Threat/Adversary Analysis
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This course is the first of 4 courses covering Domain 1 of the CSSLP, discussing general security concepts.

Learning Objectives

The objectives of this course are to provide you with an understanding of:

  • The CIA Triad

  • Authorization, Authentication, and Accounting

  • Design Principles

  • Security Models

  • Access Controls

  • Threat/Adversary Analysis

Intended Audience

This course is designed for those looking to take the Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP)​ certification


Any experience relating to information security would be advantageous, but not essential.  All topics discussed are thoroughly explained and presented in a way allowing the information to be absorbed by everyone, regardless of experience within the security field.


If you have thoughts or suggestions for this course, please contact Cloud Academy at


Even with all of these security measures, design features, defense in depth and other things, we still have to consider our threat/adversary analysis with respect to what we have to defend against, what we have to detect and what we have to respond to. By using this kind of analysis, we can produce actionable intelligence for both design and build processes, as well as for operational incident response reaction and protection. 

Looking at sources, their character, their motivation, their origin and geography, scope and extent, and a host of other features and attributes, it can inform our design of defense, our response and our detection mechanisms to make them more effective, and as is the Holy Grail feature, secure by default, secure by design goes, they can make us much better at producing systems that require less attention post-implementation than those today.

Over the past years, we have noticed that there is a threat and a landscape shift, and it makes it all the more imperative that what we do is designed for security, build for security so that we can operate for security, and be more effective at all. The threat landscape is usually defined based on some sort of actor, sometimes defined as a script kiddie, oftentimes defined as an insider or an outsider, and of course, the catch-all term, hacker. But since about 2000, there has been a very pronounced increasing criminalization, and it continues to grow. They are bigger, smarter, more weaponized, more pervasive, more organized, and they have every bit as much skill as the defenders do.

As more and more businesses move online, more targets are there to acquire, and monetize, and exploit. Criminals and other threat agents attack, seeking the easier, quicker pathway with better methods, more effective technology, and unfortunately, greater stealth. Much of this is facilitated by software that is quickly and poorly built, which still abounds on the internet. But it is rarely fixed until something happens, if then. 

So what do we have? Well, first, let's begin with knowledge and awareness. With knowledge and awareness, it enables us to take the steps to learn and clarify what is necessary first. We have to first, divide up what we know. We have our known knowns, our known unknowns, which we define as assumptions, our unknown knowns, which are uncaptured lessons learned, and that scariest of all categories, the known knowns.

For our known knowns, we need to actualize what we know, and become aware that we know this and are able to take action. With regard to our assumptions, we need to validate them. Proceeding on the basis of invalid or uninspected assumptions can be as bad as being completely ignorant of what we're faced with. Our unknown unknowns, the uncaptured lessons learned, of course, need to be captured and actualized. And we need to investigate and delve deeper, and discover what unknown unknowns there may be in an effort to try to shrink that particular area of knowledge to the smallest practicable. So we need to investigate these, knowledge that we have, and having it become conscious, and us to be aware of it so that we can actualize it is the goal here.

Then we have how urgent or how important is this? And this, of course, is also a well-tried graphic about how we determine what we react to. We have our urgent and important, which may be operational concerns of a somewhat immediate sort of nature, requiring our immediate attention.

We have the urgent but unimportant. Things that people make urgent because they are urgent to them or conditions that seem, on their surface, to be urgent. But in fact, upon investigation, it appears that they're potential time wasters. We have our non-urgent but important. And these are our strategic initiatives, things that we need to consider but things that are not pressing on us now but things that we know we must take care of, investigate further, do our due diligence. And then we have the non-urgent and unimportant. In one sense, they can be a time waster, in the other sense, it might be time for a vacation.

So our goals here are to resolve the urgent and important ones, respond if they are, in fact, that kind of truly urgent thing. With our not urgent but important strategic initiatives, we need to work those, develop them, and ultimately, keep those that need implementation and disregard those that don't.

For the urgent but unimportant, we can delegate those. And then for the non-urgent, unimportant, we can remove those or if it happens to be for a vacation, we can take that because mental health needs to be supported by time off, just like it needs to be supported by aggressive achievement. But in pursuing these things, we still become more knowledgeable and more aware, and we become better able to determine urgency and importance on the problem and issues that we're going to face throughout this cycle.


Security Basics: CIA Triad and Functional Requirements (AAA Services) - Design Principles - Security Models - Security Models: Access Controls - Security Models: State & Mode

About the Author
Learning Paths

Mr. Leo has been in Information System for 38 years, and an Information Security professional for over 36 years.  He has worked internationally as a Systems Analyst/Engineer, and as a Security and Privacy Consultant.  His past employers include IBM, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, Computer Sciences Corporation, and Rockwell International.  A NASA contractor for 22 years, from 1998 to 2002 he was Director of Security Engineering and Chief Security Architect for Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center.  From 2002 to 2006 Mr. Leo was the Director of Information Systems, and Chief Information Security Officer for the Managed Care Division of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.


Upon attaining his CISSP license in 1997, Mr. Leo joined ISC2 (a professional role) as Chairman of the Curriculum Development Committee, and served in this role until 2004.   During this time, he formulated and directed the effort that produced what became and remains the standard curriculum used to train CISSP candidates worldwide.  He has maintained his professional standards as a professional educator and has since trained and certified nearly 8500 CISSP candidates since 1998, and nearly 2500 in HIPAA compliance certification since 2004.  Mr. leo is an ISC2 Certified Instructor.