Microsoft says “Think like an attacker”

Microsoft’s “IT Infrastructure Threat Modeling Guide” offers security advice.


Microsoft offers up security advice on how to fend off attacks against corporate IT resources by looking at ways that attackers can undermine an organization in its “IT Infrastructure Threat Modeling Guide”.


Organizations today face a rising tide of cyberattacks on their computers and networks. IT professionals need a proactive approach to protect their assets and sensitive information against such attacks.


The free IT Infrastructure Threat Modeling Guide released by Microsoft provides an easy-to-understand method for developing threat models that can help prioritize investments in IT infrastructure security.


The following figure show the primary steps of the threat modeling process:


IT Infrastructure Threat Model


The IT Infrastructure Threat Modeling Guide is designed to help IT professionals accomplish the following:


  • Identify threats that could affect their organizations’ IT infrastructures.
  • Discover and mitigate design and implementation issues that could put IT infrastructures at risk.
  • Prioritize budget and planning efforts to address the most significant threats.
  • Conduct security efforts for both new and existing IT infrastructure components in a more proactive and cost-effective manner.

    “Look at it from the perspective of an attacker,” says Russ McRee, senior security analyst for online services at Microsoft, the primary author of the 32-page guide that discusses the fundamentals and tactics of network defense.


    The guide is not about Microsoft products and in fact “needs to be agnostic so it can work for anyone,” says McRee. “An organization has to figure out what their threats are.”


    The guide offers ways that IT staff — especially those without formal security training — can analyze their own wired and wireless networks, model them for security purposes, in some cases along the lines of “trust boundaries and levels,” to determine where defenses should be.


    The guide briefly explains the basic “pillars of IT security” as being “confidentiality, integrity and availability,” and spells out the major threats to data as “spoofing identity,” “tampering with data,” “repudiation,” “information disclosure,” “denial-of-service,” and “elevation of privilege.”


    The guide states that “IT infrastructure threat modeling should be incorporated into an organization’s mindset as a matter of policy much like any other part of the validation, implementation and installation process.”


    This guide can be downloaded from: