With the increase in advanced persistent threats (APTs), defenders are constantly trying to safeguard an organization’s information systems by tailoring their defense mechanisms to preempt future attacks. As a result, organizations are recognizing the value of cyber threat intelligence and are planning to increase threat intelligence spending in upcoming quarters.
In cybersecurity, no prediction is perfect, but if we have the correct threat modeling protocols in place, then it provides a context to the gathered intelligence and helps analysts to identify, classify, and prioritize threats.
What Is the OCTAVE Threat Model?
OCTAVE is a threat modeling framework to assess and manage risks in an organization in the event of a data breach. It follows a comprehensive assessment methodology that allows an organization to identify the assets that are important and the threats and vulnerabilities in those assets. What information is at risk can be determined by putting the information on assets, threats, and vulnerabilities together. This helps the organization to design and implement a defense strategy to minimize the overall risk exposure of its information assets.
OCTAVE Threat Model Background
OCTAVE was developed in 2001 at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Software Engineering Institute (SEI) in collaboration with CERT for the U.S. Department of Defense. It’s useful for creating a risk-aware corporate culture and is highly customizable as per the organization’s specific security objectives and risk environment. There are 2 versions of OCTAVE:
- OCTAVE-S, a simplified methodology for smaller organizations that have flat hierarchical structures, and
- OCTAVE Allegro, a more comprehensive version for large organizations or those with multilevel structures.
Importance of OCTAVE Threat Model
OCTAVE is a flexible and self-operated risk assessment method. People from the business units and the IT department work together to address the security needs of the organization. The team defines the current state of security, identify risks to critical assets, and create a security strategy. Unlike other risk assessment methodologies, the OCTAVE model is driven by operational risk and security practices — not technology. The purpose of the OCTAVE model is to allow organizations to:
- Assess and manage information security risks.
- Take decisions based on the risks.
- Protect key information assets.
- Effectively communicate security information.
How to Implement the OCTAVE Threat Model
Phases of the OCTAVE Threat Model
OCTAVE threat modeling is implemented in three phases:
- Build an asset-based threat profile
In this phase, the team determines what IT assets are important to the organization and how they are safeguarded. Next comes selecting those assets that are critical and highly important to the organization and establishing security requirements for each asset. Last is identifying threats to each asset, creating a threat profile based on that.
- Identify infrastructure vulnerabilities
In this phase, the analysis team identify important infrastructure vulnerabilities and develop policies and practices to address these vulnerabilities. This is done by:
- Examining the organization’s information infrastructure configuration, data flows, and network access paths.
- Performing infrastructure vulnerability assessments by selecting and analyzing intrusion scenarios.
- Develop security strategies and plans
During this phase, the team of analysts identify and prioritize the risks based on how critical the asset is for the organization. This is achieved by determining vulnerable points in potential intrusion scenarios and examining assets exposed by these vulnerabilities. Finally, the team creates a protection strategy for the organization and defines mitigation plans to address the risks to the critical assets, based upon on the analysis of the intelligence gathered.
Following the above process and methodology, your organization will attain a comprehensive security risk management plan to be used on a regular basis. To learn more about OCTAVE Threat Modeling, enroll in EC-Council’s Certified Threat Intelligence Analyst (CTIA) program. It’s been designed and developed in collaboration with cybersecurity and threat intelligence experts across the globe. Armed with our threat intelligence training, organizations will be able to hire qualified cyber intelligence professionals to identify and mitigate business risks. The course also empowers security professionals with the latest tools and techniques to predict future attacks.