What is the Right Level of Security for Your Device and How Can Threat Modeling Help You Achieve It?

To design-in security, it is recommended that developers and manufacturers analyze the operating environment to determine how each device could be attacked and then document it.

This process of understanding and documenting security requirements is known as Threat Modeling and Security Analysis (TMSA).

But how can performing Threat Modeling and Security Analysis help you secure your device against cyber security attacks?

  1.  It can help you analyze your device and understand:
  2.  How robust does your security need to be?
  3. What preventive measures should you take to avoid security issues?
  4. What potential threats could impact your device?

A Threat Modeling and Security Analysis (TMSA) highlights critical issues and challenges that you should consider while implementing security to protect your product or device.

It prompts you to consider critical questions such as:

What are the potential threats to your device?

  1. How severe are those threats?
  2. Is your device in compliance with security standards?
  3. What are the potential vulnerabilities that could put your device at risk of a security breach?
  4. What countermeasures could you implement to protect your device?

Steps to Perform Threat Modeling

Here is a step-by-step process that will help you understand how you can perform a Threat Modeling and Security Analysis to determine your security requirements.

Step 1: Identify the Use Case, Assets to Protect, and External Entities

  1. Log-in credentials
  2. Network communication
  3. Firmware
  4. Event logs
  5. Certificates and unique keys
  6. System configurations (to secure your IP address)
  7. Device resources (such as speakers, microphone array, battery, storage, debug interface, network bandwidth, and computing power)

Step 2: Identify Trust Zones, Potential Adversaries, and Threats

Network attacker: This type of attacker may conduct network attacks such as man-in-the-middle attacks, where the attacker intercepts communication between two parties.

Malicious insider attacker: These attackers may be your employees, a third-party vendor, or any individual who has access to your device or network.

Remote software attacker: Most attackers fall into this category and try to breach security software by introducing malicious scripts/code or a virus to steal data or gain control of the device/network.

Step 3: Determine High-Level Security Objectives to Address Potential Threats

In this step of how to perform threat modeling, you have to establish security objectives that focus on maintaining the following security elements:

  1. Confidentiality
  2. Availability
  3. Integrity
  4. Secure Development Lifecycle
  5. Authenticity
  6. Non-Repudiation

Step 4: Define Security Requirements for Each Security Objective Clearly

Since each threat poses a different risk to high-level security objectives, you need to analyze and create specific, actionable security requirements that will directly address those threats.

For instance, to secure identities, you should:

  1. Maintain roles, trusted communication channels, and authorization
  2. Implement least privilege user access
  3. Set failure threshold limits
  4. Secure remote management

Step 5: Create a Document to Store All Relevant Information

Once you have gathered all the requisite information needed to set security requirements for your system, create a threat modeling document that stores this information accurately.