The Battle for New York: A Case Study of Applied Digital Threat Modeling at the Enterprise Level

Authors: 

Rock Stevens, Daniel Votipka, and Elissa M. Redmiles, University of Maryland; Colin Ahern, NYC Cyber Command; Patrick Sweeney, Wake Forest University; Michelle L. Mazurek, University of Maryland
Distinguished Paper Award Winner

Abstract: 

Digital security professionals use threat modeling to assess and improve the security posture of an organization or product. However, no threat-modeling techniques have been systematically evaluated in a real-world, enterprise environment. In this case study, we introduce formalized threat modeling to New York City Cyber Command: the primary digital defense organization for the most populous city in the United States. We find that threat modeling improved self-efficacy; 20 of 25 participants regularly incorporated it within their daily duties 30 days after training, without further prompting. After 120 days, implemented participant-designed threat mitigation strategies provided tangible security benefits for NYC, including blocking 541 unique intrusion attempts, preventing the hijacking of five privileged user accounts, and addressing three public-facing server vulnerabilities. Overall, these results suggest that the introduction of threat modeling can provide valuable benefits in an enterprise setting.

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BibTeX
@inproceedings {217456,
author = {Rock Stevens and Daniel Votipka and Elissa M. Redmiles and Colin Ahern and Patrick Sweeney and Michelle L. Mazurek},
title = {The Battle for New York: A Case Study of Applied Digital Threat Modeling at the Enterprise Level},
booktitle = {27th {USENIX} Security Symposium ({USENIX} Security 18)},
year = {2018},
isbn = {978-1-931971-46-1},
address = {Baltimore, MD},
pages = {621--637},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity18/presentation/stevens},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},
}