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Keywords:

  • software security;
  • unified threat model;
  • attack path;
  • software threat analysis;
  • software threat evaluation

ABSTRACT

Design-level vulnerabilities are a major source of security problems in software programs. For the purpose of improving the trustworthiness of software designs, this paper presents a unified threat model for representing, analyzing, and evaluating software threats at various design stages. Unified threat models represent software threats via tree structures with AND/OR logical relationships and evaluates software threats in a cost-effective way based on attack paths. Mitigation measures for software threats are designed and prioritized based on the evaluation results, which make it possible to design high-quality software security programs that resist identified software threats. A case study for an online banking system is given to systematically demonstrate the application of unified threat models in software threat analysis and evaluation. The results from the case study demonstrate that the unified threat model is superior to traditional threat trees in accurately evaluating results, designing mitigation measures, and guiding software security testing. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.