early stages of application design, allowing developers to incorporate security measures into the application from the outset. It directs the focus towards areas that require immediate attention and resources, promoting a cost-effective and efficient application security strategy.
How does threat modelling support the software development lifecycle?
Threat modelling plays an integral role right from the beginning of the software development process. It starts with the initial design stage, where developers start crafting the architecture of an application. This phase involves examining all potential interaction points within the system and recognising possible vulnerabilities. Developers can minimise potential risks when applying threat modelling early in the SDLC, saving valuable time and resources that may be spent on damage control later.
By identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities early in the process, developers can protect higher-risk areas, incorporate stronger authentication mechanisms, or improve validation methods. Essentially, threat modelling guides developers in designing and building resilient software.
It’s important to note that threat modelling is not a one-off task; it remains relevant throughout the SDLC. The threat landscape may change as the software evolves with new features and modifications added. So, it is critical to re-evaluate the system continually. By doing so, developers can maintain an accurate and current understanding of potential threats, ensuring the software’s security remains robust and resilient against evolving cyber threats.
What threats can this uncover?
Threat modelling reveals some common threats and vulnerabilities. These may include SQL injection, where an attacker can manipulate backend databases through user inputs, or Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, where an attacker overwhelms a system’s resources, rendering it unavailable to its intended users. Additionally, weaknesses such as inadequate encryption, authentication bypass, or insecure interfaces and APIs might appear. By pinpointing these vulnerabilities ahead of time, threat modelling empowers developers to address these issues early on, strengthening the application’s security.
To get an idea of how this works, let’s take a hypothetical example of a financial institution developing a new mobile banking app and using threat modelling to ensure it remains secure. During this process, the company might discover a potential vulnerability where an attacker could exploit an API to access user account information. Because of this insight, they can modify its design to secure the API, preventing a potentially catastrophic data breach and protecting customers’ sensitive information.
What are the benefits of threat modelling?
Similar to vulnerability prioritisation, threat modelling provides an evidence-based approach to channel resources towards the initiatives that warrant it the most. As a result, your organisation can focus on areas of highest risk, ensuring that measures taken yield the maximum impact. For instance, if threat modelling identifies a high risk of SQL injection attacks, developers might prioritise protective measures such as input validation or updated firewall configurations.
Threat modelling serves as a compass for directing cyber security investments. It informs the bigger picture of cybersecurity investment, acting as a compass in an often complex landscape. It can help your organisation identify the most significant vulnerabilities, so you can make informed decisions about where to channel your cybersecurity budget. Instead of spreading resources thinly across all potential threats, your organisation can concentrate its efforts and funds on addressing the most significant and likely threats.
In the SDLC, threat modelling is vital for identifying vulnerabilities, shaping secure system design, and guiding cyber security investments. It enables early detection and mitigation of potential threats, fostering the development of robust, secure systems. Threat modelling offers enhanced security and significant cost savings, as dealing with vulnerabilities early in the development process is considerably less costly than post-breach damage control.
For software developers and organisations, threat modelling can significantly bolster cyber security. We encourage all stakeholders to prioritise threat modelling in their operations and the software development process.
Why choose Galah Cyber as your partner in threat modelling?
Our AppSec Advisory services aim to bring security, reliability, and compliance to your software applications and related infrastructure.
Our tailored solutions empower businesses of all sizes to proactively combat cyber threats. We specialise in Cyber Risk Assessment and Threat Modelling, integral services to proactively identify and manage cyber threats. Our team can help you detect vulnerabilities, deliver expert recommendations for risk mitigation, and guide you in prioritising your cyber security investments.
Visit our Advisory Services page for more information and to get started.