Threat Modeling

Threat modeling is a structured approach of identifying and prioritizing potential threats to a system, and determining the value that potential mitigations would have in reducing or neutralizing those threats. This cheat sheet aims to provide guidance on how to create threat models for both existing systems or applications as well as new systems.

You do not need to be a security expert in order to implement the techniques covered in this cheat sheet. All developers, software and system designers, and architects should strive to include threat modeling in their software development life cycle. Optimally, you will create your threat models and determine which mitigations are needed during an early stage of the development of a new system, application, or feature. Assessing potential threats during the design phase of your project can save significant resources that might be needed to refactor the project to include risk mitigations during a later phase of the project.

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When you produce a threat model, you will:

· Document how data flows through a system to identify where the system might be attacked.

· Document as many potential threats to the system as possible.

· Document security controls that may be put in place to reduce the likelihood or impact of a potential threat.

Note that throughout the document, the terms “systems” and “applications” are used interchangeably. The principles in the document apply equally to designing and building systems such as network infrastructures or server clusters as they do to designing or developing desktop, mobile, or web applications.