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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Need for Continuous and Dynamic Threat Modeling

Well done post from Cisco, with useful explanatory visuals. Strongly agree. Using and applying specific risk models.

By Sujata Ramamoorthy

This blog is co-authored by Mohammad Iqbal and is part four of a four-part series about DevSecOps.

The trend towards accelerated application development, and regular updates to an architecture through an agile methodology, reduces the efficacy and effectiveness of point-in-time threat modeling. This recognition led us to explore and strategize ways to continuously, and dynamically, threat model an application architecture during runtime.

Today, thanks to a robust DevOps environment, developers can deploy a complex architecture within a public cloud such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Google Cloud Platform without requiring support from a network or database administrator. A single developer can develop code, deploy an infrastructure through code into a public cloud, construct security groups through code, and deploy an application on the resulting environment all through a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline. While this enables deployment velocity, it also eliminates multiple checks and balances. At Cisco, we recognized the risks introduced by such practices and decided to explore strategies to continuously evaluate how an architecture evolves in production runtime to guard against architecture drift.

Dynamic threat modeling must begin with a solid baseline threat model that is done in real-time. This can in turn be monitored for architecture drift. Our approach to obtain such a real-time view is to use dynamic techniques to allow security and ops teams to threat model live environments instead of diagraming on paper or whiteboards alone.

How Does Dynamic Threat Modeling Work?
Threat modeling is the practice of identifying data flows through systems and various constructs within an architecture that exhibit a security gap or vulnerabilities. A crucial element that enables the practice of threat modeling is generating the right kind of visual representation of a given architecture in an accurate manner. This approach can differ based on context and from one team to another.  At Cisco, we instead focused on elements and features that need to exist to allow a team to dynamically perform a threat modeling exercise. These elements include the ability:  .... " 

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