Category: Threat Modeling

Addressing cybersecurity for а complex system, especially for а cyber-physical system of systems (CPSoS), requires a strategic approach during the entire lifecycle of the system. Examples of CPSoS include rail transport systems, power plants, and integrated air-defense capability. All these systems consist of large physical, cyber-physical, and cyber-only subsystems with complex dynamics. In the first blog post in this series, I summarized 12 available threat-modeling methods (TMMs). In this post, I will identify criteria for choosing and evaluating a threat-modeling method (TMM) for a CPSoS.

Almost all software systems today face a variety of threats, and the number of threats grows as technology changes. Malware that exploits software vulnerabilities grew 151 percent in the second quarter of 2018, and cyber-crime damage costs are estimated to reach $6 trillion annually by 2021. Threats can come from outside or within organizations, and they can have devastating consequences. Attacks can disable systems entirely or lead to the leaking of sensitive information, which would diminish consumer trust in the system provider. To prevent threats from taking advantage of system flaws, administrators can use threat-modeling methods to inform defensive measures. In this blog post, I summarize 12 available threat-modeling methods.

This post was co-authored by Nancy Mead.

Cyber threat modeling, the creation of an abstraction of a system to identify possible threats, is a required activity for DoD acquisition. Identifying potential threats to a system, cyber or otherwise, is increasingly important in today's environment. The number of information security incidents reported by federal agencies to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has increased by 1,121 percent from 5,503 in fiscal year 2006 to 67,168 in fiscal year 2014, according to a 2015 Government Accountability Office report. Yet, our experience has been that it is often conducted informally with few standards. Consequently, important threat scenarios are often overlooked.

Given the dynamic cyber threat environment in which DoD systems operate, we have embarked on research work aimed at making cyber threat modeling more rigorous, routine, and automated. This blog post evaluates three popular methods of cyber threat modeling and discusses how this evaluation will help develop a model that fuses the best qualities of each.