Threat analysis is a subarea of risk management and risk analysis. With the help of threat analysis, the various threats to IT systems and IT processes can be systematically recorded, structured, and evaluated. It is not a one-time process, but a recurring one.
What is threat analysis?
Threat analysis captures threats that pose a risk to the security and operation of IT systems and processes. It takes a systematic approach and lists threats in a structured manner, including an assessment. The aim of the analysis is to develop strategies for defending against or combating the threats and minimizing potential risks for companies or organizations.
Threat analysis is part of risk management and is a subarea of risk analysis. It is used for information security and can be based, among other things, on the IT basic protection manual of the BSI (Federal Office for Information Security).
The complete process is recurring and proceeds in individual process steps. The result is a document with a representation of the IT and application architecture, as well as various threats and possible solutions to ward off these threats.
The process steps of threat analysis
Threat analysis is not a one-time process, but a repetitive process consisting of individual process steps. The process accompanies IT systems and IT applications throughout their lifecycle and takes into account changing threat scenarios. A threat analysis can be carried out in the following steps:
- Identification of the systems, data, and applications to be protected
- Documenting the underlying architecture of all systems, data, and applications to be protected
- Identification of potential threats and possible security vulnerabilities
- Documentation of the identified threats
- Evaluation of the threats and assessment of the probability of their occurrence
- Creation of a final overall threat picture
The result of the analysis
As a result, the threat analysis provides a document for the responsible persons and affected employees of the company. The document contains a structured list of precisely described threats to IT systems and applications. With the help of the architecture overview, which is also included in the document, the threats can be precisely assigned. Explanations are provided for each threat as to how they can be countered.
Differentiation from risk analysis
Threat analysis is a subarea of risk analysis and risk management. While risk analysis deals with all aspects of the risks surrounding IT applications, data, and IT systems, threat analysis focuses specifically on individual threats. The methodical procedure of risk analysis provides holistic qualitative and quantitative probabilities for failures and occurring threats.
The focus is on the costs and consequences for the company. Risk management processes can be set up on the basis of the risk analysis. As part of the overall risk analysis, the threat analysis focuses on the individual threats to computer systems, applications, and communication networks. The individual risks for risk management can be derived from the identified threats and the assessment of the threat situation as a result.
Possible threats to IT systems
A large number of possible threats exist for IT systems, which are identified, recorded, and assessed as part of the threat analysis. Possible threats are:
- Unauthorized access to data
- Theft or manipulation of data
- Unauthorized access to systems
- Disruption of the availability of systems
- Manipulation of systems
- Attacks through, for example, social engineering or malware
- Denial of service attacks
- Theft of user IDs